By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Ex-collegiate and professional pitcher Jay Broughton is a 36-year-old flame thrower who tossed an amazing game back on July 31st for his Pirates in the 25-over division of the Indiana Baseball League. His game consisted of 13 innings thrown and 23 strikeouts in a 6-5 victory over the Raiders.
“They scored three runs in the first inning, mostly on errors and my walking a couple of guys and then hitting a couple more,” laughed Broughton. “I wasn’t dialed in yet but then things leveled out for me. We had to battle back all game after the hole we dug.”
Now for the history lesson. Jay is the usual graduate of 70 to 90 games per summer of travel ball as a youth and then a successful high school career on the mound. He was drafted by Milwaukee but decided to further refine his skill and attended Ball State. The only issue was that the college coaches started changing things.
“I was touching 92 as a freshman and doing well. Then the college coaches changed my mechanics and when it didn’t work, I lost a lot of confidence in my abilities. I stuck it out and started toward my masters in strength conditioning, thinking that my pitching was coming to an end.”
But he was wrong. Opportunities started to come from other sources.
“I decided to quit grad school and took what was left on my school money and go to Arizona and play in the winter league. I played for a month down there and they saw something in me. They had a draft and I was picked up by the Calgary Vipers and played in the golden league. Two weeks in, we were playing The Orange County Flyers out in California, when I hit 97 mph and Boston bought my contract.
I was shipped off to Lowell, Massachusetts to play for the Lowell Spinners, which is a Boston single-A team. The team was actually playing in Burlington, Vermont when I arrived.”
“As exciting of a time that was, their program had me throwing literally every day, which resulted in tendonitis and put me on the DL,” Jay further explained. “I ended up playing in Maui but still had arm issues, ending up with Tommy John surgery. Being a personal trainer, I knew what I had to do to get back and was actually throwing in only a few months, but over the months and years, it became evident that a professional dream was slipping away. But the great thing about Maui is that I met my wife there, so it was all worth it.”
Fast forwarding to the memorable July day in the Indiana MSBL, where Jay has spent the past dozen years, I asked him if there were any periods during the grueling 13 innings that he thought his day might be over.
“By the 11th inning I was on fumes,” said Jay. “But the 11th was only eight pitches so I told our manager that I was still good. Every time I threw, my legs and calves were starting to cramp. After every inning the manager kept asking me how I was doing and I kept saying ‘one more.’ I knew that one way or the other that the 13th was the last.”
I asked Jay which pitch was working and what his mindset was.
“It was warm and humid so I was loose. It hit me in the third inning that I was really on and felt great. I already had eight strikeouts by then and felt like I could blow them away and not have to throw to contact. I always want to get everyone out myself, if possible. That has always been my mindset. My outpitches are usually the slider and curveball but in that 13-inning game, I threw mostly fastballs and change-ups. I only threw about 15 to 20 breaking balls all game. In order, best to worst, my pitches are fastball, slider, curveball, and change.”
The Raiders pitcher went nine innings as they scored three in the first and one in the 12th, so it was up to Jay’s guys to find a way to pull it out against his replacement. In the top of the 13th, the Pirates took the lead.
“Our other pitcher’s arms were hurting a little and one guy actually had a broken arm. It was pretty much my game to win or lose and I didn’t want to lose this game so I just kept going.
I don’t make it to every game because we have three kids and one on the way so life gets in the way. But the guys keep it going all year long so I didn’t want to let them down. They deserved everything I could bring. I had to hold them in the bottom of the 13th.”
Jay is also a veteran of the national tournament stage.
“We always play in our league’s Labor Day tournament and have played a few times in Florida. I also play in Puerto Rico. Although our ‘travel in the heat’ team was supposed to go to Arizona to the World Series this year it looks like we are heading back to Florida to defend our championship title.”
I asked Jay if there are any individuals he would like to recognize as being a large part of where he is now in his MSBL experience.
“There could not be a better guy to run our league than Damon Grothe. A guy you just know is going to put his best foot forward each and every time he has the opportunity, even if that means putting himself behind the eight ball. First class all the way.”