Hometown Hero

July 17, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Dusty Isaacs had a chance to follow “the crowd” this summer and play with dozens of other college baseball players in the esteemed Cape Cod League.

He chose to stay home with the goal of eventually standing out.

The right-handed pitcher appeared in a lot of games for Georgia Tech as a freshman, but started just once, and when he has it to do all over again as a sophomore he wants to start more.

So rather than head to the Cape where Isaacs was concerned that he might again blend in with the relief crowd, he went home to Lebanon, Ohio, to spend the summer pitching for Hamilton (Ohio) in the Great Lakes Summer League as a starter.

“I really wanted this summer to make sure that I was going to be able to A: start as opposed to come off the bench, and; B: really develop all my pitches,” Isaacs said. “I knew if I went up here there to throw I might not get the chance to start.” Given that two of Tech’s three weekend starter positions figure to be open, Isaacs has his eyes on those spots. He’s tracking in that direction.

For the Yellow Jackets, he tied Luke Bard – another aspiring starter — for the team lead with 25 appearances, and had a 2.72 ERA (same as Bard, who will compete for a starting spot along with returning starters Buck Farmer and Matt Grimes).

“That would be ideal; I’d really like that challenge. I’ve always been a starter, but it’s really whatever coach [Danny] Hall wants and whatever is best for the team,” Isaacs said. “I’m just going do what is asked of me.”

He had to ask himself questions before choosing his summer baseball destination. Isaacs has made tough decisions before. The 6-foot, 182-pound rising sophomore was quite the high school football player, ranking among Ohio Division I leaders in passing yards before opting to stick with baseball.

“[Football] was something I was looking into, but once I realized I could play baseball at a higher level in college I kind of wrote it off,” Isaacs said. “I had a few MAC offers, and some MAC schools offered to let me be a preferred walk-on.” The baseball thing appears to be working out.

Two Fridays ago he struck out 16 in 8.2 innings, picking up the win while pitching for Hamilton, which is a few miles north of Cincinnati and a few miles south of his Lebanon home.

“It was one of those games where I felt like I had everything working pretty well, my arm felt pretty good, and I was able to make all my pitches,” Isaacs said. That performance sent him to the Great Lakes Summer League All-Star game with a 4-1 record, a 2.16 ERA, and 37 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.

All he did in there Wednesday was strike out three batters in one inning.

Isaacs said he’s enjoying time with his family, and he had a good time in Cincinnati watching the Reds play the Cardinals recently, but his college home is calling. He’ll room with Tech teammates Clay Dalton, Devin Stanton, and Connor Kendricks (all pitchers, by the way).

“We’re going to have an off-campus,” Isaacs said. “I’ll get back [to Tech] a few days early. I can’t wait to get back; I think it will be a great year.”

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