Taking a line drive off of the pitching arm hurts. For many pitchers, a comebacker is enough to rattle their confidence, and make them take extra time before getting back on the mound.
Fortunately for Rock Bridge, sophomore Jordan Adrian is not one of those pitchers.
One day, after a line drive off of teammate Jack Campbell’s bat struck him in his left elbow during an spring scrimmage, Adrian told coach Justin Towe he was ready to get back on the mound and face his teammates again.
Towe gave him the ball that day, and has been giving the ball to his young reliever ever since.
Adrian appeared in all four games for the Bruins this season.
None were more pressure packed than Friday’s game against Blue Springs South. Adrian entered with one out in the fifth inning and a runner on second base with the score tied 3-3. Pitching with the poise of a senior, Adrian was able to get out of the jam, striking out the final batter of the inning. After walking two batters with one out, he came back with a strikeout and a flyout to center fielder Brandon Gerau to end the inning. The Bruins won the game 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh on a Jack Campbell RBI single to left.
Adrian said that he was ready, and wasn’t phased by the pressure.
“I’m used to going in with guys on. I just got out there and got the first guy and went from there,” he said.
Adrian credits his calmness in pressure situations to his appearance in the Triple-A state tournament finals when he was 13.
“It was a really fun experience,” he said. “It helped me to deal with the pressure, because those were some big games. From then on, I take it one game at a time.”
Towe added that Adrian brings a change of pace on the mound. Most of his pitches are off-speed. Adrian’s delivery also is tough to adjust to, especially following a right-handed pitcher. The lefty throws sidearm, with his release point only a few feet off of the ground.
“I just go out there and try to throw strikes, and I try to hit my spots,” he said. “When I’m not hitting my spots, they hit it pretty far.”
That ability to hit spots and to change speeds is one of the reasons that the Bruins’ varsity coaching staff has had an eye on Adrian since last season.
“We had big ideas for him without him ever knowing about it,” Towe said.
As for the line-drive episode, Adrian played it off as if it was of little concern.
“Jack hit one back at me, and it hit off my elbow,” he said. “It just scratched it I guess. I couldn’t really feel it.”
Towe said he was impressed with how quickly his pitcher bounced back.
“He took that shot off of his elbow, but he didn’t act hurt,” Towe said. “He just went in the dugout and slammed his glove like he was mad. You could see he wanted to get back out there.”