unconventional approach to pitching a baseball confounds opposing hitters and gives him a unique role with the baseball team.
Using a sidearm or submarine delivery, Epstein’s pitches have movement unlike the traditional overhand throws. When gave Epstein middle relief pitching duties he knew what he was doing.
In his first outing of the season in a 8-0 loss to Elk Grove, Epstein three 2 and 1/3 shutout innings striking out four batters while yielding no walks.
“It’s a much different angle from the side,” Marsh said describing the difficulty batters have with the pitches. “It definitely gives the batter a different look. It keeps the hitter off balance.”
Though he has been playing baseball since he was 5, Epstein did not develop his submarine motion until his sophomore year with the Warriors. He pitched overhand and played infield. The change was natural for him.
“I played a lot of middle infield so the motion was natural,” Epstein said. “My coach at the time said ‘why don’t you try it.’ I worked on it a lot in the offseason.” He started out with a fastball but developed a breaking pitch and a changeup giving Marsh confidence in his hurler.
“He got the fastball down first,” Marsh said. “It’s not easy to develop a breaking ball that will slide or curve. He worked on it all summer. How you grip it will affect how it moves.”
Epstein also had an ally in catcher Zack Berman. Berman and Epstein first became battery mates when they played on the same 13-year old Deerfield traveling team. When Epstein decided to develop his sidearm approach, he had Berman to help and the catcher knows what to expect.
“His fastball has more movement than an over the top throw,” Berman said. “It cuts away from a righty and the curve ball swerves out away from the righty. It’s real difficult for the batter to adjust.” Berman and Epstein spent offseason time together working on the pitcher’s development.
When Epstein enters a game, he knows he will be surprising some batters who are used to seeing overhand pitches. It helps him force batters to keep the ball on the ground.
In addition striking out four of the seven hitters he retired, the other three outs were on grounders. Two were hit back at him. He seems to know what he is doing.
“I just try to relax,” Epstein said. “If I get strikeouts great. The hitters don’t know where the ball is coming from. I just hope they hit grounders.”