Following a hot second half of his freshman season with the Brown University baseball team, Newton’s Jake Levine has continued his offensive surge with the Oneonta Outlaws of the New York Collegiate Baseball League.
Levine, who hit .265 for Brown after starting the season with a .137 average through 13 games, has switched from a metal to a wooden bat this summer. Despite the transition to a bat with a smaller sweet spot, he’s been making life miserable for opposing pitchers.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Levine, who bats from the left side but is a natural righty, was hitting a team-high .333 (45-for-135) and was also tops on the playoff-bound Outlaws with 28 runs, 11 stolen bases in 14 attempts, 7 triples, and 23 walks.
His on-base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.489) ranked in the league’s top 10, and he was 13th in batting average.
Levine went 2-for-7 with a double Tuesday in a doubleheader sweep of the Syracuse Salt Cats that clinched the regular-season title for the Outlaws, who were 25-15.
Hitting out of the first and second spots and splitting time at second base and outfield, the former Belmont Hill School star, whose parents went to high school near Syracuse, N.Y., had also chipped in with 22 RBIs and 7 doubles and was named to the league’s all-star team.
“He’s a big reason we’re fighting for first place,’’ said Oneonta manager Joe Hughes, a 1980 Baltimore Orioles draft pick and longtime Oneonta High School baseball coach and athletic director. “Jake has a great eye at the plate and he’s a tough out.’’
Levine, who played last summer with the Needham American Legion baseball team, and also played for several seasons with the New England Ruffnecks summer travel squad, captained Belmont Hill’s 2012Independent School League champions last year.
With Belmont Hill, he batted .469 his senior season, and went on to lead Brown in triples (2), walks (17), and on-base percentage (.404) this spring.
“I was pretty excited to get the opportunity with Oneonta,’’ he said. “The community has a great baseball tradition, our attendance leads the league, I’m staying with a great host family, and I’ve been able to visit with my grandmother and cousins when we play in Syracuse.’’
Levine and Brown head coach MarekDrabinski agreed that playing with the Outlaws would give him the opportunity to continue his transition to the outfield, work on his base running, and face talented Division 1 pitchers.
“Usually when a hitter goes from metal to wood their average drops significantly. If you hit .250 in a wood bat league that’s pretty good, but what Jake has done doesn’t surprise me, after the way he finished this season and from what he showed us last fall,’’ said Drabinski.
“Jake also used the wood bat with the Ruffnecks and really made an impression on the college recruiters when he hit a three-run homer at a tournament a couple of years ago.’’
Drabinski and Hughes connected through a mutual friend, SUNY-Oneonta associate athletic director Brian Jester, Drabinski’s minor league teammate with the Macon (Ga.) Braves in 1991.
“We’re glad to have him,’’ said Outlaws general manager Steve Pindar. “Jake’s a terrific young man who never stops hustling and plays the game the way you love to see it played.’’
Oneonta’s home park, Damaschke Field, dates back to 1906, and the city (population: 13,800), located in Southern Otsego County, had a long history of franchises in the Class A New York-Penn League, including a Red Sox affiliation in 1966.
It’s 330 feet down both foul lines, the power alleys are 380-390, and dead center is 400 feet away, so Levine has found the gaps for his extra base hits.
“It’s just a cool place to play. We wear an orange uniform and so a few people who come to our games think we’re a farm team of the Orioles, but of course we’re not,’’ said Levine, whose brother, Noah, is a rising junior and varsity baseball player at Belmont Hill.
“I’m the only player from Massachusetts on our team and it’s been a great experience meeting teammates from rural Georgia and sharing stories. I’m staying with Bill and Lori Erario, who have two young children, Brendan and Aly, and we’ve developed a close relationship.
“I know we had a tough season at Brown (7-33), but we were young, we had some key injuries, and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned here, improving as a player and making us a better team.’’
Here and there
The 2002 state Division 1 boys’ hockey team and five individuals will be inducted into the Waltham High School Athletic Hall of Fame, in a ceremony slated for Oct. 11 at the Hobbs Brook Office Park. The five individual inductees are C.J. Annunciata (Waltham High’s class of 2001, for lacrosse), Tracy Rautenberg (1999, field hockey), Dan Hart (2004, football), Joe DeStefano (1966, track), and Joe Tranchita (track coach). For tickets or more information, send an e-mail to email@example.com . . . . Newton South High School graduate Mark Perlman-Price was one of two announcers for the broadcast of the recent New England Collegiate Baseball League’s all-star game, which was held in Laconia, N.H. The honor was bestowed through a vote of the league’s general managers. Perlman-Price is in his third season doing play-by-play for the New Bedford Bay Sox. He is also a graduate of Indiana University. . . Boston University women’s basketball coach Kelly Greenberg has successfully recruited incoming freshman guard SarahHope, who starred at Medway High. Hope, a two-time Tri-Valley League MVP, holds the high school girls’ program record with 1,228 career points, and was a McDonald’s All-America nominee. “Sarah is a terrific shooter and she has a great overall feel for the game,” said BU’s associate head coach, Michael Leflar. “We were fortunate to keep one of our state’s best players close to home.’’