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Former Providence Star Barry Red-Hot in California

Providence Catholic graduate and Orland Park native Tom Barry is mystifying hitters this summer as the ace of the San Luis Obispo Blues staff in the California Collegiate League.

It's been quite a summer for former Providence Catholic and current Northern Illinois University baseball standout Tom Barry.

The southpaw pitcher celebrated his 21st birthday on May 31, and on July 13 he appeared in the California Collegiate League All-Star Game at Casey Stengel Field in Glendale, Calif., representing the San Luis Obispo Blues. The game was televised by Fox Sports.

"When I came out here, I set a goal to make the All-Star team because I didn't make one last summer," Barry said. "So my goal was to do that and to put my name out there, so I'm pretty excited about that."

The Orland Park native pitched one inning in the All-Star Game, giving up a run and striking out a batter. He's been more dominant during the regular season, helping the Blues to a 22-9 record and a No. 10 ranking among all summer collegiate teams in the Perfect Game National Rankings.

There have been five former Blues players who have made it to the major leagues, including current Cubs ace Matt Garza, who played for San Luis Obispo in 2002.

Through the All-Star break, Barry had a 4-2 record overall and a 1.91 ERA. He'd given up just 23 hits in 33 innings of work and struck out 39. Opponents are hitting just .197 against him and have yet to tag him for a home run.

Even more impressive are Barry's numbers in conference games, where he's 3-1 with a 0.78 ERA. In conference, he has given up just 14 hits and two earned runs while pitching 23 innings.

"I feel like I'm clicking on all cylinders now after transitioning from school to summer ball," Barry said. "I finished strong towards the end of the spring and tried to take it into the summer, and I think I've done a good job of it."

Barry was 5-5 with a 3.79 ERA for Northern Illinois University this past spring. He'll return to DeKalb this fall in preparation for his senior year with the Huskies.

San Luis Obispo manager Chal Fanning has utilized a five-man starting rotation this summer, so Barry is pitching about once a week.

"I've just been trying to keep the same routine, and it has gone well," Barry said. "It's very similar to school and I'm just trying not to get burnt out."

Barry, who didn't just shine on Tom Dedin Field while at Providence but also was a key player on the basketball team and the starting quarterback on the football team for the Celtics, committed to playing in California last fall.

"I had a meeting with my head coach (at NIU) and he asked us where we wanted to play," Barry said. "I had heard California was a great place, so I requested to get on a team out there."

Barry has made quick friends with teammate Tanner Witt, a Kansas State player, who attended Lake Zurich High School. Barry and Witt are the only two players on the team who played high school ball in Illinois. The Blues' roster features players from Midwest universities such as Missouri, Kentucky and Nebraska, as well as West Coast schools such as Utah and Long Beach State, among many others.

San Luis Obispo is certainly different than Quincy, Ill., where Barry played his summer ball last season for the Quincy Gems. Barry resides with a host family in a separate guest house that basically serves as his own small apartment.

"We'll get an off day once a week and the coaches tell us to make sure we do something not baseball related," Barry said. "We'll head to the beach or do something else fun for the day."

But he might be having the most fun at the ballpark, where his fantastic summer has made him an All-Star.

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