Don Bosco's phenom
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
RAMSEY — Eric Pfisterer's eyes are the window to a pitcher's soul.
"He gets this look in his eye," said Don Bosco pitching coach Frank Eufemia. "It's hard to explain. He doesn't care who's up there, he just wants to get you out.
"I always use the term with my pitchers, 'eye of the tiger' and he epitomizes what that phrase means. It's an intensity. A focus. He literally pitches angry, but he's able to channel that anger positively. I know it sounds corny, but he does it."
Focus. Anger. Intensity.
Call it what you will, but so far this season it has worked wonders for Bosco's senior left-hander from Saddle River. In three starts, Pfisterer has thrown two no-hitters and a one-hitter, striking out 32 and walking four in 16 innings.
"Angry?" Pfisterer asked. "I guess that's one way to put it. I do pump myself up a little out there. I'm loose, but I do have a little fire in my eye.
"When I'm out there, it is just me and the batter. It is being focused. I might fool around until I step on that field, but when I need to be ready, I'm there."
That sounds a little like someone who has spent years developing a philosophy of pitching, but the truth is Pfisterer is still a relative newcomer to the pitching fraternity. His father is a doctor who has dealt with a lot of sore young arms in his day, and Pfisterer didn't become a regular pitcher until last season.
Pfisterer is also a first baseman, and his bat and glove mean as much to the Ironmen (10-0), ranked No. 1 in The Record Top 25, as his arm. He has 21 hits in his first 32 at-bats (.636 average) with four doubles, a triple, a home run and a team-high 19 RBI.
So is it any surprise that he wanted assurances that he could pitch and play first base before he accepted his scholarship to Duke?
"I have the best of both worlds," said Pfisterer, who is considering majoring in business or economics. "To me, pitching and hitting go hand in hand. I've been a hitter all my life, and I know how a hitter thinks. When I'm pitching, I use that to my advantage."
"He is the whole package," said Bosco coach Greg Butler, who raved about two double plays he started with slick stops at first base against Cranford.
Teaneck coach Ed Klimek saw that firsthand Monday as Pfisterer no-hit the Highwaymen.
"He is an absolute stud," Klimek said. "As the game went on and he started to smell that no-hitter, he began to throw the ball harder.
"He does get mad out there. Hit the ball, and he gets mad. I had one kid, a little lefty come up. He pitched him inside, and the hitter jumped away like he was facing Randy Johnson."
Professional scouts have been regulars at Bosco games, checking out all the Division I talent. Pfisterer is firmly planted on their radar now, and he's already heard from the Yankees, Florida, Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Pfisterer said the Indians' scout called him after Monday's no-hitter against Teaneck, and some teams are scheduled to visit his home.
"I talked to one scout who said I was making his job tougher because he has to file two reports on me; one as a hitter and one as a pitcher," Pfisterer said with a laugh. "The Indians' guy told me that I barely make out and strike everybody out. He was very complimentary about my ability as both a hitter and a pitcher.
"It's nice that they appreciate me, not just as a hitter and not just as a pitcher," Pfisterer said. "I think they see me as an overall athlete."
With a father who is a doctor and three older siblings in medical school, Pfisterer knows the value of that scholarship to Duke. He's impressed by all the attention from the scouts, but he's not about to let his head get lost in the clouds.
"Isn't that any kid's ultimate dream?" said Pfisterer, whose fastball has been clocked in the low-90's. "Just being drafted as an option or even just being able to talk about it is a real pat on the back and recognition of all your hard work.
"But I also have a scholarship to a great academic school. My family has always been about academics, and Duke seems to me to be the perfect fit. If I pass up that diploma, it would have to be for something perfect."