Ordinarily, the ace of a sub-.500 high school pitching staff wouldn’t warrant much more than an “atta boy,” but you can be sure Andrew Austen is the extraordinary exception.
Born with no right arm beyond the first few inches after his elbow, the Radnor (Pa.) senior volunteered for pitching duties after starter Charlie Connolly suffered an injury and their baseball team began the season 0-5, according to a Montgomery Media feature.
“If you need me out there,” Austen told Radnor coach Mark Jordan, “I’m ready.”
Despite having not pitched since his sophomore season, Austen finished the regular season 4-0 with a 1.22 ERA, as Radnor rebounded to win nine of their final 14 games — and six of their last eight — to qualify for Tuesday’s Class AAA district tournament opener against Chichester, according to Montgomery Media’s Matthew De George.
Austen’s performance obviously brings to mind Jim Abbott, who played 12 Major League Baseball seasons and threw a no-hitter as a member of the New York Yankees in 1993.
Although Abbott’s career had long been over before Austen’s ever began, the teen is more than familiar with the man who thrice ranked in the American League’s top 10 for ERA with the use of only one arm. Austen met Abbott at a book signing as a young boy, and he drew his inspiration from the former MLB pitcher, even if his delivery requires him to pin his glove under his arm rather than slip it onto his forearm, per Montgomery Media.
“I just kind of taught myself,” Austen told De George. “You realize, not just in baseball but in everything else, you’ve got to teach yourself how to do things. So just doing it over and over again, I found what worked and didn’t work, and just tried to perfect it.”
In addition to pitching, Austen hit .333 with help from a carbon-fiber device that clips from his arm to the bat, according to the feature. He also patrolled the outfield, as he’s done for three varsity seasons. Oh, and Austen has also played soccer, golf and basketball while growing up in Radnor. Not bad for an ordinary kid from Pennsylvania.