SACO, Maine — Jeff Gelinas, a pitcher who will be a senior at Thornton Academy this coming academic year, has made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Maine and join the Black Bears’ baseball program on a partial scholarship beginning in the fall of 2013.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander first came into contact with the University of Maine coaching staff during the 2011 American Legion baseball season, and he visited the campus last month before making his decision to play baseball and study on the Orono campus in a year.
“I had never been up there before, but I knew it was a Division I program from a good conference and when I got there I was really impressed,” said Gelinas, who indicated he had some additional familiarity with the UMaine baseball program through Thornton Academy alumni Robbie and Steve Trask, brothers who were on the Black Bears’ roster last spring.
Gelinas joins Anthony Capuano, a first baseman from Bangor, as top high school players from the state to make verbal commitments to join head coach Steve Trimper’s University of Maine baseball program after graduating from high school in the Class of 2013.
He is expected to sign a National Letter of Intent formalizing his commitment to UMaine during the early signing period in November, and Trimper cannot comment about his latest recruit until he receives the signed NLI form.
Gelinas, whose fastball was clocked in the upper 80s during the recently completed state American Legion baseball tournament, has been a three-year starting pitcher at Thornton Academy and also been a key player for the Fayette-Staples American Legion baseball team based in Saco.
“Probably my strength in high school baseball has been my velocity,” said Gelinas, who plays first base and the outfield when not on the mound and also plays varsity basketball at Thornton Academy. “I’ve relied a lot on my fastball, but I’ve been working on my changeup this year and that’s helped me a lot.”
Gelinas went 2-2 with a 1.46 earned run average this spring in leading Thornton Academy to an 11-7 record and a berth in the Western Maine Class A quarterfinals. He struck out 44 batters in 38⅓ innings and pitched three complete games while holding opponents to a .179 batting average.
Gelinas also batted .356 for the Golden Trojans with a home run and 13 RBIs.
This summer Gelinas went 6-2 on the mound in helping Fayette-Staples win the Zone 5 championship and advance to the American Legion state tournament.
His most recent outing came Thursday, when he pitched a nine-inning complete game during the first round of the American Legion Northeast Regional tournament at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach.
Gelinas allowed five earned runs on 10 hits while striking out 10 batters and walking three as Fayette-Staples — which earned an automatic berth to the regional as the host team — dropped a 5-2 decision to Milford, Conn.
Gelinas said he hopes to add “two to three” miles per hour on his fastball before he joins the UMaine baseball program as well as expand his pitching repertoire.
“I want to work more on my off-speed pitches as well as hitting my spots better,” he said.