Here are some of the top local players taking the field in 2017. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
While Brandon Knarr has matured physically and mentally since he burst onto the scene at Eastern York, his approach on the pitcher’s mound hasn’t changed a great deal.
The senior, who will move on to pitch at Notre Dame next year, keeps things as simple as he can.
“I’ve just tried to get bigger, faster, stronger and make sure my pitches are continuing to get better,” Knarr said. “Basically, I am going forward and making sure I am still pounding the strike zone. I try to make sure I treat every batter like they are the best guy I am going to face.”
Eastern sophomore catcher Tyler Morgan knows he is a fortunate to be able to catch someone with Knarr’s talent, and he gladly lets the pitcher call the shots.
“I feel lucky to be able to catch him and he’s a great kid, fun to talk to,” Morgan said. “He doesn’t really like when I give him advice and he knows a lot more than I do, so I kind of let him do what he does.
“Either you have it or you don’t when catching him, because you really don’t have time to think about it. You just have to react.”
Golden Knights coach Blaine Garner has the same approach.
“He’s got a good game plan and has seen a lot of these teams already,” Garner said. “He’s pretty much out there on his own, doing what he needs to do. He’s been throwing excellent games so far this season.”
In his last three starts, Knarr has allowed only one hit in each game and one total run. He has recorded a combined 46 strikeouts, including 19 against Hanover and 17 vs. Littlestown.
One adjustment that Knarr and Garner have had to make is adapting to the PIAA's new pitch count rule, which limits starters to 100 pitches.
Against both Littlestown and Hanover, Knarr had to be pulled with only one out remaining because he reached the pitch count.
It seems strange for a pitcher to have to sit down during a dominant performance, but that's the downside to being a strikeout machine: It means you're likely throwing more pitches.
Because of it, Knarr has become even more aggressive on the mound, attacking batters while using fewer waste pitches.
“It’s one of those things, you play by the rules. It’s hard to finish the games sometimes,” Garner said. “It’s not like Brandon is not throwing a lot of strikes. He is throwing a lot of strikes, versus last year when you were seeing a lot more balls from him. Now you are seeing consistency.”
Dedicated to his routine, Knarr makes sure to not change his between-start habits, even if that means throwing indoors, which he and his Knights teammates were forced to Thursday because of the rainy weather.
“For me, it’s making sure my arm stays in shape and that I get my reps each day,” he said. “Whether it is inside or out, I make sure to keep my arm on the same routine. I’ve pretty much done the same routine since my sophomore year, tweaked it a little bit.”
After all, why mess with success?