Cameron Burt was reluctant to put on the Queens College baseball cap that had been placed in front of him. The problem, he said, was the cap was too big for his head.
The cap may not have been a good fit for Burt, but apparently the college is. Burt made Queens College his college of choice, signing a letter of intent to play for the Knights, an NCAA Division II team.
“I love the campus,” the Mattituck High School senior said after a signing ceremony at the school on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s beautiful.”
Burt had also considered St. Thomas Aquinas College (N.Y.).
As part of the deal, Queens College will get a hard-working, talented pitcher, who enjoyed a splendid junior season in which he led the Tuckers to a 15-9 record. The 59-plus innings Burt pitched are the third-most for a single season by a pitcher in Mattituck history, and the 70 strikeouts he recorded rank fifth in team history.
“We couldn’t have ended up where we were without him,” Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro said. “If he’s pitching through five or six innings every time, if he can do that, then that cuts down on the number of relievers that we need, and that also helped us out last year, too.”
Burt went 6-3 with a 1.52 earned run average. The right-hander issued 33 walks and gave up 36 hits. Batters hit a measly .164 against him.
“I think for the number of innings that Cam pitched and the amount of time that he was on the mound, to have that type of ERA is incredible,” Mattituck’s athletic director, Gregg Wormuth, said. “It just shows that he also has longevity.”
Most memorable, perhaps, was a no-hitter that Burt pitched against Center Moriches. He lost the game, 1-0, with a walk and three wild pitches bringing across the game’s only run.
“His record doesn’t really show what he did,” DeCaro said, “even though he had a really good record, but he was the guy pitching against the number one guys in our league, and we had some really good number one guys in our league last year.”
Queens College’s new coach, Chris Reardon, a former pitcher for the Knights, said Burt, one of five recruits, is a “great match” for his team. “We’re very excited to have him coming to Queens College next year,” Reardon said. “For us it was really important as a coaching staff to get players who are able to grow. In Cameron, we see so much talent there that we think he’s just starting to scratch the surface as a pitcher. Three years down the road, with some work, he could be a professional prospect.”
Reardon said Burt has above-average control of three pitches. “I tell you, he could be a good one,” said the coach.
Wormuth, a former catcher for Cortland State, said he would have liked to have caught for Burt. “He’s a pitcher, as opposed to a lot of high school guys who are throwers,” said Wormurth. He added: “I think he’s got really good stuff. He’s got good command on the mound. He’s got good presence on the mound. He understands the game, and I think he’s just going to get better.”
Burt’s ability to mix pitches is an asset, particularly his slurve, which paralyzes right-handed batters. More than a few batters have walked away from the plate, frustrated after seeing Burt’s pitches dance in the air like Wiffle balls.
“No one’s pitch moves quite like Cameron’s,” Mattituck catcher Brian Pelan said. “All his breaking balls, they always just lock up on the knees. They can’t catch on to it.”
Burt, who was an All-League choice last year, has more than a strong arm, though. DeCaro said Burt has a good head on his shoulders, is coachable, open-minded and listens to his pitching coach, Gene Roechler, and Pelan, who calls the pitches. “His progress is just a straight line going right through the roof,” said DeCaro.
A former catcher and reliever before making his way into the starting rotation, Burt is a workhorse with a passion for pitching. “I love it,” he said. The pitching mound, he said, is “the only place on the baseball field where I feel 100 percent comfortable.”
The Tuckers are looking at a good situation. This coming spring they will welcome about 10 pitchers, including three starters — James Nish, Marcos Perivolaris and their ace, Burt.
Burt pitched over the summer and in the fall with the Mattituck Ospreys. He said he is healthy. “I’m getting stronger every day,” he said.
As well as Burt’s junior season went, he said he had an even better summer. “I improved tremendously,” he said.
Burt was joined in the signing ceremony by his parents, Clay and Elizabeth, as well as many of his teammates and friends, some of whom recorded the event with cameras.
Pelan said Burt signing with Queens College is “remarkable. He’s worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever known to get there, so he definitely deserves it.”
Asked how he felt during the ceremony, Burt replied: “It felt good. It felt like I’m ready to do some big things with baseball.”