Shaler Area grad Gumto carries load for Cal (Pa.) bullpen
Patrick Gumto wasn’t consistently sharp with his curveball command entering his freshman year at Cal (Pa.).
Getting Division II batters out with off-speed pitches required the Shaler Area graduate to dig in his memory. Gumto, with the guidance of Vulcans pitching coach Joey Noro, worked on improving his slider, a pitch he last threw in middle school.
With the slider in tow, Gumto became a workhorse in Cal’s bullpen, making a team-high 20 appearances and finishing with a 4-1 record.
“That developed because my curveball wasn’t as consistent as it could be,” Gumto said. “I needed a pitch I could throw for a strike. When I go with a slider, I could throw it consistently and it became one of my best pitches, if not my best pitch.”
After a few days, Gumto was showing a high level of comfort with the pitch. What helped, according to Noro, was the slider appeared to come more naturally than the curveball.
“He settled in when he started to control that breaking ball,” Noro said. “One day we were talking in the outfield and started toying with a slider grip. He got it in two days. He used it in a midweek game, and it clicked with him. With his arm slot, the slider was the grip that worked best with him.”
Gumto’s strong performance came during a ground-breaking season for the Vulcans. Cal set school records for victories overall and in conference, finishing 37-15 and 19-9. The Vulcans just missed an NCAA regional bid.
Being a bullpen staple was a new experience for Gumto.
Until college, Gumto worked almost exclusively as a starter.
“The biggest difference was I needed to throw strikes and do my job as a reliever,” Gumto said. “You can come into any situation. In one of my last appearances, I came in with the bases loaded and no one out against Slippery Rock. That was something I never had to deal with before.”
Gumto was able to get consistent swings and misses. In 262⁄3 innings, Gumto recorded 36 strikeouts. He only conceded six extra-base hits — a home run and five doubles.
Noro was confident in whatever situation Gumto had to handle.
“That was one of the things we weren’t worried about,” Noro said. “He had pitched against high competition before. Compete level wasn’t going to be an issue for him. He got a lot of chances because of the makeup we knew he had.”
Gumto wants to continue displaying his mettle.
Should the program follow suit, Cal might have a chance to challenge for one of those hard-to-land regional playoff spots.
“Next year, we will come in with a chip on our shoulders,” Gumto said. “Next year, we are coming in to prove we are the best team in the PSAC.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.