He risked everything to save his mom. A college pitcher's most important save

Paula Carney embraces her son Joey in his hospital room before they each head off to surgery.

He knew the importance of singular focus in these situations, to block out emotion and not let his mind wander.

Just this once, he allowed it.

One out from victory in his baseball team’s final game of the season, Joey Carney took a walk behind the pitcher’s mound.

His thoughts drifted to her, then to his father, and he quickly scanned the crowd to find the man who never gave up on him as a ballplayer even when it seemed as if everyone else had.

Even with another season of eligibility remaining, Carney knew his career could be ending.

“This,” he told himself, “could be the last batter I ever face.”

Earlier in the season, before he learned how to better control the roiling of nerves and adrenaline when he entered a game, Carney might have faltered.

Now, he confidently strode up to the rubber. He nodded at the sign from the catcher, twisted his taut 6-foot-2 frame and delivered a perfectly placed cutter that induced an easy grounder to the second baseman.

He had his fifth save of the season.

Next: the most important save of his life. Continue reading
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