McHugh re­turns to Berry as World Se­ries cham­pion

Calhoun Times - - LOCAL SPORTS - By Jeremy Ste­wart

— It was less than three months ago that for­mer Berry Col­lege pitcher Collin McHugh was in Los An­ge­les, at Dodgers Sta­dium to be pre­cise, cel­e­brat­ing with his Houston team­mates.

Be­ing part of the Astros’ World Se­ries cham­pi­onship is the most re­cent high­light in McHugh’s jour­ney through pro­fes­sional base­ball. But the Illi­nois na­tive says it was his days of pitch­ing for the Vik­ings un­der the eye of head coach David Beasley which set the stage for what he has been able to ac­com­plish in the last decade.

“This is where I re­ally cut my teeth on how to play and how to pitch, and re­ally take my game to the next level,” McHugh said Tues­day. “So I’ve al­ways had a spe­cial place in my heart not only for coach Beasley, but for the whole staff and the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

McHugh re­turned to his alma mater Tues­day, tak­ing time to visit with pro­fes­sors and stu­dents through­out the day, as well as talk to the Berry base­ball team prior to a speak­ing en­gage­ment in the evening in the school’s Kran­nert Cen­ter Ball­room.

In four sea­sons with the Astros, the 6-foot-2 pitcher has a 48-28 record and 3.70 ERA. He worked his way back from an early sea­son in­jury last year and threw four shutout in­nings in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Yan­kees.

He took the mound in the fifth in­ning of Game 5 of the World Se­ries against Los An­ge­les with the game tied 4-4 and pitched two in­nings of a 10-in­ning, 13-12 win for Houston that in­cluded six game-ty­ing home runs, a World Se­ries record.

“I’m still a huge base­ball fan, and I’m not so far re­moved from it or so far in it that I can’t have the per­spec­tive to know that it prob­a­bly was one of the great­est post­sea­son games of all time and I was lucky enough to pitch in it,” McHugh said, adding a per­sonal jab that he did give up a three-run homer.

Houston had just com­pleted its third-straight 100-loss sea­son when McHugh joined the or­ga­ni­za­tion in De­cem­ber of 2013. He said pitch­ing in that mo­ment rep­re­sented ev­ery­thing that he and the team had come to terms with dur­ing the come­back.

“It’s some­thing that I think is go­ing to stick with me for a long time, the trust that the staff, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has in me to pitch in that sit­u­a­tion. I think it speaks to the work we’ve put in over the last four years and the work that this or­ga­ni­za­tion has put in to be­come what we are to­day,” McHugh said.

McHugh and his wife live in At­lanta, so he said it’s not too far for him to get back to the Berry cam­pus, which he tries to do at least once dur­ing the off­sea­son to see Beasley and the base­ball play­ers as they pre­pare for the up­com­ing sea­son.

“It’s been al­most a decade since I’ve been out of here, so there’s a new crop of play­ers now but it’s fun to see that the spirit of Berry base­ball just hasn’t changed. It’s still a great group of guys fo­cused on aca­demics, build­ing char­ac­ter and grow­ing as men,” McHugh said.

“Beas’ and the guys have al­ways done a great job of pre­par­ing young men to live in the real world, and I’m still not there yet. I’m still in the base­ball world. So they also did a pretty darn good job pre­par­ing me for that.”

Houston pitch­ers and catch­ers re­port to the Astros’ spring train­ing fa­cil­ity in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Feb. 13.


Houston Astros’ pitcher and World Se­ries champ Collin McHugh an­swers ques­tions dur­ing his visit to his alma mater Berry Col­lege on Tues­day.

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