His introduction to pitching came eight years ago as a young member of the Brockton Post 35 American Legion baseball team.
Joey Lucier was an infielder who was quite content with playing the same position game after game and getting a regular turn at the plate.
Then, during that summer with Post 35, Lucier found himself behind a pair of standout middle infielders named Adam Tempesta, a four-year starter at the University of Massachusetts, and Brandon Leonard, a key player at Wheaton College.
With little playing time for Lucier on the horizon, Post 35 coach Dave Seropian suggested that he do some pitching that season.
“I never really got into pitching before that,’’ said Lucier. “I always loved hitting. I loved playing the field. I loved playing every day.
“I was young. We just had Brandon Leonard and Adam Tempesta, and I just wanted to do something that would help the team, and Coach ‘Serop’ put me on the mound.’’
The move opened the door to a new world for Lucier, who has been pitching ever since.
After two years as a starting pitcher at Brockton High School before graduating in 2005, Lucier has been one of the top pitchers in the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference for Worcester State College.
Lucier, a senior, has earned All-MASCAC first-team honors the past two seasons and is off to a 4-1 start this spring while being tied for fourth in the conference in strikeouts.
“I couldn’t thank Coach ‘Serop’ enough,’’ said Lucier. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here pitching right now at all. If I wasn’t a pitcher, who knows? I can’t even tell you. I don’t even want to think about it. I’m a pitcher now.
“If I was a second baseman, who even knows if I’d be playing baseball right now? I was 15, 16 years old and a second baseman. Coach ‘Serop’ gave me the opportunity to pitch and taught me everything I know.’’
Lucier, who also credits former Brockton High coach Dave Fouracre with his early development, has made his mark at Worcester State.
He is closing in on second place on the school’s all-time list in strikeouts (currently with 163) and innings pitching (1841/3).
Lucier has been at his best against MASCAC opponents, going 8-2 with two saves, a 3.58 earned run average and 79 strikeouts in 93 innings in 18 conference appearances.
“He’s pitched in so many big games,’’ said Lancers coach Dr. Dirk Baker. “He’s just a competitor. He has poise. Every pitch is like it’s his last. He’s a battler and a leader and has great tenacity.’’
Lucier was 2-0 as a freshman in 2006, and after taking the next year off, was 3-3 with a 3.27 ERA and 67 strikeouts as a sophomore in 2008. That season is when Lucier was at his best, helping Worcester State make the NCAA Div. 3 tournament.
“I was confident every day I stepped on that mound,’’ he said. “I had one of my best pitching seasons of my life that year. I had great control. My fastball really jumped out of my hand that year. Every time I stopped on the mound, every pitch was working for me.’’
A year ago, Lucier overcame getting hit with a line drive in the opening game to post a 2-3 record with a 3.35 ERA.
In the bottom of the fourth inning at William Paterson University, Lucier was struck on the head by a liner off the bat of John Elia. The ball wound up in the outfield for a double and Lucier managed to finish the inning before being removed.
“Last year was a tough season for me,’’ said Lucier, who has 12 career wins. “After that happened, I was kind of shaky on the mound. My mechanics were way off. I was falling off the mound. I was just scared of getting the ball hit back at me again. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. By the end of the year, I started coming around a little better.’’
Lucier pitched for the Lowell All-Americans of the New England Collegiate Baseball League last summer, going 2-0 in nine appearances, including two starts.
After being chased by William Paterson in his first start this season (nine runs, six hits in 12/3 innings), Lucier has been solid, winning four decisions in a row. He has given up only 10 earned runs and 26 hits in 32 innings after the opening game and was recently picked as the MASCAC pitcher of the week.
“That was more of a motivation game,’’ said Lucier of losing to William Paterson. “You can’t take anything lightly. You’ve got to have your best stuff every day or you’re going to get hit around. Ever since that day, I’ve been more of a workhorse than I’ve ever been.”
“Pitching for Lowell last summer helped me tremendously. That helped me a lot getting my confidence back, learning from Div. 1 kids. They taught me a whole lot about mechanics and the mentality of pitching.’’