After toiling on the Montgomery Blair High School baseball diamond through four largely successful seasons, Peirce Marston assumed he would never step on that field again much less pitch in a competitive setting on the familiar mound.
But when his coaches at Stevens Institute of Technology, an NCAA Division III school in Hoboken, N.J., inquired where Marston would be playing his 2012 summer baseball, the name Silver Spring-Takoma Park Thunderbolts of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League instantly came to mind. The team plays its home games at Blair High.
“I always worked for them throughout high school so in the winter, when our coaches were asking where we would be going to play, the Thunderbolts were foremost in my mind,” he said. “I was one of their management interns. I called [Thunderbolts general manager David] Stinson and asked if I could play and he said yes.
“[Playing at Blair] is really cool. I never thought I’d be able to play on that field again.”
Marston earned 12 wins in his four seasons at Blair, including a 5-4 mark as a senior when he beat Clarksburg, Walter Johnson, Richard Montgomery and Damascus. He also hit .340 with six doubles and 16 runs batted in as a senior.
In his first 11 2/3 innings of work as a reliever for the Thunderbolts this summer, the crafty left-hander was 1-0 with a 3.09 earned run average and one save. His victory came June 9 against the Herndon (Va.) Braves, when he allowed a run with six strikeouts in four innings.
“He came in as a very small kid,” said former Blair coach John MacDonald, who coached Marston for four years. “He looked funny as a varsity player because he was so tiny as a freshman, but he was also the most poised player I received at his age. He understood at that time how to pitch. He was unflappable. He didn’t seem to have any nerves about him. He frustrated batters.
“His strength was throwing strikes and pitching to contact. I know even now I saw him at a Thunderbolts game and he looks small again against those guys, but he has continued to throw strikes and work to contact to get people out. When you throw in the mid- to high-70s, you’re not bringing the ball. You just have to command your pitches. He threw his fastball in spots and he had a nice change-up and a better than average curveball along as he keeps it down.”
Marston’s summer season comes after a solid freshman year at Stevens, where the long-time high school starter worked mostly in relief. He compiled a 1-2 record and a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings, including two starts, as the team posted a 24-18 mark.
“It was real tough at first [making the switch from starter to reliever],” said Marston, adding that he anticipates staying in the bullpen next spring because the team has four starters returning and lost four relievers to graduation. “I was always a starter. I’m always used to having as much time as I wanted to warm up. Now I’m out of the ‘pen. I’ll still be a reliever, but I hope to be able to start my junior year.”