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A coup: thrower now a pitcher

Madeira Beach Post 273 pitcher Sean McClellan doesn't worry quite so much about his status as a pitcher. After a 6-6 year as a sophomore in high school last spring, McClellan wasn't sure if he could fit into any team's pitching rotation.

"I was a thrower and not a pitcher last spring," McClellan said. "I didn't know if I could go to the mound all the time and not worry about errors, runners on base or walks. I didn't know how to concentrate and fit in with the others."

But that quickly changed when the right-hander became a part of Madeira Beach's rotation last summer. Since last summer, McClellan has been a steady fixture on the mound for Seminole High and Post 273.

"Sean has been tough," Post 273 coach Dave Pano said. "He is a fierce competitor and doesn't give in to anyone when he is on the mound. He stays focused and gets even tougher when runners reach base. That's been a key to his success."

While playing high school and American Legion ball, McClellan has compiled a 16-1 record. He was 7-1 last summer for Post 273; for Seminole this spring he went 5-0 with a 0.68 earned run average. He was named to the Times all-county first-team recently and is currently 4-0 for Post 273 this season. He currently has a 0.89 earned run average for Post 273, has tossed two one-hitters and allowed three earned runs in 28 innings. He has struck out 39 and walked 14.

"It's been real fun," said McClellan, who hasn't lost a game since last June. "I've had a good time on the mound because I'm no longer nervous every time I step out there."

Before he joined a regular rotation, McClellan admits it was a struggle to pitch whenever his name was called.

"When you have to be the main thrower or you know you have to pitch the big game it puts more pressure on you," McClellan said. "I haven't had to worry about pitching against anyone. I just pitch now when it's my turn and I like that. It relaxes me."

McClellan has become accustomed to pitching out of a regular three- or four-man rotation because Seminole and Madeira Beach's legion team have had a wealth of talent on the mound.

At Seminole this spring, McClellan was only one part of a strong four-man rotation. For Post 273, he is the No. 1 man on a team loaded with pitchers.

"It is easier for Sean to pitch because he knows he is going to get plenty of rest in between starts," Pano said. "He can go out to the mound and have a little fun."

And it's even more fun to watch Madeira Beach (12-3 overall, 7-0 in the Pinellas Conference) mash the ball. Post 273 is averaging 8.5 runs per game. For a pitcher, that makes a world of difference.

"When you have a team that hits like this and scores runs quickly it takes all the pressure off the pitcher," McClellan said. "You know if you give up five or six runs, your team still has a chance at winning. It's tougher to pitch if you know giving up one run might lose a game for your team."

Even playing in a comfort zone, McClellan has allowed less than one run a game since last spring.

"I'm comfortable within the confines of a strong pitching rotation," said McClellan, after tossing a one-hitter against West Pasco Post 79.

Scoring machine: Post 273 has outscored its opponents 53-8 in its last four games.

Post 273 found another pitcher in Jeremy McConnell, who pitched five innings against Gulfport and allowed no hits.

Catcher Brad Gay is on a day-to-day basis after breaking his nose last week against Post 79. Gay was hitting .378 with 15 RBI and four home runs.

Joel Place is hitting .421 and has 20 RBI in only 11 games. Rick Braisted walked five straight times against Gulfport on Sunday.

On a streak. St. Petersburg Post 14 has won seven in a row and raised its record to 9-3 overall, 4-2 in the conference.