Dustin Hunt can now always boast that for two innings late one February, he held the Boston Red Sox scoreless.
Last week’s unofficial opening of spring training may have been nothing more than a charming formality that has the hometown team playing games against a pair of Boston-based college squads in Fort Myers, Fla.
But for Hunt, it was one of the most memorable experiences of his life.
In fact, last Wednesday, the night before the Red Sox took the field for their first time this season, the Northeastern University freshman who hails from Andover and starred at St. John’s Prep in Danvers had trouble sleeping in his hotel room.
“Our pitching coach came up to me while we were stretching (on Wednesday) and told me I was starting against the Red Sox,” the 6-foot-4 Hunt said. “I was a little stunned. And then I started to get a little nervous.”
Hunt’s start against the Sox last Thursday, Feb. 27, probably had something to do with his performance recently, which included four shutout innings against Houston Baptist a couple weekends ago. He also pitched four hard-fought innings against nationally ranked Texas A&M the week before.
The morning of the big game, Hunt and his Northeastern teammates joined the Red Sox for a pregame meal at JetBlue Park and the Huskies mingled with the pro ballplayers during batting practice. It quelled the nerves a little bit, Hunt said.
“Jonny Gomes was one of the nicest guys,” he said. “David Ortiz was great. He shook hands and posed for pictures. Dustin Pedroia, he was great, too, just talking and asking us about our team.”
Then came game time, which Hunt said was surreal.
“First off, the stadium is the best I’ve ever played in,” he said. “It was beautiful. And the place was packed. I was on the mound, warming up, and I couldn’t believe I was there.”