Jamestown's Devine capped special senior year with state player of year nod

Contact Reporterkholtzman@vagazette.com

To outside observers, Ryan Devine was as unlikely a candidate as any to be a two-sport force at Jamestown prior to his junior year.

He had played only junior varsity in both basketball and baseball entering the 2015-16 hoops season.

Devine departed the school two years later with a share of the Group 4A Baseball Player of the Year honor with Kettle Run's Will Merriken after starting on the Eagles' basketball team that reached the 4A championship game.

In the fall, the 2017 Virginia Gazette Baseball Player of the Year will suit up for the St. Joseph's University baseball team in Philadelphia.

"He was one of the most rapidly developing baseball players I've ever coached," Jamestown coach John Cole said. "A supremely coachable young man, a fierce competitor, always knew what to do to get better."

Cole knew what to do to make Devine a better pitcher when Cole took over the program after 25 years of coaching in college including eight seasons as University of Pennsylvania head coach: change Devine's delivery.

Devine was struggling to make the proper adjustments with his body to throw impressively overhand, so Cole instructed him to come with a sidearm motion. It took only one pitch for Cole to see the ball do what it was supposed to on a delivery from the side.

"I improved drastically," Devine said. "I started winning a lot more games, getting a lot more batters out."

Devine went on to lose in his junior season only once to eventual champion Hanover before posting a 0.94 ERA while striking out 75 batters in 74 1/3 innings of work this season. His only loss was a 3-2 defeat to Tabb in his first outing back from basketball.

Devine's bat was not needed as much his junior campaign with guys like Kent Klyman and Evan Lowery in the order, so Cole needed convincing to let Devine swing.

"You have to give him a lot of credit," Cole said. "He came up to me last year and said, 'Coach, you gotta let me hit.' I said, 'No way. I've seen you swing.'"

Good competitors usually find a way, Cole noted.

As a senior this season, Devine hit third in the order and finished batting .368 with 19 RBIs and 16 runs scored, while playing second and third base and outfield.

Devine helped Jamestown to a 20-game win streak that was snapped in the 4A quarterfinals by powerhouse Hanover, 2-1, in 13 innings.

Devine struck out eight in 8 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and an unearned run.

"It was cool getting to play in that environment under the lights against one of the top teams in the state," Devine said. "We thought we could win the game. We believed we could win the game and we were a couple of timely hits away from winning the game."

Devine saved his best season for last, as did classmates Michael Schmidt, Kevin Mooney and Andrew Barrow.

And Cole anticipates Devine will continue to improve as he moves up to Division I baseball and adds weight to his frame.

The Jamestown baseball and basketball teams combined this school year to go 47-6. Devine and Schmidt, each a post player on the hardwood, were the only two athletes who played on both teams.

Devine said, "They were great ways to go out for my high school career."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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