It was a joyous occasion for Blane Abeyta and his family when the 2017 Ceres High grad/Modesto Junior College sophomore realized a lifelong athletic goal in November.
Abeyta posed for pictures with his parents Daniel and Terra, sister Heather, and grandparents Gilbert and Patricia after he signed a national letter of intent with the University of Nevada at Reno baseball program.
Gilbert, who passed away on Jan. 1, taught Abeyta how to play the sport during his childhood in Martinez.
“My grandpa introduced me to baseball,” said Blane, a 6-foot-3 190-pound pitcher. “From then on, it’s a game I’ve always loved. It’s going to be hard starting this journey without him.”
Abeyta will enroll at Nevada this fall.
“Blane has a chance to be an elite arm for us and eat up innings in his first year with us."Wolf Pack head coach T.J. Bruce
“Blane has a chance to be an elite arm for us and eat up innings in his first year with us,” Wolf Pack head coach T.J. Bruce said. “He is fairly new to pitching so his arm is fresh and his pitching acumen will get better and better with every outing he has. We are very excited for Blane’s future here and we can’t wait to get him to campus.”
“It really is a dream come true,” Abeyta said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted. I’m just glad I get to continue my education and keep playing baseball. Coming out of high school, I had no offers. I thought about not playing. I was just going to go to school and work.”
The Wolf Pack posted a 29-24 overall record and placed first in the Mountain West Conference standings (20-9).
“It’s exciting being a part of a Division-I program,” Abeyta said. “Everything felt right going there during my visit. My family liked it, too. I had heart-to-heart talks with their head coach and pitching coach. They showed a lot of interest in me.”
A standout hitter and catcher at Ceres High, Abeyta changed positions during his freshman year at Modesto JC.
“He (Pirates’ head coach Zeb Brayton) noticed I had a strong arm and had me throw bullpen,” Abeyta said. “Learning how to pitch was the hardest part. I only had a fastball and curveball in high school. Now, I have three other pitches. I developed a changeup, slider and two-seam fastball. I never thought pitching would take me to the next level.”
Abeyta ranked second in the Big-8 Conference with five saves.
He posted a 1.62 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 16 innings.
“I was used throughout the season,” Abeyta said. “Whenever a save was needed, that’s when I came in. I really surprised myself.”
Abeyta has been named a 2019 Preseason All-American for his final year with Modesto JC.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “At the end of the day, I just got to do my job. I don’t know if I’ll be a starter or if I will continue to close. I don’t care what my role is as long as I continue to play the game.”
Abeyta will begin his pitching career at Nevada in the spring of 2020.
He’s looking forward to competing in front of family.
Grandpa Gilbert will be watching from above.
“Just to see his face light up was priceless,” Abeyta said while talking about the day he committed to Nevada. “For him to be there, it meant the world. He wasn’t supposed to come. It was a surprise. I’m planning on getting a tattoo of the day he passed on my left arm.”