Gage Feeney is counting the days until he begins his baseball career at the University of Southern Maine.
The Cutler native, who pitched Washington Academy of East Machias to the Class C state championship in 2014 and was one of eight finalists for the Mr. Baseball award the following year, had been at the University of Maine but decided to transfer.
He was a redshirt last season and met with the coaching staff this past fall.
“My chances of getting mound time weren’t very high, so I felt the best chance of having a long and fun playing career was by going to USM,” Feeney said. “We decided that was best for me. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to play right away.”
He will have four years of eligibility beginning this spring.
Feeney had been previously recruited by USM head coach Ed Flaherty, but Feeney said he wanted to give UMaine a shot to see if he could pitch at the Division I level.
“It made perfect sense to go to Maine and perfect sense to transfer to USM,” said Feeney.
Feeney said USM will be a great fit for him.
“USM has an incredible program. The coaching staff does an amazing job,” said Feeney, who has just recently moved to Portland and has begun working out informally with some of his teammates.
“We’ve been going to the field house any chance we can get. The morale is very high, and you can tell the guys are motivated,” said Feeney, whose first day of practice will be Jan. 17.
Feeney contacted Flaherty after receiving his release from UMaine.
He finally got an opportunity to pitch this past summer in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League with the Pittsfield (Massachusetts) Suns.
The former All-Zone 1 first team choice for the Trenton Acadians made 18 appearances and was 1-1 with a 7.26 earned run average. He struck out 21 and walked 17 in 26 innings and had a save.
Feeney said his year at UMaine was beneficial in that he learned a lot from the coaching staff and his teammates. He also benefitted from playing in Pittsfield.
“There’s no substitute for live games,” said the son of Derek and Jennifer Feeney.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Gage Feeney features a live fastball in the mid- to upper-80s (miles per hour), a curve and a changeup. He also is working on a slider and trying to refine his changeup.
Another critical component in his decision to transfer was the fact he could continue to study mechanical engineering as both schools have quality programs in that course of study.
UMaine interim baseball coach Nick Derba said Feeney is making a “good decision.”
“He’s a great kid with a bright future in whatever he does. He’s a really intelligent kid,” added Derba.
Flaherty is looking forward to having him on the team and noted that two of his top three starting pitchers, Tyler Leavitt and Zack Bean, are coming off offseason arm surgery.
“[At this level], you don’t find many freshman pitchers, eligibility-wise, who are 6-foot-4 and can throw in the mid- to upper-80s,” said Flaherty. “I like his size, I like the way he throws the ball, and he’s fairly athletic. He’s a bright kid, so I’m sure he’s someone we can work with.
‘We’ll throw him out there as a starter on our Florida trip, and we will see what we can do. We’ll let him build up,” said Flaherty, who has benefitted from a number of UMaine transfers over the years.
UMaine transfer Sam Stauble of Harrison was an all-conference and all-New England first baseman at USM last spring.