Southold grad has fine freshman season playing baseball

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Kyle Clausen during his Southold High School days.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: Clausen goes 5-3

Kyle Clausen learned early on that sleep is a precious commodity at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

After the Southold man first reported to the USMMA in Kings Park last July 5, he was being awakened around 4 a.m. to go on runs. Nowadays, though, Clausen has been allowed to sleep until 5:45 a.m., “which is basically like sleeping in for us.”

Clausen received a wakeup call of sorts in terms of baseball. When he played for Southold High School, Clausen was able to blow fastballs by hitters for seven innings. He soon learned that doesn’t exactly work at the collegiate level.

“In college you have to mix it up a lot,” the freshman said. “I’m not the guy striking out 10 kids a game any more.”

Clausen said he has added some velocity to his fastball, which travels a little over 80 miles per hour. In addition to four-seam and two-seam fastballs, he throws curveballs and circle changeups to keep batters guessing. He has also learned to have a short memory because even good pitchers get hit sooner or later and experience a rough outing.

Clausen recently completed his freshman season with a 5-3 record (tying the team lead for wins and leading all freshmen in his conference) and a 5.40 earned run average. He pitched 55 innings, allowing 75 hits and 21 walks, with 25 strikeouts.

The Mariners (20-17) saw their season end with a 4-2 loss to host Purchase College in an ECAC Metro Region semifinal on Sunday. It capped USMMA’s second straight 20-win season.

Life at the academy isn’t easy, especially for a plebe. Baseball, Clausen said, has made things easier. “Baseball is like an escape,” he said.

But Clausen said all the hard work will pay off in the years to come. “I know that after graduation, it’s totally worth it,” he said. “If you work hard for four or five years, you’re rewarded for the next 30 years of your life.”

Clausen said he expects to graduate with a bachelor of science degree and a Coast Guard license. He said he will then be obligated to serve five years in a branch of the armed forces or serve five years in the maritime industry.

Before he graduates, though, he must first spend 317 days on a ship at sea. He will begin the first 120 of those days this summer on a merchant ship headed to northern Europe or the south Pacific.

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