Byline: Jim Wilson
COLUMN: CENTRAL MASS. BASEBALL PREVIEW
WORCESTER - Worcester Tech's Tim Collins has heard it all on his strolls out to the mound. Collins remembers hearing opposing teams get excited when they saw his 5-foot frame take the mound, thinking they were facing a junior varsity pitcher.
Then Collins starts throwing pitches. The catcalls stop, and the opposing hitters wonder what it's going to take the get a hit off the kid.
"I'm definitely deceiving," Collins said. "A lot of teams are like, `Hey, look at this kid' when I walk out to the mound, but after I throw a few innings, they're like, `Oh man.' It really motivates me when they say stuff like that. I don't let it bother me, I just go out there and feed off it and just pitch my game."
Collins helped Worcester Tech - then Worcester Voke - to a spot in the Division 2 Central Mass. final last spring and jumped onto the local scene with a 6-0 record and a 0.48 ERA.
The name has changed, and so has Collins. The senior grew 6 inches in the offseason and has practically lived in the weight room these past few months. Already established as one of the top finesse pitchers in the area, Collins put on 25-30 pounds of muscle and focused on his legs to generate more power in his delivery. Collins said that has led to an extra 6 to 7 miles per hour on his fastball, pushing it up from 82-83 mph to 86-87.
"It will be really hard to improve on last year, but I am hoping to at least be just as good," Collins said. "I feel a lot stronger because I wasn't a big kid last year."
As if the notion of one of the best pitchers in the area getting even better wasn't threatening enough, Collins also has the motivation needed to bring the Eagles back to the Division 2 final.
The team had a spectacular season come to a haunting end against Hudson in the final at Tivnan Field last spring. Collins and Hudson's Corey McDonald were engaged in a stellar pitching duel, and the game was scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning. Collins was cruising along until the fifth inning when he walked Matt Jacobs.
The left-handed Collins tried to pick Jacobs off first, but his throw from the stretch went high and rolled to the fence. The speedy Jacobs rounded second and headed for third. The throw was wild and Jacobs headed home and scored when that throw was wild as well. On the heels of that three-error play, Hudson held on to win, 1-0. Voke managed to get two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh, but...