Baseball can’t be played without a pitcher or catcher.
Without his catcher, a pitcher has no one to throw to and create a pace of game with. And for a catcher without his pitcher, he has no one to give pitch signs to and to keep in check throughout a game.
“For those two positions to really be in sync, it’s what makes the team go,” former Manhattan College pitching coach Justin Echevarria said. “So that’s why it’s called the battery. Without those two guys, there really is no season. … You’re only as good as they are.”
Before coming to Manhattan as a volunteer assistant, Echevarria was a catcher at Seton Hall. He remembered in his final year, while at the Big East conference tournament, there was a freshman starter on the mound. And his team was beating Albany 5-2, but there were two baserunners aboard threatening to score.
As the situation progressed, he noticed his pitcher looked fatigued on the mound because the baseball was beginning to elevate with each throw. He immediately ran out toward him to see how he was feeling.
“Listen, you’re pitching a heck of a game,” Echevarria recalled telling him. “All we need is one more out. Get us out of this.”
After he finished talking, Echevarria looked him in the eyes. When he returned behind home plate, his pitcher threw a strike on the next pitch and then on the following one caused the batter to pop-out to end the inning.
“I always relay to our guys, the pitching, catching relationship is like being in an actual relationship,” Echevarria said. “It’s built on trust and…communication.”
“As weird as that sounds,” Manhattan catcher Chris Reynolds said. “It is.”
Mount Saint Vincent’s Tyler Krolikowski both pitches and hits as a first-baseman. He has been caught by his catcher Steven Giustino since summer leagues before college and in their three years at MSV. Krolikowski throws bullpens to Giustino every week, in the winter and back home in the offseason.
“You see the confidence in the pitcher,” Krolikowski said of how a hitter can perceive a pitcher. “The pitcher knows how to get you out as the catcher knows how to get you out. They’re just in sync. The pitcher is firing them at you not even thinking about it.”
When a catcher has a good understanding of what a pitcher is trying to do. It takes stress off the pitcher. All he has to do is go out and execute his pitching. A catcher can see how a batter’s feet are set and swing mechanics on particular pitches, Manhattan pitcher Mike Scarinci said.
“You’re going into the game, and it’s just one less thing to worry about,” Scarinci said.
Echevarria recalled that whenever he caught a freshman pitcher he would lead them through trust in him and his work ethic behind the plate.
“It’s a lot different than high school in the sense that…when you messed up nobody really told you, ‘Listen, be better. You can’t do that,’” Manhattan pitcher Tom Cosgrove said of how his catchers are helping him adjust as a freshman. “If I do something wrong Mikey [Miranda] or Reynolds are the first ones to come out and tell me, ‘Fix it up.’ They just let me know and tell me straight up, and I listen because I know they know what they’re talking about.”
“When that happens it really is a beautiful thing to watch,” Echevarria said. “Guys are lockstep. There’s flow, rhythm to the game [and] game calling.”