Two-way Paulsen guides Body Armor Titans past Orioles

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 1, 2022

Winning pitcher Eric Paulsen and catcher Joe Yuvino worked three strong innings together.

By Joe Hofmann

Count Long Island’s Eric Paulsen as part of the new wave of baseball pitchers.

Paulsen wants to play every day – when he is pitching and when he is not.

The Long Island Titans’ lefty checks the two required boxes.

He can pitch.

He can hit.

The Staten Island Orioles found out about Paulsen first-hand at Diamond Nation yesterday.

He was 2-for-2 with a home run and retired all nine batters (seven strikeouts) he faced in a 14-0 three-inning victory.

Move over, Shohei Ohtani!

Paulsen signed with Stony Brook University because the school promised him a chance to pitch and play first base.

“That’s the plan,” he said with a wide grin.

The Staten Island Orioles are a firm believer in Paulsen —  and, for that matter, a believer in the Titans as well.

Coach Ron McKay’s team scored five runs on four hits in the first inning, five runs on four hits in the second, and added four more runs on three hits in the third to end the game.

“They played well today,” McKay said of his team in the understatement of the year. “They’re a good team. They can play.”

The game ended via the three-inning mercy rule when Paulsen (yes, him again!) hit a sacrifice fly to make it 14-0.

The lefty was utterly dominant on the mound, striking out the side in the first two innings and striking out one batter in the third.

He threw a fastball that reached 88 MPH and blended in a sinking two-seamer. He also throws a nasty changeup but never needed to break it out against Staten Island.

That’s because he never really needed to unveil it.

“I felt great,” he said. “The hitting behind me was great. It’s great knowing they got my back every inning.”

Did they ever.

In the bottom of the first, Anthony Scarabino led off with a single and Boston College-bound Esteban Garcia reached on an infield error before Evan Baschnagel was hit by a pitch.

Shaun McMillan doubled in two runs, Paulsen singled in one, Matthew Bieguez doubled in one, and catcher Joe Yuvino hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0 after just seven players stepped to the plate.

It was more of the same in the second.

No. 11 batter Liam Stemmler was hit by a pitch leading off before Scarabino smoked a grounds-rule double. Garcia and Baschnagel both hit RBI groundouts before McMillan reached on an outfield error, setting up a long two-run home run to right by Ohtani … uh, we mean Paulsen.

Bieguez singled and later scored on Yuvino’s single.

In the third, Stemmler reached on an infield single, Scarabino walked and Garcia reached on an infield error. Baschnagel doubled in two, McMillan reached on an infield hit and scored on Paulsen’s sac fly.

“We had been struggling at the plate, so it was nice to get back into rhythm,” Yuvino said.

Paulsen was so efficient that he threw just 40 pitches in his three innings of work. To put that into perspective, he needed to throw a bullpen to get his pitch count up after the game. The reason: The team travels to Perfect Game in Georgia next week and McKay wants Paulsen going deeper into games.

Paulsen had been pitching in relief for the Titans since helping lead Massapequa High to the Long Island championship and the state semifinals this spring.

“He really hit his spots,” his Elon-bound catcher Yuvino said. “He threw his fastball and two-seamer for strikes. Every pitch he threw was moving. He had great movement and kept their hitters off stride.”

Paulsen hopes that Stony Brook’s recent move from the America East Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association gets him more exposure for the MLB draft.

“I’m hoping to get more draft opportunities in the CAA,” he said.

As a hitter? Pitcher? Both? Time will tell.

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