Last year was a learning experience for Trevor Abbott, as a freshman. He was a wide-eyed, talented, young pitcher on a conference championship varsity team, and he was just waiting for an opportunity to play and contribute. He took a few cuts from the batter’s box and tossed a few innings of relief — but that was last year.
This season, head coach Howard Smack expects more from his smooth-tossing southpaw, and to prove it, Trevor was handed the opening-day ball for his first varsity start in the team’s game against last year’s state champion, St. Marks.
Last season, St. Mark’s pitcher, John Dischert, went a perfect 11-0, was selected as a first-team All-American and was named the Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year, among other accolades — like being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 42nd round of the 2005 draft. Dischert pitched a no-hit shutout to beat the Indians in 2004 and defeated them the following year on a nine-strikeout performance while only giving up two runs on six hits.
Dischert declined to play in the minor leagues, in favor of playing collegiate ball for the Maryland Terrapins — an accomplishment Abbott would like to duplicate after graduation (though not necessarily at UMD).
St. Mark’s traditionally is known as the “team to beat” in baseball, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that professional or college scout were in attendance at the team’s opening-day game against the Indians. If they were, then their pencils probably broke or pens ran out of ink due to furious note-taking.
“They’re a solid baseball team,” Smack said. “They have hitting, pitching and are a good defensive team. Every year they reload because they have kids that want to play baseball at St. Marks.”
Abbott tossed a complete game, fanned 13 batters (five caught looking) and allowed only two runs on four hits and two walks – as a 15-year-old. St. Mark’s only runs came on a two-run homerun by leadoff hitter Andrew Baker in the bottom of the third – cutting Indian River’s lead to three, at 5-2.
No matter, Abbott settled in like a grizzled veteran to strikeout St. Mark’s No. 2 and 3 batters, looking.
“Trevor gave a gutty effort,” Smack said. “He had them eating out of his hand. His change-up had a lot of movement and his fastball had a lot of pop. He was in the zone.”
Smack mentioned that he likes to pitch left-handers to St. Mark’s because it gives them a different look early in the season. Chris White and Cody Jensen did well, but neither matched Abbott’s performance.
“I just tried to remain calm and once I started pitching I was fine,” Abbott said. “It’s like a rhythm — you just throw the same as before. I knew I could produce I just had to trust my mechanics.”
Currently, Abbott (1-0) is the Indians’ No. 2 pitcher, behind senior Colin Warner, and he is also the starting right-fielder. Abbott has a wealth of ability, but it’s difficult to remember that he’s only 15 years old. He can’t drive a car yet, but he can strike out plenty of those who can.
“To me, he hasn’t peaked,” Smack said. “He has the ability and is willing to put in the work. He’s like a sponge. He loves baseball so much that he soaks up everything he learns.”