New faces try to make a name for themselves in bullpen | News, sports, jobs

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Gavin Perry of the Williamsport Crosscutters signs autographs during Sunday’s “Meet the Cutters” event at Bowman Field.

If you tried to drive from Williamsport to Gavin Perry’s hometown of Bonita, California, it would take you almost 40 hours. And yet Perry finds himself in Williamsport as a member of the Crosscutters’ newly formed bullpen, a bullpen that features pitchers from every part of the country outside of the Northwest.

That’s not a prospect he’s overly concerned about as he prepares for the task ahead. Right now, he’s focused on playing the sport he loves to the best of his ability and improving the competition.

“I’m just looking forward to playing against such high-level competition,” Perry said. “Obviously everyone’s dream here is to go out, perform and get drafted. So I try not to really bother with that because when it’s out of my control, I just have fun, play for the Lord and have a good time.”

He has had a tumultuous college career, with his previous school at San Diego Christian College closing after his sophomore season. But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to improve his game. He considers his biggest strengths to be consistency in hitting the strike zone and being a good team player.

“I was fortunate enough to play in a really good Division 2 conference. The Lone Star Conference was able to improve my game a lot, but it was a grind,” said Perry, who finished his junior season on the LSC third team. “It was an uphill battle at times, but I love it. I love the game.”

Like Perry, Zachary Murray has also faced significant obstacles. He spent one season at LSU before a torn labrum and rotator cuff put his remaining career in doubt.

After a lengthy recovery process and a brief stint at Georgia Highlands College of the GCAA, he would find his feet during his junior and senior seasons at Young Harris College in Georgia, where he posted a 3.21 ERA with 99 strikeouts and only 32 walks as a senior.

“Over the last two years I have really taken my game to the next level and in my final year I achieved everything I wanted and more,” said Murray, who grew up in Ball Ground, Georgia. “I think this year, going to summer ball, the draft and all this stuff, it’s going to be perfect for me and really boost me as a player and as a man.”

Both players have enjoyed the start of their time in Pennsylvania and look forward to learning under pitching coach Anthony Markle and the Crosscutter coaching staff.

Murray calls his leadership one of his biggest strengths and hopes to learn how to effectively analyze a scouting report while consistently helping the team double down on certain fields. Perry hopes to continue building on his pitching speed.

“The boys are great. They clearly have a lot of baseball knowledge from the baseball years under them, and I hope to one day be in their shoes.” Murray said. “Anything I can take from them, I’m going to do.”

“They certainly know the game and have been involved with it a lot,” Perry said. “I’m really looking forward to learning from them and improving my knowledge and what I can do on the field.”

There are still many questions to be answered regarding the bullpen, with no definitive role assigned and no clear asset as of this writing. But Markle and manager Ryan Hannigan had a chance to see some guys pitch on Sunday and so far they’re impressed with what they see.

When asked who stood out so far, Markle highlighted Murray, along with a few other guys like Georgia Southwestern State’s Nick McCollum, South Dakota State’s Alex Clemons and Millersville’s Zack Tukis. A focus for Hannigan is hard work and several guys have ticked that box initially.

‘He’s excited. He saw today that there are guys here who are ready to work and that was very encouraging for us.” Markle said of Hannigan. “These guys came in today. They were mentally prepared. They were physically prepared and sharp. So we were happy that they were.”

A lot is still up in the air, but first impressions are optimistic.

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