P-O's Curtis shakes off pair of tough outings on the way to an all-state caliber season|
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
Philipsburg-Osceola junior Mark Curtis has had more than his share of success on the diamond, including pitching his teener league team to a state title as a 15 year old.
But it was two of his sub-par performances this past high school season that stuck out to him the most.
"I don't really know what happened," Curtis said. "My stuff wasn't on and I couldn't hit my spots. It was just one of those days, but I think I really grew after that."
Curtis allowed nine of his 31 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in a wild 18-15 loss at Central Mountain, but he drew from his experience and talked to his older brother Luke to help learn from it.
After the loss to the Wildcats, Curtis allowed eight more earned runs in his next outing against DuBois, but that's where he turned the corner and it didn't stop until he was named to the Class AA first team as a pitcher over the weekend.
Curtis added a fourth pitch to his repertoire and the results were undeniable, as he finished the year with an 8-1 mark with eight complete games - including seven straight to close out the season.
"Right after the Central Mountain game," said Curtis, "I talked to my brother and we talked about how you have to look forward to the next one and learn from your mistakes, and that's exactly what I did.
"I thought I came out strong and got stronger as the season went on. I just got into the groove from the get-go. I felt most of my stuff was working and I even threw in a new pitch to help out with that."
Opposing hitters can attest to that statement.
Aside from the two shaky outings, Curtis was nearly unhittable.
In the other 53 innings he worked, Curtis's ERA dropped from a respectable 3.44 to a miniscule 1.58. Curtis allowed 44 hits in those 53 innings and finished the season with as many strikeouts as innings pitched (63).
Curtis ended the year with a season-high 11 strikeouts in a District 6 playoff win over Blairsville and helped guide his team to a first-round PIAA win over District 4 champ Loyalsock.
"It felt good," Curtis said of being tabbed as one of the state's best.
"I was surprised to hear it this morning. I'm really proud of myself for making it. It's a great goal to achieve. The team really helped me out, too. I couldn't have done it without them behind me."
Curtis, who is currently playing with the Orioles scout team - which travels from Maryland to Virginia to Atlanta and even delves into Florida - hopes to add a couple of miles per hour to his fastball in the offseason.
Which isn't very long by his definition.
Curtis plays baseball from the spring through the fall with winter being the prime season for his workouts, and is hoping playing with the traveling team will interest scouts from college and professional teams alike.
The Mountie senior-to-be is already hearing from the likes of Virginia Military Institute and Dartmouth, and he's optimistic his latest accomplishment will lead to bigger and better things.
"I'd rank it really high up there," said Curtis of listing an all-state selection among his accomplishments. "It'll definitely help the resume for recruiting and stuff. I'd rank it right up there with a state championship or something like that."
It's almost assured that Curtis will be playing baseball in college, just like older brothers Luke and Matt, who are at Pittsburgh and Slippery Rock, respectively.
The youngest Curtis, however, can boast that he was tabbed as one of the state's best.
"I haven't talked about that yet, but I'm sure they'll come around and say something."