Thomas Elliott ready to pitch at PSU-Harrisburg

By on June 8, 2016
Warwick senior Thomas Elliott, who recorded four saves and struck out 18 batters in 11 innings this spring, plans to continue his career at Penn State-Harrisburg.

Warwick senior Thomas Elliott, who recorded four saves and struck out 18 batters in 11 innings this spring, plans to continue his career at Penn State-Harrisburg.

You might say that pitching is the specialty for Penn State-Harrisburg skipper Ryan Bown.

He was a four-year mainstay on the Ursinus staff for four years, earning MVP honors in 2004.

No doubt, Bown pitched with and against many quality hurlers in his career.

His job nowadays is recruiting such talent.

In Warwick’s Thomas Elliott, Bown is confident that he has done exactly that.

Coming off a senior season in which he earned four saves while striking out 18 in 11 innings, Elliott recently committed to pitching at PSU-Harrisburg.

“We’ve been kinda watching him for awhile and we’ve seen his velocity up to 85 and he competes,” Bown said. “We play in the best Division-Three conference in the country, arguably, so we knew that he kinda flew under the radar and we were able to get him and he’s definitely going to help us, I think early, with his velocity and he has a good curve ball. So we’re happy to have him.”

The feelings are mutual.

The Lions quickly became the first choice for the Warrior right-hander, and after visiting the school in December, Elliott knew it was a good fit.

“I was hooked,” he said. “I liked how (coach Bown) reached out to me and knew a lot about me. He came to a District game (in 2015) and actually saw me hit instead of pitch. But he said I was a good pitcher and he wanted me on his staff and I was like, ‘Oh wow, this coach is real interested.’”

Warwick coach Bob Locker believes too that it’s a good fit.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for Thomas,” he said. “He’s had some unfortunate breaks in terms of not being able to stay healthy. If you look at what he did as a sophomore and what he did as a junior prior to getting hurt, and then again this year … he’s got all kinds of potential. I think going to a school like that presents an opportunity where if he can get healthy, get in a weight room, put some muscle on – I just think it’s a great place for him to go to get healthy, to get some pitching in and see where it takes him.”

Having built a good relationship with B2B (now Keystone State Academy) and the B2B Bombers, Bown was able to stay updated on Elliott’s progress in high school. He saw him throw during the winter, and one thing led to another.

“A lot of it honestly was just word of mouth,” Bown said, “and having good contacts to kinda get Thomas on our radar as well.”

Elliott, who plans to study business and marketing, will join a Lions’ squad that finished 9-9 in the Capital Athletic Conference this spring and 16-23 overall, an eight-win improvement from the previous season. In Bown’s first year in 2013, Penn State-Harrisburg won a school-record 26 games and captured its first-ever North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) crown, then advanced into the NCAA Division-Three Championship Tournament for the first time in program history.

Fellow L-L League alums 2B/3B Blake Reiff and 1B Connor Bowers, of Manheim Central and Donegal, respectively, are also on the Lions’ roster.

Elliott has a three-pitch repertoire — fastball, curve and change-up. He’d like to start throwing a slider as well, but his goal right now is to add velocity and perfect his command.

“I wasn’t really getting my change-up for strikes,” Elliott said, “and that’s what I’ve got to work on.”

This year, while relying on his heater and curve, he posted a 0.00 ERA, allowing just one unearned run and five hits in eight appearances.

“When he’s healthy and throwing his pitches,” Locker said, “he’s got a legit 12-6 curve. That thing just drops off the table. When he’s healthy, he was able to throw 87-88 miles an hour. If he gets up to 87-88 with that curveball, it makes him very difficult to hit.”

Elliott missed some time each of the past two seasons with arm issues, but he has a clean bill of health and is ready to get started.

“(My status) is very good,” he said. “The coach gave me a workout schedule and I’m going to be doing that this summer.”

Added Bown: “I know he’s had the care and the MRI’s and there’s nothing wrong. When he gets here, we’re going to make sure that it stays that way and that he’s healthy. We need him on the field and we’re going to make sure he stays as healthy as possible and gets the right treatment.”

In 66 plate appearances this spring, playing in right field when not coming out of the ‘pen, Elliott batted .288 with six RBI’s and two doubles.

Bown expects to use him just as a pitcher, which is fine with Elliott.

“That’s really what I want to do,” he said.

Something else he’d really like to do is contribute right away as a freshman.

Bown, too, is hopeful that Elliott can come into college and make a quick impact.

“With our freshmen, you’re always seeing how quickly they can adapt to the college game,” he said. “Physical tools are one thing, but the mental side is another. But like I said, he competes. You know that he’s not going to be scared. He’s going to want to come in and take out people that are also competing for innings. I think that’s definitely going to help him here because we have a pretty intensive fall season where a lot of guys kinda compete for their time right away. I think what is going to hold well for him is his competitive nature.”

Asked if he projects Elliott as a starting pitcher, Bown said, “I’m not sure yet. I know he did a lot of relieving for Warwick this year, I think mainly because he had some bumps along the way with some arm issues. But we had a freshman (Brendan Riotto) come in last year that was a starter all the way in high school and he ended up being an All-Conference closer. So we’re going to evaluate that this fall and see where we need him the most.”

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