Although the Darien High School baseball team fell short of its offseason goal to make the FCIAC tournament, senior starting pitcher Andrew Hurn played a big role in ensuring that the team would fulfill its other offseason goal of qualifying for the State tournament.

"He was the leader of our pitching staff. We had a fairly young pitching staff that was inexperienced and we needed him to step up," Darien coach Mike Scott said. "He certainly led the way as far as on the mound went. He would always keep us in ballgames and he had some terrific outings."

While the 8-12 Blue Wave certainly experienced their fair share of ups and downs during the 2011 season, Hurn and company closed out the regular season with four consecutive wins to make it into the State tournament as the No. 30 seed to take on No. 35 Platt.

Pitching with a cool demeanor in the pressure packed win-or-go-home playoff game, Hurn methodically shut down the Platt lineup, tossing seven and a third innings of one-run, five-hit ball while striking out six, walking one and hitting a batter. With the game still scoreless in the eighth inning, Hurn surrendered his lone run of the day as Darien was defeated 1-0.

"That was tough. You can't help but think about how close you got," Hurn said. "But it was a good feeling that we hung in there for that long and gave it our best."

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One of Hurn's most impressive pitching outings of the spring came in the form of a road game against crosstown rival New Canaan at Mead Park on April 11. Hurn outdueled New Canaan ace Alex Farina by throwing a complete game to give his team a crucial 2-1 victory on six hits while striking out seven and not walking a batter.

With his high school days behind him, Hurn will continue his baseball career at Division III Amherst College in Massachusetts.

For Hurn, the decision to attend Amherst in the fall simply made sense, both from an academic and an athletic perspective.

"I looked around and thought that Amherst had the best balance of both strong athletics and strong academics," Hurn said. "That was the large criteria I had when looking at colleges."

With a pitching repertoire that includes a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball and changeup, it was not uncommon for Hurn to dominate opposing lineups in high school, but player and coach alike both suspect that there will be somewhat of a learning curve at the college level. However, Hurn sounded confident that he would be up to the task of handling the heightened competition, as well as making the adjustment to being a freshman all over again.

"I'm expecting it be some of the toughest batting I've faced. The NESCAC is well-renowned for its level of competitiveness," Hurn said. "I can expect it to be some of the toughest I've seen, but nothing I can't handle with the right preparation.

"I still think he's got great potential, great upside," Scott said. "It's a different level of completion and he will have to raise his game up, and he's definitely capable of doing that."

Scott indicated that players and coaches each play a role in determining team captains on a yearly basis. When it came time to pick captains for the 2011 season, Scott had no qualms about giving the title to Hurn, along with fellow senior Dan Pidgeon.

"It's a combination. All coaches and players get a vote at the end of a season, and we felt he was very deserving," Scott said. "He was one of the hardest workers in the offseason, and probably the most improved player in his class from freshman to senior year."

Hurn kept his baseball skills sharp by playing on the New Canaan/Darien senior legion team over the summer. Unlike high school and college, the legion league required palyers to use wood bats.

"I personally like wood bats. It definitely gives pitchers an edge," Hurn said. "I think the playing field gets leveled out with wood bats, but at the same time, knowing I'll go back to metal bats, I'll have to prepare for that."

Currently between baseball seasons, Hurn is spending some of his summer assisting Scott in coaching some youth players at day camps in Darien.

"I saw the seniors from last year doing these camps over the summer, so I talked to Coach Scott to see what it was all about and see if I'd be interested," Hurn said. "I have a sister who's in little league so I feel like I still have a connection to these kids. It's kind of my way of giving back to the little kids so they can hopefully keep playing this game."

Scott and the rest of the Darien coaching staff will be charged with the task of attempting to replace Hurn's productivity as the leader of the Blue Wave pitching staff.

"Unfortunately, you only have these kids for four years and you can't renew contracts," Scott said. "We'll try to rebuild the staff and reload, but Hurn is certainly one of the top pitchers I've coached."