Pullo finds his place on the Tonawanda varsity
Pullo had misread a sign from his coach during an April 9 game against Kenmore West, but when the dust settled Pullo had beaten the throw to second and Tonawanda was still in business.
Safe to say that Nick Pullo didn't just find the base, he's found his place on varsity.
A junior in his first season of varsity with the Tonawanda Warriors, Pullo has already made his mark on this young season with his bat and his arm as the Warriors have opened with three consecutive wins.
Pullo, who is 6 for 10 with four runs scored, went 3 for 4 with two runs scored to pace the 8-4 win over the Blue Devils on April 9.
Four days earlier, Pullo picked up the win in his first career varsity start as the Warriors posted 4-3 victory over ECIC IV rival JFK. A team that beat the Warriors twice last season.
"I wanted to (come) in and prove myself in the JFK game," Pullo said.
Not a bad start for a kid who, quite frankly, didn't exactly know what his place on the team would be at the start of the new campaign. Heck, even coach John Frank wasn't exactly sure how he was going to utilize Pullo this year.
But Pullo's work ethic and drive to be his best caught Frank's eye.
"His work ethic is paying off for him right now," Frank said."I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to get (from him) to be honest with you, but he's really surprising. Not just on the mound...he hits the ball,too."
A solid student in the class room, Pullo sports a good baseball I.Q. and an aggressive style on the base paths that helps Tonawanda generate runs.
Solid in his first start, Pullo struck out eight while yielding three walks and five hits against JFK.
But it was the way he responded to early adversity that showed just what Nick Pullo is made of. Pullo left a hanging curve ball over the plate that Bears All-WNY selection Ben Zaccagnino crushed for a two-run home run that gave JFK the 2-0 in the first inning.
But to his credit, Pullo showed great mental toughness by shaking it off and going right back to fearlessly pounding the zone.
"For him to be able to shut that out in his first career varsity start and move forward just shows what he's made of," coach Frank said.
Pullo said knowing that he had a strong defense backing him up was a huge part of his ability to stay confident as he pushed forward after that rough patch.
"Oh man, it's gonna be one of those kinds of days for me on the mound today," Pullo said with a smile as he recalled his reaction to the home run."The guys played good defense and I just settled down on the mound. Coach Frank just told me get the ball to the plate and let the defense make plays."
JFK loaded the bags in the sixth so coach Frank, feeling his young pitcher had already given him a great start, brought in Jared Zellner who closed out the win.
Pullo's efforts not only helped the Warriors win a key league game, with the graduation of Shane Foster and David Battel not available to pitch this year, Pullo now gives Tonawanda some additional stability and another viable option on the mound.
One of the aces on the JV staff, Nick Pullo knows life on varsity will be a lot more challenging.
"I left that hanging curve ball on the one deep hit. Sometimes on JV you can get away with that. Not on varsity though," Pullo said with a grin.
Better than being a star, Nick Pullo has slid in as a piece of the puzzle that is helping the overall team dynamic work.
No coach, or team, could ask for anything more from a rookie.