Kyle Barrett has been a red-haired, lefty-throwing presence on the mound for the Beyer High baseball team for four years.
At some point in the next couple of weeks, he'll throw his final pitch for the Patriots. And when he does, he'll close the book on a four-year varsity career that will cement him as one of the top pitchers for the high-profile program.
He'll take the mound for Beyer today, when it opens the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South playoff tournament at UOP's Klein Family Field against West of Tracy at 4 p.m.
When he takes the mound for his fifth playoff start, he'll bring 34 career wins and 304 career strikeouts with him. He's gone from a scared kid facing players as much as four years older than he, to a seasoned veteran who rarely gets rattled.
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"We've been pretty fortunate to have some good players come through Beyer over the years," Patriots co-coach Steve Clark said. "Kyle's been such a competitor. We know that once a week we can give him the ball and not have to worry too much."
Barrett says his success is just as much a result of the teams he's played on as his pitching.
"I call it 50-50," he said. "It's worked out pretty well. I've received a lot of run support over the seasons; and when it wasn't there, I've been able to step it up."
He was able to pick it up even before he entered high school. He joined Beyer's AAU summer league team after graduating eighth grade, when the Patriots needed a pitcher.
"We were short a few players, and asked him to join us," Clark said. "He went five shutout innings against Elk Grove. It was the first time we'd seen him. The first thing you noticed was all that red hair. Then you realized he was a pretty good pitcher, too."
He was brought up to Beyer's varsity as a freshman, and in his first official start he went four shutout innings against Central Section power Clovis.
"It was different, facing guys with beards," said Barrett, who was 14 at the time.
Clark saw one more start -- a victory over Redwood High -- and Barrett was on the varsity for good.
He won 10 games that year, including a victory over Lincoln of Stockton in the first round of the section Division I playoffs.
"That was probably the most scared I've ever been on the mound," Barrett said. "It was just an entirely different atmosphere, being in the playoffs like that."
It would be one of the last times Barrett was scared on the mound. Then, the Patriots' experienced team brought the confidence. Now, Barrett has just as much confidence as his teammates.
"We feel pretty good when Kyle's on the mound," Beyer senior Dillon Usiak said. "He's always going to give us a chance to win."
The Patriots are hoping for a couple more wins out of Barrett. This will be the fourth consecutive year he's started a first-round playoff game.
"He's a big-game pitcher," Clark said. "He likes to step up to that challenge."
And UOP is a field Barrett knows well. He's thrown there a few times.
"It's one of the nicest fields I've seen," he said. "Hopefully, it'll be nice to me."
It's got a pitching mound, and Barrett has felt at home on just about any mound in the section.
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.