Joe Saia used to strike out many hitters during his Everett Little League career at Sacramone Park, following in the footsteps of his brother, Al, who is two years older.
Saia, 19, is still making batters swing and miss only now he’s doing it in college. The former Everett High southpaw just completed a successful summer season as a reliever for the Wachusett Dirt Dogs in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL).
This week he starts his sophomore year at Suffolk University where he’ll pitch for coach Cary McConnell’s Division 3 Rams. It’s the next step up for the 6-foot, 185-pound Saia, who pitched in the spring for the Bunker Hill Community College team, compiling a 4-1 record and striking out 75 batters in 45 innings. He was among the top-rated hurlers in the junior college baseball ranks.
Saia won 15 games on the mound for Everett High School, helping coach Joe Marchesi’s Crimson Tide win two Greater Boston League championships.
“I was probably clocked around 82 miles per hour in high school,” said Saia. “I had a great time playing at Everett High and being a part of coach Marchesi’s teams.”
Saia’s velocity was at 87 miles per hour this summer for the Wachusett team. He started two games but them emerged as the set-up man for closer Brian Menduke of Bryant University. Saia finished with 30 strikeouts in 23 innings.
Saia became serious about pitching after Little League and took private lessons from former professional baseball pitcher Dave Caiazzo of Malden. He has a changeup, curveball, and two-seam fastball in his repertoire. “My two-seamer is my go-to pitch,” said Saia.
He has high goals and aspires to be selected in the Major League Baseball Draft in 2014.
“My goal is to be drafted and I feel I’m heading in that direction,” said Saia. “I have to increase my velocity and improve my control. I have to keep working hard in the gym on my strength.”
Interestingly he’ll be reunited on the Suffolk pitching staff with former Everett Little League All-Star teammate Josh Desai, who left the city in eighth grade.
Saia remembers well his fireballing days at Sacramone Park. “I played on the Phillies coached by Paul Musmecci and we came up a little short against the Mets in the finals. Danny Concannon hit a walkoff grand slam to beat us in the final game. And our All-Star team just missed reaching the state Final Four.”
Saia is excited to begin his career at Suffolk. He previously played baseball for coach McConnell and assistant coach Jeff Mejia in the 14-year-old AAU division.
“I chose Suffolk because it’s a great school in the city of Boston and I’ve known the coaches for awhile,” said Saia, who will major in Communications.
Saia said his parents, Al and Mary, moved to Florida last week, but he knows they’ll be supporting him in his collegiate baseball career.
“My father was at every single game my whole life,” said Saia, the youngest of five children. “They’ll be in Tampa but I’ll be in touch with my parents a lot. My whole family has supported me all the way.”