In his latest appearance on the mound Monday against rival Derby, Brendan Palmer once again put the Ansonia team on his back and delivered a 1-0 victory.
The 6-foot-3 junior threw a complete game, giving up just three hits on the way to picking up his fifth win of the season.
The win moved the Chargers to 8-8 and clinched a spot in the CIAC Class M Tournament.
Palmer has been the winning pitcher in five of those eight victories and he has been doing so in an efficient fashion.
He is 5-3 with a 2.51 ERA and 71 strikeouts with just 8 walks in 47.1 innings pitched.
Following a 15-strikeout game against WCA, Palmer had struck out 53 batters and walked none over a five-game stretch.
“I have been focused on the location of my pitches and trusting my defense,” Palmer said. “Honestly, I’m just focused pounding the zone with strikes because I do not want any runners on base. I don’t feel good with runners on base. I had high expectations for myself coming into this season on the mound. Have felt good all season and feel like I’m continuing to get better every game.”
Palmer throws a fastball, curveball and slider and has a change-up in the works.
Ansonia coach Patrick Lynch said since his freshman season, Palmer has had a repeatable delivery which leads to his ability in throwing strikes over and over.
“On thing he does is that his wind-up and delivery are so consistent,” Lynch said. “We saw that when he was a freshman, his motion was so polished and repetitive. What he’s done this year is he is getting ahead of hitters. Getting ahead and staying ahead. He is always working in favorable counts. In that stretch where he struck out 53 and walked none, he went to three balls on two batters. He has picked up a few miles per hour on his fastball and he grew. But he also has greater confidence in himself.”
Palmer credits much of his success to working hard in the weight room and on working on his pitching mechanics during the missed season and offseason.
“It was bad missing last season but I was able to put a lot of work in during that time,” Palmer said. “I am throwing harder now and my off-speed pitches are more consistent. Every day I was either lifting or throwing. I grew too which helped but I also put in a lot of work to get stronger, especially in my lower half. I know if I want to play at the next level I need to work on my legs.”
He was able to play Legion baseball last summer with the West Haven team, which he said was huge for him being able to compete.
He is not just shining on the mound, he is doing work at the plate as well.
As the shortstop and No. 3 hitter he is batting .320 with 9 RBIs and six doubles.
“As a freshman he was batting 8th or 9th and we even used the DH for him once. This year he is our No. 3 hitter and gives us the most quality at bats of anyone on the team,” Lynch said. “He put in a lot of work pitching but also with his hitting. That work shows up on the field. It does not just happen. He worked really hard in the year away and you can see it.”
And while he is striking out over a batter an inning as a pitcher, he has only struck out himself once in 55 plate appearances and that did not happen until the last game Ansonia played against Derby, its 16th game of the season.
“I am definitely hitting way better than freshman year,” Palmer said. “For me, it was just taking constant reps off the tee at home. I would hit all the time off the tee, just working on being consistent in my swing. It’s all about doing the work.”
As a freshman in 2019, Palmer started at shortstop and was Ansonia’s No. 2 pitcher behind All-NVL pitcher Ricky Torres.
He said he learned a lot from being around Torres, especially in term of mechanics.
“We threw him into the fire his freshman year,” Lynch said. “He did a nice job and pitched a lot as our No. 2 but it was tough for him at times. It was a really good learning experience for him. He and Ricky are two totally different kids but have the same mentality on the mound. Ricky was very vocal on the team and Brendan is low key and very even-keel but on the mound they are both incredible competitors.”