Aleywine is ‘Mr. Clutch’ for Rebels this season

New Market Rebels' pitcher and first baseman Alec Aleywine sprints down the first base line after hitting an infield ground ball against Front Royal on June 26 at New Market Rebel Park. Aleywine has played a big role with the team, both as a hitter and a pitcher. Rich Cooley/Daily

NEW MARKET — Whenever the New Market Rebels have needed a big hit this season, there’s one player they’ve been able to count on — Alec Aleywine.

The Rebel, who has batted either fourth or fifth in the lineup all season, has come up big in big situations to help put New Market in second place in the Valley Baseball League.

“Offensively he’s been Mr. Clutch for us this year,” New Market head coach Zac Cole said. “He’s come up a couple times for us with two outs and had some runners on, in those kind of situations, and drove in some runs. He’s had a lot of go-ahead or game-leading, game-tying type of RBIs. So I think for me at this point in this season here he’s been very clutch and very timely with his hitting and that’s one of those things where he wants so bad to win.”

Cole knows Aleywine and his game very well. Cole coached Aleywine’s travel baseball team in Florida.

Aleywine said when Cole asked him to come play for him in New Market he jumped at the chance. He said having Cole as a coach again has been nice, especially being so far from his hometown of Panama City, Florida.

Alec Aleywine, of the New Market Rebels, waits to bat against Front Royal on June 26 at Rebel Park. Aleywine has been part of the Rebels' depth offensively this season. New Market is hitting .278 as a team. Rich Cooley/Daily file

“He’s always had my back in situations,” Aleywine said. “He’s always helped me out, get me where I am today. I just have a really good connection with him. He’s a great coach. He’s a good leader. He knows what’s best for me, which is really important.”

Cole said he also knows Aleywine’s family really well, which helps them as well.

“I think there’s this comfort zone with them for him personally and then also for his family,” Cole said. “They know that he’s up here with me and they know I’ll take good care of him. I think also he knows what my expectations are for him because he’s been through it with me before. He knows what I expect of him and what I’m not only going to expect, what I’m going to require of him.”

Aleywine just completed his freshman season at Gulf Coast State College, in Panama City, Florida. He said that he hit .316 for his team this past season.

He said that he learned a lot from his first season of college baseball.

“It was a pretty humbling experience, because honestly it wasn’t really what I expected,” Aleywine said. “I came in and struggled right at first. I had to kind of sit back and relax and kind of visualize my plans for the season and my goals. I just started to grind and it just taught me that hard work is everything.”

Aleywine, who plays at first base and pitches, has had a strong season for the Rebels.

He is batting .325 (26-for-80) with two doubles, three home runs and a team-best 19 RBIs.

Aleywine said that being both a pitcher and a hitter helps him at both positions.

“From a pitching perspective you kind of want to learn how to pitch to hitters,” Aleywine said. “And then when you’re hitting you know OK maybe this pitcher’s going to throw this pitch in this situation, or he might want to do this. So you kind of use both to help you out with one or the other. So it kind of levels out.”

His pitching has been just as strong for the Rebels as his hitting.

Aleywine has started three games this season and is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA. He has 14 strikeouts in 18.2 innings of work.

Cole said Aleywine’s play, both hitting and pitching, have been important to the team.

“Individually as a pitcher and individually as a hitter, in both of those places, he’s helped our team tremendously,” Cole said. “I think when you put them both together it’s on another level. In my opinion, he’s in the running to be player of the year in the league at this point just for what he’s done on both sides. He’s been, I would say, early on the MVP of our team.”

Cole said that Aleywine recently had a ground ball take a bad hop and hit him in the face, giving him a swollen black eye. Cole said the next day Aleywine was on the mound pitching for the Rebels, despite the obvious pain he was in.

Cole said that Aleywine is one of the toughest athletes he’s been around.

“That’s where it all starts with him,” Cole said. “He’s got all the traits that you see in guys that are very successful. And it’s not just guys in baseball, it’s guys in just about anything they want to do. He understands what it takes to be successful.”

Cole said with Aleywine pitching and playing at first base he’s had to watch him to make sure he isn’t over-using him. He said usually a day after he pitches he will use him as a designated hitter instead of playing him in the field. Cole said that it helps that he knows Aleywine so well, and he trusts Aleywine to let him know if he is too tired or needs a day off.

Aleywine said the team has good chemistry and he feels good about what they can accomplish for the rest of the season.

The Rebels are 11-10 and are three games behind Purcellville, tied for second, in the North Division.

Aleywine said that it’s been tough being 12 hours from home, but he knows if he wants to play baseball at the professional level this is something he has to get used to.

He said that like everyone that plays he just wants to keep playing as long as he can.

“I have a true love for the game, and I’m passionate about it,” Aleywine said. “And every day I come out and I just say ‘man, I can see myself doing this for as long as I can.'”