Pitching helmet, face mask help Ampietro find comfort in field

One moment Nic Ampietro was on the mound at Coca-Cola Park, pitching in Salisbury's biggest game of the 2012 season.

The next moment he was sprawled on the ground, knocked down by a line drive that drilled him in the right side of his head.

Ampietro spent a couple of days at the hospital after suffering his head injury and missed around a month of the American Legion season while recuperating. Back with the Falcons again this season, he has continued to excel while adjusting to playing with gear not often seen on the mound or in the infield.

Since the summer, Ampietro has worn a special helmet, the Easton FH1 fielder/pitcher helmet, that assistant coach Bob Sopko found online. The helmet, which Sopko said is no longer manufactured, has a flap on each side that comes down in front of the ear and near the temple. That is the spot where Ampietro got hit last season.

"When I came back in Legion, I started wearing the helmet right away," Ampietro said after going 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored in Wednesday's win over Northwestern. "I knew I didn't want to get hit there again."

Ampietro also began to wear a face mask while playing the infield over the summer. He ditched it at the start of the high school season, but he noticed that he was pulling up on grounders for fear of having a ball hit him in the face.

Ampietro went back to the face mask before last week's win over Southern Lehigh and has continued to wear it since.

"In the beginning of this season, I just wanted to see if I could cope without it, because it's not the easiest thing to wear," Ampietro said. "It gets really hot. It's not ideal. But I feel like I keep my head down more, and it makes me a better infielder."

While it's unusual to see a high school baseball player wearing a helmet while pitching or a face mask in the infield, Ampietro said he has received nothing but support because everyone knows of the injury he incurred last year. The extra equipment he wears certainly has done nothing to diminish his on-field production.

Ampietro leads Salisbury with a .514 batting average. He also is tied for the team lead with six doubles and 19 hits.

He has been just as good on the mound, going 4-0 with a 0.67 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 21 innings over fours starts. He has thrown shutouts in each of his last two starts, blanking Wilson last week and Pen Argyl on Monday.

With those kinds of numbers, Ampietro may start a trend in protective headgear.

"Everyone usually asks me, and I just tell them," he said. "I don't get flustered about it or anything. It's just like a security blanket. I'm more confident with it."

Whitehall weekend

Whitehall is hosting its first alumni baseball weekend May 11-12 at the Schadt Avenue and high school baseball fields.

The weekend will start with a 10 a.m. breakfast social on May 11 followed by the Whitehall-Pleasant Valley varsity game (11 a.m.), where returning alumni will be introduced. An alumni softball game at 2 p.m. will cap the day.

On May 12, the junior varsity and varsity teams will play a dawn-to-dusk scrimmage. Alumni are also welcome to play.

The scrimmage will serve as a fundraiser for Whitehall's annual spring-training trip to Myrtle Beach and facility improvements. Anyone interested in more information should contact Whitehall athletic director Bob Hartman at hartmanb@whitehallcoplay.org.

College corner

• Kutztown (No. 3) and East Stroudsburg (No. 7) are both ranked in this week's National College Baseball Writers Association Atlantic Region poll. Kutztown headed into Thursday's game at Wilmington with a 24-8 record. ESU is 22-10 and has won 10 of its last 12 games heading into Friday's doubleheader against Bloomsburg.

mc-nic-ampietro-pitching-helmet-facemask-20130418
 
Advertisement

PHOTO GALLERIES

TOP VIDEO

CONNECT WITH US


2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus
  • RSS Feeds
  • Mobile Alerts and Apps