Tyler Badamo was asked last week how he dealt with the pressure that accompanied his streak of 72 2/3 straight innings without allowing an earned run, which ended in his final regular-season start last Friday.
Before he offered a response, the Dowling righthander laughed for a second.
The brief chuckle is very telling. The streak, while extraordinary, was not something that seemed to easily distract Badamo.
Why? Just consider what Badamo, a senior, already has experienced in life.
His father, Matthew, died March 15, 2010. That was when Badamo was a senior at Mount Sinai. A few months later, after his high school graduation, he learned he was going to be a father himself. His girlfriend, Ashley, gave birth to daughter Brooke on April 21, 2011.
"I had to grow up real quick," Badamo said. "If someone has gone through what I've gone through, I'd like to sit and talk to him."
At this point, one would think Badamo would be the one offering advice in such a conversation. Advice on how to follow your passion, even when life is hard. Advice on how to manage time. Advice on how to become even better at doing what you love after someone you love has been taken away.
"Baseball is my escape," Badamo said. "It gives me the chance to just be myself and get away from everything that I need to get away from. I look at it as, OK, I have three hours on the field and then I have to do all this stuff, like I have to do homework and feed the baby."
While juggling it all, Badamo finished the regular season 7-3 with a 0.89 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 902/3 innings. He broke Dowling's single-season strikeout record on April 25 and has fanned 111 batters. He's third in the nation among Division II players in ERA and strikeouts.
Dowling coach Tom Caputo attributed a lot of Badamo's success this season to a newly discovered slider with a lethal break. Badamo, who said he benefitted from not throwing during the offseason, also utilizes a curveball and changeup. His fastball hits 94 mph.
Dowling (29-11, 17-3 East Coast Conference) earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and will host fourth-seeded Bridgeport at noon Thursday. Behind Badamo, who will start Thursday, and a strong rotation, the Golden Lions are looking to capture their third conference championship in four years.
No matter how Dowling fares in the playoffs, there aren't many who would be surprised if Badamo's baseball career extends beyond college.
Scouts often ask Caputo about Badamo's mental makeup, considering what has occurred.
"My answer to that always is he lost his father and had a baby all in the same year, so how would you handle that?" Caputo said. "The fact he's overcome it and has been as successful as he is, it's remarkable."