Eddie Emerson’s journey to the University of Maine and Division I baseball was rated ‘PG,’ for postgraduate.

Not that there was anything deficient about his run at Lewiston High School, where Emerson was the left-handed ace on the baseball diamond, not to mention an outstanding football quarterback and hockey defenseman.

To get where he wanted to go, however, Emerson knew he needed to hit the road for a year. He had to specialize. He had to develop his craft. He had to grow, physically and mentally.

“I had a velocity jump to the middle and upper 80s (miles per hour). I definitely worked on my mechanics,” Emerson said. “And the big thing I think is that I’m 15 pounds heavier than I was in high school.”

The late bloomer is making an early impact in his rookie season at Maine.

Emerson registered the first win of his career this past Wednesday night, working two perfect innings in an extra-inning win over Lehigh, 11-6, in Winter Haven, Fla. The verdict snapped a four-game losing streak for the Black Bears, who were 5-12 through Friday.


It was the second scoreless appearance by the 6-foot-3, 190-pound southpaw.

“He doesn’t pitch like a freshman,” Maine coach Steve Trimper said. “He pitches like he’s been doing this for a while.”

After graduating from Lewiston in 2014, Emerson elected to forgo the American Legion season and accepted a spot on a select team out of Worcester, Mass.

His first extended conversation with Trimper took place at a tournament that summer in Manchester, N.H. Not that the former Blue Devil was a complete unknown to the coach.

“A lot of our success has come from the Maine kids,” Trimper said. “Not to stereotype too much, but Maine kids are just tough. Eddie is from the same mold. The ceiling is high.”

Emerson took that potential to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.


Although its roots are as a tennis factory founded by Nick Bollettieri in the 1970s, the school now houses 12,000 athletes from 80 countries in nine major sports. The price tag for its baseball prep program is more than $60,000 per year.

“It was all kids in the same boat, all 2014 graduates who wanted to improve their chances of playing in college,” Emerson said. “We played a lot of junior colleges. It was similar to the level of play we’re seeing now.”

In addition to the extra oomph on his fastball, Emerson’s exceptional curve evolved into something more closely resembling a slider or cutter.

Emerson also perfected a change-up, something he said wasn’t a significant part of his repertoire in high school.

“He’s a three-pitch guy, and most guys as a freshman you don’t see that all the time,” Trimper said. “He is cool as a cucumber out there. He has a lot of confidence.”

Freshman initiation also includes growing accustomed to a reduced, but important, situational role.


Like all pitchers at the major college level, Emerson was a top-of-the-rotation guy in high school, often throwing 100 or more pitches on three and four days’ rest. His new challenge: Being mentally prepared in the late innings and taking the mound to face one or two batters at a time.

Including non-countable game situations, Emerson has appeared in only eight innings this spring for the Black Bears.

“That’s more than I expected. I know my role is to come out of the bullpen like I have been,” Emerson said. “It’s definitely different, but that’s why you have the older guys, to help you learn and develop through that.”

That could change in a hurry. Trimper noted that Justin Courtney of Bangor started the season in a similar role last spring as a true freshman, yet he ascended to No. 2 in the rotation by the meat of the America East conference schedule.

Emerson will return to Worcester this summer, where his coach expects him to see longer stints.

“We try to develop a pitching staff, and then once we get into the conference schedule we kind of settle things,” Trimper said. “We wanted to get Eddie’s feet wet early.”


Homegrown arms and bats are becoming the rule again at Maine.

Trimper said his philosophy is to recruit infielders from the Southeast, “where they’ve fielded 10,000 more groundballs” than players in New England. But Maine pitchers, in particular, bring a toughness that excites the coach.

“Every kid we have from Maine was a three-sport athlete in high school, and everybody on our team was the best player on his high school baseball team,” Trimper said. “Guys like Justin Courtney, Trevor DeLaite and Eddie Emerson were great high school hockey players. The same with Scott Heath, who just graduated. We need to get athletic kids and develop them.”

Cody Laweryson of Bingham and Matt Pushard of Brewer will join Bangor’s DeLaite in next year’s freshman class.

It took Emerson a little longer to join them on the Black Bears’ radar screen, but the time and investment have proven well worth it, so far.

The PG already has a ‘W.’

“We haven’t played that well, but we have a good team from what I can see,” Emerson said. “Once we get into the conference, I think it can only go up from here.”

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