There are times, typically late at night, when Chartiers-Houston senior Dylan Pounds will be stewing over that day’s baseball game, desperately in need of some sort of relaxer.
But instead of playing Xbox or venting his frustrations on Twitter, Pounds will grab a rod and tackle box and head to Canonsburg Lake for some night fishing.
“It’s relaxing,” Pounds said. “It’s nice and peaceful out there, so you’re not as angry.”
While Pounds is a three-sport athlete at Chartiers-Houston, a key contributor for the golf, basketball and baseball teams, his best work may very well be done in his spare time.
And in sports that are usually more popular with senior citizens than seniors in high school.
Besides fishing, where Pounds once competed in the Junior Bassmaster Classic and won a $1,000 scholarship, he’s also a successful bowler with a high-game of 289.
“I’ve seen him play basketball a little bit,” Bucs baseball coach Adam Petras said. “I haven’t seen him fish or bowl. But with his talent on the baseball field, it’s kind of hard to imagine he’d be better at those sports than he is at baseball.”
Sure, bowling and fishing are enjoyable. Relaxing even. But he’s a baseball player more than a golfer, a basketball player or … a retiree; the 5-11 right-handed pitcher mixes a mid-to-low-80s fastball, curveball and changeup, plus pitches all of them.
Pounds is already 3-1 with 25 strikeouts and five walks in 20 innings this season, allowing just nine earned runs for an earned-run average of 4.05. Also entering Monday’s games, Pounds was hitting .368 (seven for 19) with a double, a triple, four RBI, six runs scored, three walks and four steals.
This after going 6-1 with a 1.84 earned-run average and 46 strikeouts in 44 innings last season.
Not bad for someone who wasn’t even interested in sports as a kid.
“When I was younger, I had no intention of playing sports,” said Pounds, who will play college baseball next year at either Mercyhurst or West Liberty. “But my dad made me go out for baseball. Ever since that, I liked it and got good at it. All of a sudden, I got really competitive.”
‘He has plenty of talent’
On the basketball court, Pounds averaged 10.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He shot 41 percent from three-point range and was the Bucs’ best defensive player.
But where Pounds truly excels at limiting opposing players’ opportunities is on the pitching rubber. There’s the heater. Then a curveball Petras calls “disgusting.” And a changeup with true fastball action and speed differential of more than 10 miles an hour.
“The command is there,” said Petras, who allows Pounds to shake his pitch calls, a luxury he doesn’t give his other pitchers. “The velocity just keeps getting better every year. More often than not, it’s his desire to be better than the batters. He feeds off of it.
“He has plenty of talent, but his competitive nature sets him apart from many other players.”
Maybe that’s what professional angler Ben Mastubu saw in Pounds.
At the Bassmaster Classic, which Pounds did when he was 11, all of the younger fishermen were paired with pros, Pounds was with Mastubu. The two got to talking on Lake Onondaga in Syracuse, N.Y. Pounds said he lived near Erie, which happens to be Mastubu’s favorite fishing spot.
Mastubu said they should go the next time he’s around. Pounds thought he was kidding.
Mastubu was not.
“About a week later, he called me up and said he was heading to Erie,” said Pounds, who also plays first base and hit .436 with 17 RBI and 18 steals last season. “My parents took me up. My brother went, and we fished with him for the whole day.”
Addicted to competition
Great story, sure.
But Petras has another one – really two stories – that provides a picture-perfect glimpse into who Pounds is: Every day, Pounds will remind Petras, a 29-year-old ex-ballplayer himself, that he can strike him out. Petras will disagree. Pounds will offer to throw. Petras will come up with a reason for it not to happen.
“He always says we’re going to do it, then it’s always too late,” Pounds explained. “Or I’m pitching and he doesn’t want me to make my arm sore.”
Petras, who throws batting practice and insists that Pounds has made a game out of trying to sneak a come backer past the L-screen, doesn’t deny that Pounds could probably sit him down.
“But I’m not going to give him the satisfaction,” he said.
Too bad others haven’t had that luxury.