DARIEN – A pitcher who can throw three pitches for strikes typically has more than enough to get high school hitters out.
The way Mike Mullaney throws, it appears he has six or seven different offerings and hitters have no idea what to do.
Mullaney already throws four different pitches from his more typical three-quarters arm slot, but it gets really interesting when he starts throwing sidearm. The Hinsdale South senior is off to a strong start to the season and pitched a one-hitter against Morton on Saturday thanks to his deceptive delivery.
“He’s got two or three arm slots he throws from so he’s got about six or seven pitches because of his arm slot,” South coach Paul Hoel said. “He throws fastball, curveball, change up and slider all three-quarters, and then he throws three from down below, from submarine. He’s tough, especially with two strikes. If you haven’t seen it and he drops down to a different arm slot it’s not much fun to hit off him. It’s like having two guys out there.”
Mullaney struck out six, walked two and allowed just the one hit, a single in the first inning, against the visiting Mustangs. The one-hit shutout came in a 3-0 victory and followed up a 3-2 win the day before when Jonathan Uba had a quality start on the mound.
“Mike pitched well,” Hoel said. “He hit his spots, he challenged hitters. He made them put it in play and our outfielders were playing really well and the infield made some plays.”
Mullaney developed the unusual delivery as a little kid just messing around with different ways to pitch. Last year he put more focus on making it something he can use in a game and the early results have been positive. He has transitioned into the conference rotation for the Hornets after being used more during mid week games last season.
“It’s starting to work a lot so I’m just going to that,” Mullaney said. “It really messes up the batter, too. He doesn’t know if it’s coming overhand or underhand. I have two different pitches underhand.”
Having two deliveries has helped keep his arm fresher. A sidearm delivery puts pressure on different parts of his arm and Mullaney said he has noticed the difference.
Mullaney said he trusts the fielders behind him and just wants to throw strikes. Deciding when to use which pitch in which delivery can be the tricky part.
“Usually it’s overhand so it’s more three-quarters, but submarine usually if I’m in front of the count and I just want to get the batter off balance,” Mullaney said.