The buzz builds at Old Mountain Field when Shaun Gamelin starts his trip from the bullpen.
Teammates line the dugout fence. Scouts get their radar guns ready.
They’re watching a player whose passion for his opportunity shows through.
And they’re watching the heat.
“Every time he takes the ball, every single guy is up on the fence, the whole bullpen is on their feet,” Waves manager Eric Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “Every pitch he throws is absolute electricity.”
The former South Kingstown High Schol standout and current Rhode Island College pitcher has taken the NECBL by storm this summer as one of the top relievers in the league. Playing on his old high school field, for a team that he grew up watching, Gamelin is touching 95 miles per hour on his fastball. He has logged three saves and 22 strikeouts in just 10 innings pitched, while allowing just a single run. Gamelin was selected for the NECBL All-Star Game this past weekend, as the only Division I player on the field.
“Everything is just working right now,” Gamelin said. “It feels like all the hard work, especially during that COVID stretch, the preparation is starting to show. It’s kind of leading to results.”
The work ethic has been on display since Gamelin’s time at South Kingstown High School, where he was the ace of the pitching staff on the 2017 state-runner-up team. He began his collegiate career at Fitchburg State then transferred to Rhode Island College. After sitting out the 2019 season, he was off to a good start in 2020 when the season was cut short by the pandemic.
Disappointment eventually gave way to silver linings. Gamelin had extra time to put his work ethic to use and got his foot in the door for a big opportunity. He pitched in the Newport Collegiate League - a makeshift league created amid the pandemic - and won the Reliever of the Year award. Hirschbein-Bodnar coached in the league and was impressed.
“I saw him last year in the Newport League and he blew me away,” Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “His college coach and I are close. Following him in the spring, we promised them we would find a way to get him on the team. He deserved it. Local kid, very talented, electric arm.”
In his first full season at RIC this past spring, Gamelin was spectacular. He saved four games and struck out a whopping 42 batters in just 18.2 innings pitched.
As a 5-foot-9 right-hander at a Division III school, Gamelin has an uphill climb as he chases a professional baseball shot. But the numbers on the stat sheet and on radar guns speak for themselves.
“He plays with that chip on his shoulder because he’s not a pristine D-I player yet, he’s not a professional yet,” Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “He’s a local, self-made Division III grinder who is also really special. His fastball and slider are both pro pitches.”
The NECBL is providing significant exposure. Gamelin is trying to make the most of it, while also relishing his chance to play with a team he always wanted to suit up for.
“It’s kind of been a dream for me,” Gamelin said. “Knowing what this league was and knowing what the Waves were, playing here is awesome. It’s everything I wanted growing up playing baseball. It means a lot and I don’t take it for granted.”
His teammates and coaches can attest to that.
“He used to come here when he was younger,” Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “Now he gets to wear the jersey and wears it with way more pride and passion than almost anyone on this roster. It means a lot to him.”
The one run Gamelin allowed was in an extra-inning game, scored by the runner who started the inning on second base. He has followed with seven consecutive scoreless appearances, allowing just one hit in that span.
The closer role has been a perfect fit.
“I love it when there’s a lot of pressure on,” Gamelin said. “I want the ball. I feel like it’s a role that suits me well.”
“It’s not just about your stuff as a pitcher,” Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “It’s about your attitude, your mound presence. We joke around that he’s a different person on the mound, in a good way.”
In the All-Star Game, Gamelin delivered more of the same, striking out one in a scoreless outing. With scouts from every Major League team in the grandstand behind home plate, it was the biggest opportunity in a summer full of them.
“I’m really proud of him that he gets to represent us in the All Star Game,” Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “Hopefully he turns some heads.”
Whatever happens, Gamelin will keep working.
“The work ethic hasn’t changed since I was at SK,” he said. “I always pride myself on being the hardest worker on the team or anywhere, I guess. I get up every morning thinking, ‘Don’t let anyone out-work you.’”