PRETTY MUCH every pitcher in baseball history has talked about loving that position because of the chance to control the game.
And then there's Mike Sullivan, a 6-1, 190-pound senior at Philadelphia Academy Charter.
For him, control was almost a four-letter word.
Sullivan often took the mound in youth ball and even made an appearance or three for PAC as a freshman. But if coach Jack Smith would try to make him pitch now, well, let's just say security guards might need to get involved.
"Pitching just wasn't me," Sullivan said. "I tried to do a good job, and I even went through workouts here and there with my father to try to improve. Despite a lot of work, it never went right. I was never completely comfortable."
"I'd throw a few pitches off the top of the cage," he said. "It would get ugly. Only once in a while . . . Well, really, too much."
Sullivan discussed his mound misadventures Thursday after a Public B game that required only five innings, in part because of him.
The centerfielder, a lefty swinger at No. 3 in the order, went 2-for-2 with a double, walk and four RBI as PAC stormed to a 13-3 win over visiting Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter.
The home Chargers (that's also PE & T's nickname) dropped a 10-spot in the first inning as Sullivan milked a walk the first time up, then crushed a two-run double to right-center in plate appearance No. 2. Jim O'Connor (single) also provided a two-run hit in the outburst, fueled by six safeties, three walks and three errors.
Sullivan entered the game batting .471. He scrambled toward .500 in the second inning, thanks to a gift-wrapped, two-run single to left-center; no one took charge on a popup and the ball fell safely.
Of the double, Sullivan said, "I almost got a couple pitches I wanted, then really did on the third one. Fastball right down the middle. It felt great. Hits like that get me into the game even more."
Bailey Broomhead and Eric Heisler scored on the double. Racing home on the single were Tim Zink and Wyatt Broomhead. The beneficiary was Travis Zink, a junior lefty.
Your instincts are correct. The Broomheads and Zinks are brothers, but, ah, Heisler was also part of the sibling scenario. His brother, Nike, played second base for PE & T. (Oh, and Tyler Sharp started at second for PAC. His brother, Corey, a starter at George Washington, was a spectator because the Eagles were idle.)
Though Sullivan had no brother in the ballgame, he does have a pretty cool, sports-world relative. His first cousin, Penn Charter product Chris Albright, is a defender for the Philadelphia Union.
Mike also plays soccer, as a sweeper, and is primed to take his talents to Penn State Abington.
"It's pretty cool to have a cousin who's so good in a sport that's also your favorite," Sullivan said. "When you're getting advice from him, you know it's good stuff. It's even better because we both play defense. He's a great example for me.
"We talked recently and he knows I'm going to Penn State Abington. He's been very busy, of course, but he's going to talk to me soon to give me advice for getting ready for college soccer.
"Our family is going to one of his games soon. That'll be great."
Though Travis Zink was roughed up early - Ray Guinther, Tom Hicks, Rob Payne and losing pitcher Justin Brown opened the gane with singles; the first three scored - only one PE & T guy reached base thereafter.
For PAC, Bailey Broomhead and Tim Zink joined Sullivan in the two-hit club, while Travis Zink halved four RBI with O'Connor.
Sullivan, who lives near Torresdale and Linden, is unsure about a college major.
Piece of advice: If you're thinking of giving him suggestions on what career path to follow, don't begin by saying, "Here's an idea I'd like to pitch to you."
You've been warned. Control yourself.