SALEM NEWS: Murphy, Klingensmith a reliable 1-2 punch out of the Stonehill baseball bullpen

By Jean DePlacido Correspondent | Mar 29, 2018 



The Stonehill College baseball team returned from a successful road trip in Florida with a winning record against tough competition — only to have their first few games back home postponed because the diamonds were covered with snow.

"It was a bit frustrating to come back from sunny 85 degree weather to 18 inches of snow on the ground," said sophomore Chris Murphy, who was a starting pitcher at St. John's Prep and has been switched to a reliever for the Skyhawks.

The team has gotten back out on the field now and sport a 9-7 after Wednesday's 2-1 win over Bentley. Murphy and the team's closer, Joe Klingensmith of Topsfield, have played big roles in the squad's success. Murphy spun three scoreless innings of 2-hit ball in Wednesday's win, while Klingensmith got the game's final out, via strikeout, for his fifth save.

Klingensmith, who has also played the infield at Stonehill, starred at Masconomet as both a starting pitcher and dangerous hitter. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander from Topsfield was a key member of the Chieftains' 2014 state championship squad and was named the Cape Ann League's Kinney Division MVP.

"I've always been a starter, and this is the first time I've been the closer in college — although I did it a little bit last summer (for the Nashua Silver Knights)," said Klingensmith, who has a dozen strikeouts in his 10 appearances and also has a win in addition to his five saves. "It's a lot different from starting, but I think I've got the temperament for it.

"Chris does a great job getting the ball to me. Pitchers are creatures of habit, but instead of knowing when you're pitching we have to be ready to go at any time. I rely mostly on my fastball and slider. The slider has been working well, and I throw it a lot on the first pitch."

A business major, Klingensmith tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder and couldn't pitch at all last year, but was able to step in to help out when the third baseman went down. "I played third all season," he said. "This year we're short on arms with a couple of injuries, so I've been put in as the closer — which I'm enjoying a lot."

One of the injured hurlers is freshman Brendan Powicki from St. John's Prep, who will miss the entire season after knee surgery.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Murphy, who was a three-sport athlete at St. John's (football, basketball, baseball), said new pitching coach Tom Farmer — who had been the Mass Maritime pitching coach — has made a big difference.

"He has helped me a lot," said Murphy, who is majoring in criminology. In seven games this spring, he's 1-0 with a 1.96 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings. "Last year as a freshman I was learning everything, but now as a sophomore I'm attacking the zone more. Coach Farmer has a lot more structured system. I have a partner to train with and my own schedule to follow.

"I really like the setup role for Joe and try to help the team whatever I can do. I think we make a pretty good 1-2 combination.

The right-hander from Swampscott said he relies on a cutter 90 percent of the time, but also has a good fastball and slider. The Northeast-10 uses wood bats, so he tries to get a lot of ground balls and rely on his defense to make the plays.

During Stonehill's trek through Florida, Klingensmith was 1-1 with four saves in 8 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts. Murphy pitched 14 1/3 innings with one win, 15 K's and only four walks. The Skyhawks went 8-7 during their 15 games in the Sunshine State, much better than last year's 5-10 showing.

"We played a lot of very good teams and there were many close games," said Klingensmith. "Coach Farmer is doing a great job with everyone. He's really knowledgeable and easy to talk to (and) managing the pitching staff really well.

"I expect my role to be strictly pitching this season, but I may be available to pinch hit in some situations."

This was originally published on the Swampscott Wicked Local and can be found at: