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With schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the high school sports season suspended, seniors who play spring sports are missing out on their final athletic opportunities. With that in mind, each week during the spring the Shore Sports Network will feature a senior athlete who would normally be making headlines on the field, diamond, track, golf course, tennis court or volleyball court. Each athlete will receive a $25 Jersey Mike’s gift card as the iconic Jersey Shore business continues its support of Shore Conference athletics.

CBA senior Pat Reilly. (Photo by Paula Lopez/Graphic by Steve Meyer)

Athlete: Pat Reilly

School: Christian Brothers Academy

Spring Sport: Baseball

Position: Right-handed pitcher/first baseman

Bio: Reilly will graduate from CBA with only one full season as a varsity player but has a chance to author a legacy that surpasses that of other Shore baseball greats with longer high-school resumes. In his one season, which came in 2019 as a junior, Reilly earned as spot on the Shore Sports Network All-Shore First Team by going 7-0 with a 0.67 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 19 walks in 42 innings. He opened the season with 26 strikeouts and one walk over his first 16 1/3 innings, then beat Wall ace Trey Dombroski, 1-0, with six shutout innings, threes hits, three walks and 12 strikeouts against the Group III champions.

Reilly committed to Northeastern University prior to his junior year but after topping out at 96 miles-per-hour at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championships in Jupiter, Fla. in the fall, he re-opened his recruitment and signed with Vanderbilt. Reilly is now considered one of the top players in the 2020 recruit class of the Commodores, which have produced big-name Major Leaguers on the mound like David Price, Walker Buehler, Sonny Gray and Mike Minor.

Other Sports: “I played basketball at (CBA) as a freshman, then I played in a rec league in Freehold when I was a sophomore and last year, I played in a CYO League. Basketball has always been fun for me, but I always kind of knew that I wasn’t going to play in college so there just came a point where I had to put my focus into baseball. I talked to (CBA basketball) coach (Geoff) Billet in the fall and he said there have been baseball players who have been successful doing both and I thought about it, but at that time, things were still kind of up in the air with my recruiting process, plus there was some interest from Major League scouts, so it was a little too much.”

College Plans: Vanderbilt University with a possibility to be drafted in the MLB First-Year Player Draft on June 10. Reilly is ranked the No. 182 prospect among both college and high-school players by MLB Pipeline. “I’ve always considered myself an academics guy – if I was going to get a baseball scholarship, I wanted to use that opportunity to go to the best academic school possible. That’s why I chose Northeastern when I was a junior – it’s a great school, I loved the coaching staff and I really liked the school when I went up to visit with my dad. So when things picked up and I started to get the SEC and ACC interest, I didn’t want to sacrifice academics and I think that’s what made Vanderbilt such a perfect fit.”

How are you staying in shape?: “There is only so much you can do. Gyms aren’t open so you can’t get in a power lift unless you have your own equipment. We have some equipment at home so I have been able to do some smaller workouts. I throw with my brother (CBA sophomore Colin Reilly) pretty much every day and I recently got out and threw a bullpen with (CBA catcher) Mason Wolff. I was able to get out and work with the Rapsodo and fine-tune some things with my delivery and my mechanics. I found out I was tipping my slider, so it was good to find that out now. There isn’t a whole lot we can do but if there is something small I can do, I just do that and try to get better.”

Hardest part(s) about being out of school/sports: “I really miss school. CBA is a special place and it really is a brotherhood that you share with everybody at the school and especially in your class. Those last two months of school are something that all the alumni always talk about as being the best part of their four years, so it stinks that we missed that.”

One positive that has come from having to stay home: “For me, the timing worked out. The world works in mysterious ways sometimes: if this had happened in the fall or last year, I would be in a much different situation. It’s tough to lose an opportunity to play my senior year and pitch in front of scouts, but I’m fortunate I was able to sign before all this happened. It makes you feel for the guys who really needed this year to prove themselves and you just hope they find their opportunity somewhere. The world has been through this before 100 years ago and we got through it and we’ll get through this somehow too. It’s easy to look at the negative but I think we’ll be a lot smarter and probably even a little safer once we get through all this.”

Favorite stay-at-home activity: “The CBA seniors have been on Xbox about four hours a night and it’s become pretty legendary. I probably played about an hour of Xbox in the fall and winter combined, but I’ve been on it just about every night since school closed. It can never replace actually going out and playing with your friends in a real game, but it’s a good way to hang out and bond with the guys.”

Coach’s Corner: He got to throw one bullpen in front of some scouts and coaches and all they could say was ‘Wow.’” It was a 30-pitch pen: 15 (pitches) easy and 15 at game speed. Once scout said ‘Jeez, it’s just so effortless.’ We were so excited for everyone to see him throw this year. We all heard about how he threw in Jupiter (Fla.) and we were looking forward to see that here. Sometimes you here about a kid over the summer and you never know if he is going to have it when things start up in the spring but from what we saw in the first few days at practice, it was very real.” – Marty Kenney Jr., CBA head coach