Mike Shannon doesn’t do much talking. He lets the numbers do that.
Shannon has helped lead the Triton baseball team to an 8-0 start while putting up ridiculous numbers at the plate and on the mound.
How good is he right now?
Through eight games last season, Shannon batted .444 and drove in seven runs. He had an ERA of 5.51 after his first four appearances.
Through eight games this season, Shannon was hitting at a .600 clip and wielded a 0.85 ERA through four appearances. He also had two double-digit strikeout performances. He had one all of last year.
“The main word I would use to describe him is that he has a lot of poise,” said Triton coach Bob Wankel. “He’s got a little bit of a bulldog mentality in him. He’s not the most vocal guy, he’s not the guy you’re always going to hear, but he wants the ball. He’s extremely confident in himself and I think that’s something I’ve seen grown in him."
Shannon, a Rowan University recruit, has been driven in part by his unconventional pitching method. He’s 4-0 with 35 strikeouts through 24 2/3 innings and isn’t doing it with a flashy fastball, which might not even be the third-best pitch in his arsenal.
“He’s not a guy that’s going to hit 90 [m.p.h.] on the gun, and I think a lot of times people get caught up in velocity and guys lighting up the radar gun," Wankel said. "He doesn’t necessarily do it. Not to say he doesn’t have zip on the fastball -- he can bring it if he needs to -- but he’ll throw his changeup for a strike, his curveball for a strike in all counts. He’s willing to pitch backwards to hitters. Because he has good command of his pitches, that’s what makes him difficult to hit.”
Shannon knows he’s “different,” and says that standing out has played a factor in his development.
“It takes a lot of pitching talent to hit spots and pitch around people, know when to throw what," Shannon said. "Those guys that throw hard, that’s something that I wish I could do, but it’s nice to be different. I’m pretty proud of it.”
Even though some might see him as a pitcher first, Shannon is first on the team in batting average with at least 10 plate appearances, first in hits, tied for first in doubles and third in runs. He had 19 hits in 52 at-bats all of last year. He’s got 15 in 25 trips to the plate with 12 games left in the regular season this year.
Just like his pitching, Shannon takes a different approach at the plate.
“A lot of guys want to jack the ball out to left field," Wankel said. "Mike does a good job of staying middle. He’ll hit the ball through the middle, he’ll hit the ball to right field. I think that’s been a big part of his success. I know it sounds a little bit cliche, but when you put the ball in play at the varsity level and you put the ball in play hard, good things are going to happen. That’s what’s happened to him at this point.”
Shannon and the team remain unfazed through all of the attention. This was shown in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Williamstown, which came in walk-off fashion thanks to Shannon’s sacrifice fly in the seventh. Williamstown pitcher Jacob Addis is one of the best in South Jersey, allowing just eight runs through 31 1/3 innings for a 1.79 ERA.
These are the players the team wants to go against.