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Hastings teen wins European pitching award

Hastings teen Andrew Tri pitches during a game in the Mondial Hit tournament, held in Italy Aug. 6-11. Submitted photo

Hastings teen Andrew Tri is earning some international recognition. A sophomore at St. Thomas Academy, Tri joined the USSSA National 15U baseball team to compete against top youths from around the world in the 2013 Mondial Hit tournament, held in Nettuno, Italy, about 40 miles south of Rome.

Tri, just 15 years old, already has an extensive baseball history. He has trained at Next Level Baseball since he was 11 years old, learning under Jason Verdugo, former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants and quarterback for Arizona State University, and Jim Egan, a draftee of the Atlanta Braves and former University of Minnesota player. He was a batboy for the St. Paul Saints, trained in Chicago and Houston, Tex., with Brent Strom and Flint Wallace. Since he turned 12, Tri has played on the Blizzard 13U, 14U and 15-F-elite teams; the USSSA AAA Muskies; Mahtomedi AAA Zephyrs; and the Minnesota Starz 16U teams.

Tri was chosen to play in the USSA All American Games in 2011, 2012 and 2013. This year, he also was invited to play on the USSSA National team in Italy, and naturally decided to join that team this year. Tryouts for the National team were last fall, held in Florida.

“Scouts saw me in other tournaments that I’d played in nationally,” Tri said.

Tri is a pitcher and also plays first base.

The Mondial Hit tournament was held Aug. 6-11 in Italy. Tri’s team, one of two U.S. teams in the bracket, took second place overall. The winning team was Italian.

“It went really well,” Tri said. “Our team went undefeated until the championship game.”

Tri claimed another honor in Italy. Out of the entire group of 15U players at the tournament, he was given the Best Pitcher award, as voted by the teams’ coaches. Tri said he figures he earned the award mostly because of his pitching stats. He said he didn’t allow many runs (he had an ERA of just 1.45) and struck out a lot of the other teams’ players.

Since playing in Italy, Tri got to join the MN Titans, an 18U team, for the Labor Day ScoutStop tournament in Minnesota. His team played the Cincinnati Reds Scout team, which went on to win the tournament, and although the Titans couldn’t pull out a win, they held the Reds to 2 points, “which was by far the best in the whole tournament,” Tri said.

Tri pitched all seven innings.

It’s an impressive run for Tri, especially considering that just a few weeks earlier, toward the end of June, he was hospitalized for six days, a victim of severe food poisoning that caused him to lose more than 12 pounds and put his kidneys at risk of failure.

Just prior to the incident, Tri threw his fastest fastball to date, reaching 87 miles per hour.

Looking ahead

With a few more years left of high school, Tri is focusing on continuing his training. This season he’s the quarterback for the St. Thomas Academy football team, playing on both the 10th grade and junior varsity team. He is also dressing for the varsity team to get ready for next year, since the varsity team currently does not have a junior quarterback.

He has plans already to pitch for a Baltimore Orioles scout team in October in Las Vegas, and Tri said he’ll be doing more baseball training this winter at Hamline University with Verdugo and Egan, his two main coaches. He plans on going back to Texas as well for more training time with Ron Wohlforth. Beyond that, he aims to play baseball with a Division I school after he graduates from St. Thomas Academy in 2016.