Gators pitcher follows family to the field

SF State reliever Matthew Cummins pitches against Fresno Pacific Feb. 24 at Maloney field.

Just one year after being placed in the first-team All-NorCal selection at San Jose City College, junior pitcher Matthew Cummins packed his bags and headed up the US-101 freeway to SF State where he would begin a new chapter in his baseball career.

Knowing that his uncle was leading the team at the swamp at SF State, Cummins made up his mind to transfer to SF State as soon as he was eligible. It wasn’t a difficult decision.

“When Coach Cummins got the job here at SF State, I knew I wanted to come here,” Cummins said. “It isn’t everyday you get to play for your dad in high school and your uncle in college.”

Coach Mike Cummins, Matthew’s uncle, is part of a long line of baseball players in the Cummins family. He began coaching the team last year and led SF State to 22 wins the previous year, the team’s most victorious season in four years.

“Matt’s a fierce competitor,” said Gators head coach Mike Cummins. “He’s a guy who we want to have the ball at the end of the game because he competes and gets the job done.”

At Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Matthew also played for his father Mark, who played in the minor leagues and continues to maintain his position as head coach. In high school, Matthew Cummins was a two-time Blossom Valley Athletic League player of the year and was also selected to participate in the 2007 Bay Area World Series.

Cummins is one of 17 transfers who joined the Gator’s baseball team this season. On the field, he has been a major contributor to the team this season, leading the team with a 3.06 earned run average and four saves.

“Matt’s a big part of the team,” said SF State outfielder Ivan Otsuka. “He brings good energy and confidence while closing out a game.”

In addition to pitching, Cummins also assists in the infield, though enjoys the sense of empowerment that pitching provides.

“I like being in control,” Cummins said. “I like knowing that I’m better than the opponent. After I get the sign from the catcher, I focus and hit the spot. I like to think, aim small, miss small.”

As Cummins has high expectations for himself, he has the same expectations for his team, which has had a forgettable season thus far. The team is currently in last place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference, but Cummins believes the team has a chance to improve toward the end of the season.

Though the Gators won’t see postseason play, Cummins continues to embody the love for the game that was passed down from generation to generation. While Cummins gets encouragement from his teammates and coaches, he draws the most inspiration from his late grandfather, who encouraged him not to quit and stay positive through tough situations.

“My grandpa inspires me to play the game,” Cummins said. “Everyday when I am out on the baseball field I think of him and I know he is watching me and is very proud.”

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