Tom Finnegan’s hectic summer ended with a college decision.
The Ocean City High School rising sophomore pitching standout committed over the weekend to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, on a baseball scholarship. The Commodores went 59-12 and won the NCAA Division I national championship this year.
“I’ve been all over the map this summer,” Finnegan said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It (his college choice) is definitely a relief and takes some stress off my head.”
Finnegan, 16, was 4-2 with a 0.82 ERA for Ocean City this past season. The right-hander struck out 34 in 34 innings.
The 6-foot-6 Finnegan committed to the University of Kentucky before he even threw a high school pitch. As an eighth-grader, Finnegan caught the attention of college coaches when he pitched at a showcase event in Jupiter, Florida.
But he withdrew that commitment in July after Kentucky pitching coach Jim Belanger left for Florida State.
“I just thought it would be the best decision to re-evaluate and pick another school that I thought would fit me better,” Finnegan said. “I decommitted, and right after that I was back on the market.”
Finnegan visited three colleges this summer. He traveled to Vanderbilt and Duke earlier this summer and to Florida State this past weekend. He made his college decision Sunday.
Under NCAA rules, Finnegan’s commitment is not official until he signs a binding National Letter of Intent. He cannot sign that letter until November of his senior year.
“Vanderbilt was the best pick for me,” Finnegan said. “It’s the mixture between the tremendous academics they provide and obviously the baseball I thought would be the best fit.
“I learned a lot from decommitting. I learned to like the university first and then baseball second.”
Vanderbiltk, whose head coach is Tim Corbin, is known for producing outstanding pitchers. David Price of the Boston Red Sox, Mike Minor off the Texas Rangers and Walker Buehler of the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the active big league pitchers who have played for the Commodores.
“Vanderbilt all around produces tremendous baseball players,” Finnegan said. “It’s an amazing place. All the guys are full committed to bettering themselves and their teammates. They’re all there to win. There are all just dudes there.”