It’s not quite accurate to say PVMHS senior Pat Ruotolo is taking some time off just because he’s not playing a fall sport for the Tanners. The 17-year-old is hard at work getting ready for the upcoming hockey season, and keeping fit for next spring when he’ll take the mound, as one of the best high school pitchers in the area.
Ruotolo is playing in a fall hockey league in Stoneham twice a week with many of his Peabody High teammates. Ruotolo is a defenseman and will captain the hockey team this winter, and the baseball team next spring.
“We didn’t make the (hockey) state tournament last year, and that was disappointing; we’ve got a lot of good players back, so we’re hoping for a good season,” he said.
Hockey practice for this year’s team starts the Monday after Thanksgiving, and Ruotolo can’t wait to take the ice for the 2012-2013 season. But while Ruotolo loves hockey, baseball is his best sport -- he’s got a ticket to UConn next fall to play baseball for the Huskies.
The five-foot-ten-inch pitcher credits skating and playing hockey with strengthening his legs and his core, allowing him to get his fastball up to 90 miles an hour, which is a very difficult speed for most high school players to get the bat on.
Ruotolo pitched three no-hitters last season for the Tanners, wiping out Marblehead, Swampscott and Salem. The shutouts included back-to-back efforts against the Witches and the Big Blue.
“In some of the games we had big leads early, 10-0, 7-0, so it was easier to just stay focused and throw strikes,” Ruotolo said. “I try not to think too much, just play my game and get outs.”
Peabody took on Lynn English in the playoffs last spring, and the Bulldogs took out the Tanners despite Peabody wiping out Lynn English twice during the regular season.
“We weren’t happy about that game. They came to play, we didn’t, we blew them out twice during the season, we just couldn’t get it done that day,” Ruotolo said.
He took the loss in that game and is working as hard as he can to make sure Peabody gets the “W” the next game against Lynn English.
“We want to win a state championship in hockey and in baseball, that’s our goal, that’s why we play,” he said.
“I pitched for the first time when I was about nine,” Ruotolo said. “Really, it’s because of hockey -- strong legs -- that I’m able to throw so hard.”
Ruotolo lives in South Peabody with his mom and dad; his older brother Paul is currently serving in the U. S. Marine Corps, stationed at Parris Island in South Carolina.
In addition to the ice time in Stoneham this fall, Ruotolo works out at CrossFit Full Potential in Newburyport to stay sharp for baseball and hockey. When he’s not on the mound or on the ice, he likes to watch ESPN and hang out with his friends.
“UConn’s close, but not too close; they’re solid academically, which I need to work on, and they’ve got a great baseball program,” he said, in terms of his college prospects after high school. “Hockey’s great, it’s a fast-paced game, a lot of fun, a lot of quick thinking, but I really enjoy baseball.”
“My dad is my biggest influence, my biggest supporter,” Ruotolo said, adding that the community really cares about sports.
“There’s a good atmosphere for sports at Peabody, a great history here and it’s good to be part of it,” he said.