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Hartford’s Allard getting Cape Cod League opportunity

  • Jordy Allard delivers for the Upper Valley Nighthawks on June 13, 2021, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Jordy Allard pitches for the Upper Valley Nighthawks on June 13, 2021, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

  • Jordy Allard warms up in the outfield on July 1, 2022, at Wareham High School in Wareham, Mass. Allard, a Hartford High graduate, is pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Tris Wykes

  • Jordy Allard warms up in the outfield on July 1, 2022, at Wareham High School in Wareham, Mass. Allard, a Hartford High graduate, is pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

  • Jordy Allard warms up in the visitors bullpen on July 1, 2022, at Wareham High in Wareham, Mass. Allard, a Hartford High graduate, is pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Tris Wykes

  • Jordy Allard watches his team's game on July 1, 2022, at Wareham High School in Wareham, Mass. Allard, a Hartford High graduate, is pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

  • Jordy Allard Heratch Ekmekjian—Northeastern sports information

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/9/2022 9:35:46 PM
Modified: 7/11/2022 9:00:51 PM

Jordy Allard is experiencing the chance of a baseball lifetime. He won’t take it for granted.

The Bridgewater resident and 2017 Hartford High graduate, who recently began playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League, has a routine designed to keep him both mindful and focused before he throws his first pitch. He draws the initials of his late grandfather, Hank Smith, on the back of the mound, then takes a moment to drink deeply of the moment.

“I take in the sky and the setting and try to really understand where I am and how long it’s taken to get here,” said the 23-year old. “It’s been an insane journey. Nobody knew if I’d get to the places I’ve gone, so I just have some fun and play.”

The approach has worked beautifully during two weeks thus far. The righthander has allowed one hit and no runs during seven relief appearances totaling 7⅔ innings. He’s struck out eight batters, walked two and gone 2-0 with one save. This against the best college players in America and before groups of Major League Baseball scouts.

“This is something he’s worked really hard for, and for a long time,” said former White River Junction American Legion teammate and Upper Valley Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid, who had his friend on the roster last summer. “He works fast, and he’s a bulldog on the mound.”

That Allard would even get a chance in the wooden-bat CCBL, considered to be the country’s best amateur circuit, was no sure thing as his spring campaign at Boston’s Division I Northeastern University wound down.

The Cape’s roster spots are coveted but almost never set in stone. Players suffer injuries or their college teams advance deep into the playoffs or sign to play professionally.

The best prospects have spots held for them, their temporary replacements often signing 10-day contracts before moving on. Former Dartmouth College pitcher Kyle Hendricks went that route in 2010 and was one of the few to turn such a chance into long-term opportunity. He’s now a Chicago Cubs veteran with a World Series title to his name.

Allard earned a tryout contract with the CCBL’s Falmouth Commodores in 2020, but the league’s season — along with that of the Nighthawks’ New England Collegiate Baseball League — was canceled because of COVID-19. He returned to Babson (Mass.) College, which he had helped to the 2019 NCAA Division III College World Series, and went 7-0 with a 0.91 ERA during 49⅔ innings. He struck out 55 opponents and walked two.

At Northeastern this spring, Allard served stints as a starter, both long and short reliever and as the Huskies’ closer. He finished 4-3 with a 2.16 ERA, two saves, 58 strikeouts and nine walks, earning first team All-New England honors. Despite those statistics, there was no guarantee of playing on Cape Cod, and Allard was on the verge of signing for a fourth Nighthawks season before his gamble to hold out for the higher league paid off.

With two weeks remaining in Northeastern’s season, coach Mike Glavine asked Allard if he wanted to join Hyannis on June 25 with a contract for the rest of the summer season. It was a perfect situation, giving Allard some rest while allowing him to return to his family’s Westwards Farm residence for the first time since early January.

It’s hard to explain the Cape League’s exact excellence to a casual fan, but the players are bigger, stronger, faster and there are markedly fewer mistakes. The NECBL is considered the next level down in summer baseball, but its games sometimes appear scrambly and undisciplined by comparison.

Still, the Cape competitors play on gussied-up high school fields and ride school buses to games. Allard passes time by reading, something he admits he would never have done as a younger player. He’s currently engrossed in Steven Kolter’s Art of the Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer, carrying the hard copy in the backpack he lugs to the bullpen before games.

Allard said he’s read roughly 40 books during the last two years. Kolter’s tome is about achieving what’s known as the “flow state,” in which a person is so focused on their task that sounds, smells, movement, etc., all but cease to exist. Allard said he achieved it during an outing last week.

“I couldn’t tell you what else was going on in the ballpark, and I couldn’t see or hear anything but me and my catcher,” he said. “I give myself positive self-talk on the mound and I’m quiet and calm, breathing and taking it one pitch at a time. If you think about what’s at stake, the flow state is gone.

“I got the final out and realized again that we were at a baseball field with other people.”

To Allard, the indication that he’s facing better talent is that Cape League batters foul off potential third strikes they don’t think they can turn into a hit.

“You really have to make a nasty pitch to strike them out,” he said. “But I don’t like to think about what the hitter’s doing. I’m going to focus on making my pitch and having them be uncomfortable.”

Allard said he usually tops out at 92 mph while remaining between 88 and 91. He was mainly a fastball chucker with a little curveball action in high school and early in college, when he played his freshman season at Division II Southern New Hampshire and also enjoyed a College World Series berth with the Penmen.

In more recent years, however, Allard, 5-feet-9 and 190 pounds, has moved his complimentary pitch to one using a split-finger grip that makes it act more like a changeup, tumbling down and away on his throwing-arm side. He’s hoping to add a bit more velocity, and his natural growth and his four-days-a-week strength and conditioning dedication is evident in added thickness, especially through the chest and shoulders.

Allard trusts his fastball and hopes to soon debut a slider in games.

“I’m going to throw strikes and make you put the ball in play,” he said. “The slider’s good, but it’s not in the strike zone as often as I’d like.”

Surely, even the kid long nicknamed “Jordy Baseball” gets nervous when facing batters from the likes of Louisiana State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Louisville and UConn? Not to a significant degree. Allard has realized that baseball’s mental side is often more important than its physical manifestation.

“What’s the pressure?” Allard asked rhetorically. “This is where I’ve wanted to be my entire life, since I first heard about the Cape League. I’m from Vermont, so I’m not even supposed to be here.

“I remind myself that anxiousness means that the game means something to you.”

Allard would like to play baseball as long as he can. He has a sixth and final season of NCAA eligibility remaining and will presumably spend that with Northeastern if he doesn’t sign professionally after this summer.

Whether the next step is a free-agent contract with a MLB club or a slot in an independent league, he’s excited for the chance and grateful to those who helped him earn it.

“So many people in the Upper Valley have helped me,” Allard said, ticking off his family members, Hartford High mentors and even the town’s Parks and Recreation department.

“I’ve worked hard and done the right things, but without them, I’m not here right now.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.


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