Sunday night's long-distance call from Miami was both surprising and uplifting for Brian Rolocut, Arundel's ace hurler.
It was Scott Hertz, baseball coach at Miami-Dade Community College. Hertz, whose team is ranked No. 4 nationally among junior colleges, called to offer a scholarship.
"He said they could use a guy like me, with great velocity and control -- especially on my fastball," said Rolocut, a 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander.
"He talked about what I did in Saturday's game against Broadneck and said he was coming down to see me this week."
If Rolocut has the stuff he's had throughout the year, he won't disappoint Hertz.
"When most high school coaches talk about their kids throwing fastballs, they're talking 79-80 mph," Arundel coach Bernie Walter said. "But Brian's been clocked at 85, so he's on a completely different level. He's an above-average, power pitcher with a hard slider."
In Saturday's 9-1 Class 4A Region IV victory over the Bruins, Rolocut whiffed 12 batters in his second one-hitter this year for Arundel (17-5), which seeks an unprecedented sixth state championship beginning with tonight's state semifinal at Joe Cannon Stadium.
Rolocut (1.43 ERA) entered the week as the metro area's best in two pitching categories -- record (11-0) and strikeouts-to-innings-pitched ratio (131 in 73 innings). He also tTC has an outside shot at the county and state mark for single-season strikeouts (161) set by Brooklyn Park's Dean Albany in 1981.
"A year ago, I was awful. I had no control, and I just walked too many batters," the 18-year-old senior said.
While playing last year behind All-County hurlers Jeff Beard (10-1, 0.80 ERA) and left-hander Zach Collins (8-1, 1.26 ERA), Rolocut went 1-0, pitching just five innings with as many strikeouts in a victory over Wicomico.
"I just rode the bench," Rolocut said. "And I had to live with it because I had a real problem with my control."
But Rolocut went to work on his mechanics with pitching coach John Hall Sr. while playing for Mayo in the summer American Legion League.
"I went to a couple of pitching camps and started lifting weights like every night," said Rolocut, who also ran indoor track this past winter to improve the stamina in his legs.
"I started to come around during the fall, especially my confidence. My attitude has changed a lot since last year."
Rolocut has transformed himself from a guy who couldn't throw strikes if you paid him, to a veteran who soon may get paid for throwing strikes.
"He's always had good stuff, he was just a little bit wild. But he came in throwing strikes from the first day of practice on Feb. 29," said Walter, who boasts a career 301-87 record over 19 seasons.
"I do expect him to get drafted [professionally] this June, but Miami-Dade gave him a great scholarship offer, so I don't know if he's going to take that or not."
During the week of April 27, Rolocut tied a state record for single-season no-hitters (two), blanking North County, 1-0, and Southern, 7-0. Only two other pitchers -- Arundel's Frank Parreira (1976) and Old Mill's Scott Wharton (1978) -- accomplished the feat.
"Right now, he's got three pitches -- a slider, a fastball and a change-curve. He can throw them all for strikes, and he's working on a fourth pitch," said Arundel catcher Curt Odar. "He can throw real hard. And when he's on, no one at the high school level can stop him."
Rolocut is hard to stop at the plate as well. With a .368 batting average, he is among the area's top 10 in three categories with 27 RBI and four each in triples and home runs. He also has two doubles.
And if Rolocut isn't knocking one out or striking someone out, he'll try throwing somebody out. He's put out 15 runners with 16 assists and just two errors so far.
"He has an excellent pickoff move, and he's a great defensive player," said Walter. "There are some colleges who think he can be a two-way player, but I think his future is as a pitcher."
"I never thought I'd be leading the team in home runs," said Rolocut. "But right now, pitching is my top priority."