Requiem for a Catcher
MANAGING SPORTS EDITOR
In the second inning of Sunday’s baseball game against Hofstra, redshirt freshman pitcher Ron Marinaccio looked to get out the Pride’s David Leiderman to close out the inning. In front of the backstop, senior catcher Ty Warrington hunkered down, looming like a silent guardian. He flashed a signal, and Marinaccio went into his wind up. A split second later, the ball flew past Leiderman and into Warrington’s glove.
The umpire called the out, and Warrington hurled the ball down to third base. It was a somewhat strange event, considering the inning was over.
“I actually was going to throw the ball back to Ron,” Warrington said. “But it was a strike three, and I messed up a little bit. Just thought it was a ball.”
Standing by the dugout after the game in his warm-up jacket, Warrington doesn’t fit the profile of a catcher. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Warrington looks thin and rangy compared to other catchers on the team. Warrington, who has brown hair and just a hint of a five o’clock shadow, began playing baseball in the eighth grade for A.I. DuPont High School in Wilmington.
“When I was a little kid, it was just, ‘hey nobody else wants to catch, so you’re catching,’” he said.
This season, the native of Hockessin, Del. has a .256 batting average with 11 hits and eight RBIs. One of those RBIs came in the bottom of the seventh during Sunday’s game. With a ball and two strikes on him, and having gone 0-2 in his previous at-bats, the dull ping of a ball flying off a bat signaled Warrington’s single to right field to bring in Tyler Powell. That brought the score to 9-1 in the Blue Hens’ favor.
“I was just thinking ‘have a good at-bat, swing away,’” he said. “A real breaking pitch that was out there, you know, but it was up, it was nice to hit it toward that wall over there.”
A catcher’s job is not just to call pitches, but to help lead the team on the field by making sure the team knows what it is doing on certain plays. This was best demonstrated in the top of the seventh as Hofstra’s Mat Annunziata fouled a ball down the third-base line. Warrington called for the third baseman to run back and get the ball, resulting in an out.
“You are a captain when you’re the catcher,” head coach Jim Sherman said. “There’s no doubt whether you’re a freshman starting or a senior starting, you’re a captain automatically. He’s one of a group of seniors that basically may not have a captain title, but he is a captain.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the score at 12-1 after a wild day on the mound for the Pride’s three pitchers, Warrington stepped up to the plate again. He fired one out toward center and looked about to be thrown out at first when the first baseman made an error. Two runs scored, putting the score at 14-1. Despite having to catch again in the top of the ninth, Warrington gave his best effort in the eighth having improved his swing to be the best it could be.
“You go back and you think about what happened, the way that they pitched to you,” he said. “From there, you take it, then you leave it, whatever you get out of it, then you’re on to the next at-bat.”