Ben Sieracki felt the chills a little after 1 p.m. on Thursday.
The Rocky Mount High senior had just signed his national letter of intent to play baseball next year at Division I Elon University, and it began to set in that Sieracki had checked off an important.
“This is something I wanted to do ever since I was five and playing T-ball,” Sieracki said of singing to play baseball in college. “I have the chills thinking about it.”
Sieracki weighed several offers before deciding on the Phoenix, who will give him an opportunity to play right away. The right-handed Sieracki has pitched for the Gryphons varsity squad since his freshman year.
He had six wins and had two complete games during his freshman season where he was the No. 2 on the staff behind future N.C. State left-hander David Harrison. As a sophomore, Sieracki didn’t pitch much due to an injury, but played in 22 games and had 17 hits and 11 RBI.
Sieracki returned to the mound last season and shined as part of a talented staff that allowed a mere 31 earned runs in 25 games.
Sieracki had a 1.35 ERA and had three complete games, including two shutouts. He also had a save, and led the Gryphons in strikeouts with a whopping 70 punch outs in 57 innings.
He still looks to improve and will use his senior season to do just that. When looking toward college, Sieracki said that he wants to strengthen his legs in order to gain velocity on his pitches.
He also hopes to add a reliable changeup to his pitch arsenal, something he plans to work on this upcoming high school season. At the moment, Sieracki is comfortable throwing a slider in any count, and can command the pitch as an out pitch with two strikes.
“My changeup, I need to develop it more so it can be an effective pitch for me,” Sieracki said. “I can throw a slider in a 0-0 count or when I’m behind, and I want to work that changeup in so I can throw it at any point in the count.”
He said that facing varsity competition throughout high school helped to prepare him for the college recruitment process, which involved many of his starts being watched by evaluators.
“There was so much pressure going into my junior year and playing club baseball. There were (college) coaches at every game,” Sieracki said. “After I committed, I was able to take a step back a little bit. And having coach (Pat) Smith as a coach when I was up freshman year really taught me some good things and got I a basis for varsity baseball. Competing with seniors as a freshman, I learned quickly that couldn't take a pitch off or else it would get hit. That helped me focus and concentrate more.”
Sieracki has always been on competitive teams, and Elon’s recent success was intriguing. The Phoenix won the Colonial Athletic Association and have been backed by a strong pitching staff.
Pitching coach Sean McGrath, who helped lure Sieracki to Elon, was hired by the Seattle Mariners in the offseason. At Elon, McGrath developed talent that caught the eyes of big league clubs.
Elon pitcher George Kirby was drafted 20th overall in the recent amateur draft, while fellow pitchers Kyle Brnovich and Ty Adock were also drafted.
“They won conference last year so being able to compete every year was big for me,” Sieracki said. “Their pitching coach just left to go to the major leagues, and they produced a first rounder, too. I like that they do a good job developing their pitchers.”