Harrington has been a shining Star for Silver Knights
NASHUA – Pat Harrington was always a Nashua Silver Knights fan.
That’s why becoming a Silver Knight player was so special to him.
“Ever since I came here, and was only a few towns (Bedford) over, I came to a few games,” Harrington said. “It was something I looked up to, and was a lot of fun to be here.
“So when my coach (Assumption College’s Mike Rocco) told me I had a contract to come here, I was really excited when I heard the news.”
So was Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett , who first saw Harrington when he was checking out a game at Nashua High School North, and the righthander took the mound in relief.
“I had never seen him before,” Neverett said. “He was throwing well, so I called (Rocco) and said, ‘Can I have him next year?’
Harrington was chomping at the bit to make his first Holman Stadium start in a Knights uniform this past Friday – his previous outings were all on the road – and didn’t disappoint. Although he didn’t get the win, Harrington (2-2) tossed five scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, lowering his earned run average to 2.12.
“I think I’ve been able to get ahead of batters early in counts,” he said. “Trust my defense, know they can make plays so I don’t have to get every out myself. I can just throw to contact and know the guys behind me have got my back.”
Harrington’s work has paid off as he’ll likely see a little bit of mound time in tonight’s Futures Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game at Pittsfield’s Wahconah Park.
“He’s earned that,” Neverett said. “He had a good season on the mound, has good stats, and his walk to strikeout ratio is really good. He’s pitched well.”
After his first start, the former Bulldog had a talk with Silver Knights pitching coach Kyle Jackson that helped set the tone for his summer.
“We just had a conversation about what this league is and what you can get away with and what you can’t,” Jackson said. “His fastball command has come far so far this season. I think that’s what helped him be able to work the inside and the outside.
“He was nervous throwing inside because he didn’t want to hit a guy. Once he started throwing inside, that opened up the whole plate for him.”
“He said I had to start working in on batters a lot,” Harrington said. “I think pitchers and hitters are always taught to go more outside to batters, especially when you’re younger. I know that to be successful at higher levels you’ve got to come in on people. Because if you don’t come in that just exposes the whole inside part and then (hitters) are setting up outside. So then I tried to work on it in my bullpens and then in games, force (himself) to go in on batters, and it’s definitely helped a lot.”
Harrington has also learned that some of his power can come from his legs.
“I’ve learned a lot to use my lower leg more efficiently, so get some power down on the mound instead of sinking down like I was before,” he said, “and trying to stay up tall and getting on my back leg a little better.”
Harrington has been like a sponge, working well with Jackson and taking to heart everything the advice he’s been given.
“He’s open to learning,” Jackson said. “When you have pitchers that are open to learning, then you see the development. Whether they have a good outing or a bad outing, at least they’re learning something or getting better at it to know what mistakes they can fix and what needs to be done.”
“It’s definitely a big jump, coming from high school to college to here,” Harrington said. “But luckily I’ve been surrounded by a lot of good teammates that pushed me to get better every day, helped me progress the way I was able to have success early.”
“He’s got a good live fastball, his off-speed stuff has improved through the summer,” Neverett said. “He’s been working hard here, and he’s spent a lot of time with Kyle. He’s really kind of soaking it up, you know. He’s pitched some really good innings, a great kid, really nice young man. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Harrington, with Jackson’s approval, has been trying to add a change up to his arsenal, working on it over a year or so. “I’ve had to change a bunch of different grips to try to get used to it,” he said. “I try to throw it a lot in catch play, just to get more confidence to throw it off a mound. When I gain more confidence in bullpens, I’ll throw it more in games. But I’m trying to implement it more in games because that’s the best way to get experience from it.”
“He needs to get a changeup,” Jackson said. “He has one, but it’s not at the level he needs to as a starter. It’s something he’s been working on, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. But it’s a different feeling of throwing it in a game, than in the bullpen. When you throw it in the bullpen, it doesn’t mean anything. Getting the confidence to throw it, it’s like when I told him to throw a fastball inside. He did it, and then the confidence builds.”
Harrington enjoyed his freshman year pitching at Assumption, as he appeared in 15 games, started one, and went 1-2, 3.38. He’s a finance major.
“I loved it there,” he said. “It was definitely an earlier start. We were close to finishing the season when high school was just starting. A lot more games, but a lot of fun.”
Harrington has always had the resources. Bedford has developed a great baseball reputation, and he has always felt his 2018 senior Bulldog teammates were a factor in his high school success. “They helped everyone get better,” he said. “I think when you’r with a good team, it just helps everyone get better because you’re pushing yourself to just be a better team.”
Harrington had made starts at Holman before with the Bulldogs and also in summer ball, but Friday night was different.
“To get that start in a Silver Knights uniform, it’s something I’d been patiently waiting for,” he said.
And his patience paid off.