Hunt bolstered bullpen in Jammers’ record season

OBSERVER File Photo: Nolan Hunt (15), kneeling on far left, and the Westfield Wolverines won the 2015 sectional title. Hunt advanced his athletic career as he played summer ball with the Jamestown Jammers, whose season ended in the championship game versus Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs. Hunt is entering his junior year at Canisius College in Division I baseball.

OBSERVER File Photo: Nolan Hunt (15), kneeling on far left, and the Westfield Wolverines won the 2015 sectional title. Hunt advanced his athletic career as he played summer ball with the Jamestown Jammers, whose season ended in the championship game versus Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs. Hunt is entering his junior year at Canisius College in Division I baseball.

The Jamestown Jammers had a breakout year in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL). Over the summer, the Jammers put up a 38-17 overall record and won the 2017 West Division title. The dream season was cut short by the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, who won the the 2017 PGCBL championship series over Jamestown.

It was a year to be remembered for Jammers’ baseball, and former Westfield star, Nolan Hunt, played a big part in their success. The left-handed pitcher was a middle-inning addition to Jamestown.

“(Hunt) was a good strike-thrower and very competitive,” 2017 PGCBL Coach of the Year and Jammers’ coach Anthony Barone said. “I liked using him in the back end of the bullpen with leads … he did a very good job as a primary setup man and was a big part of our championship run.”

According to the PGCBL website, Hunt played in 17 games as a relief pitcher this summer throwing 26.1 innings with a 6.83 ERA. Jammers’ business manager and fellow Westfield alumnus, Austin Alonge, saw a competitive fire in Hunt that helped contribute to the team’s well achieved season.

“First of all, he’s very, very competitive; he hates to lose,” Alonge began. “That’s the type of mindset you need to have, especially as a pitcher. … He’s a bulldog out there” on the mound.

OBSERVER File Photo: Nolan Hunt delivers a pitch for the Westfield Wolverines. Hunt graduated Westfield to continue his athletic career at Canisius College in Buffalo.

OBSERVER File Photo: Nolan Hunt delivers a pitch for the Westfield Wolverines. Hunt graduated Westfield to continue his athletic career at Canisius College in Buffalo.

Alonge, a former star catcher at Westfield who later moved on to play Division II college ball at Mercyhurst, grew up with Hunt. He enjoyed seeing another player from Westfield playing baseball at this high of a level.

“It means a lot to see another Westfield native play high-level baseball. I knew he could play at that level … and he did a great job. It’s nice to a lot of natives from Westfield around the area come (to Jamestown) to support the kid and see what he could do,” he said. “He was a huge part of our bullpen; he helped us win a West Divisional Championship this summer. He did a really nice job closing the door sometimes and setting up our closer. He was solid for us.”

Their former coach, Westfield’s Dave Kaltenbach, shared that same sentiment regarding the Westfield players.

“(Hunt and Alonge) are coming from a small school and they’re doing stuff that a lot of people said they couldn’t,” Kaltenbach said. “I just think it’s cool that they’re coming out of Westfield and they’re doing good. … As their ex-coach, it makes me proud.”

Hunt is currently entering his third year playing Division I baseball at Canisius College in Buffalo. This summer provided Hunt the opportunity to improve upon his game and stay in shape going into his junior season.

“I just got back into the rhythm of finding the strike zone,” Hunt said. “I had a pretty down sophomore year (at Canisius). … In Jamestown, I just got back to what I used to do and went back to the simple things.”

“I think the biggest thing was getting his confidence back up,” Barone responded. “He had a really good freshman year at Canisius. I think he’s right back on track for his upcoming junior season.”

In his freshman year, Hunt posted a 5-0 record for the Golden Griffins in eight starts; he had a career-low 2.90 ERA in 62 innings pitched. His sophomore year saw a significant drop in innings pitched as he only started twice this past season and pitched 34 innings with a 4.50 ERA.

This was a summer meant to be built on for Hunt; he got into a rhythm on the mound pitching in Barone’s bullpen and Hunt appreciated what this summer provided for him.

“(Coach Barone) really just pushed us to do everything right,” Hunt said. “For me, it’s putting the ball in the zone. I’m not a strikeout guy, so it’s just letting the ball fly and letting my defense play behind me.”

Hunt recalled an outing against Geneva this summer, where he threw 5 2/3 innings in a victory for Jamestown. That game helped build his confidence in pursuit to become a starting pitcher Canisius this year. The Westfield prodigy is working hard and doing everything he can to bounce back his junior season. Perhaps his stint with the Jammers was the step he needed to make that possible.

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