Editor’s note: This article is a part of a weekly series that the Beaver County Times will publish every Wednesday titled the “On-Campus Report,” where sports reporter Parth Upadhyaya will catch up with former Beaver Valley high school stars who are now in the collegiate ranks.
Michael Boswell didn’t realize what he’d accomplished until he was stopped at home plate.
Boswell, a sixth-year senior pitcher at Division II Tiffin University and former Riverside High School star, was walking off the Dragons’ Heminger Field after his team’s 8-5 win over Trevecca Nazarene on April 16 when his pitching coach halted him. Tiffin assistant coach Drew Patton had some news to share: Boswell had picked up the 24th victory of his career, breaking the Dragons’ program record for career wins by a pitcher (a mark of 23 wins set by Gregg Prenzlin from 1994-97).
“My pitching coach means the world to me,” Boswell told the Beaver County Times in a recent interview. “Him and my head coach, Joe Wilkins, were, in reality, out of high school, the only two that ever gave me a true opportunity and a true chance to play college baseball and to really do this. So, for him to meet me at home plate and give me a hug and tell me that I’d broken the record, it was a pretty special moment.”
Now at 25 career victories, the 6-foot-2 Beaver Falls native is putting the finishing touches on his legacy as a player at Tiffin. Boswell leads his team this season with seven wins, an ERA of 2.14 and 75 strikeouts.
The Dragons (25-16, 20-6) end their regular season on May 7 before gearing up for postseason play. But even with only a handful of games left on the schedule, Boswell’s time with the Tiffin baseball program is far from over. He’ll return to northern Ohio next spring as a graduate assistant coach while he finishes up a master’s degree in leadership.
Boswell feels that at this point in his career, his “knowledge and experience” of the game will be put to better use helping younger players advance their playing careers than it would be trying to chase a professional contract himself.
“He’s got a sense of gravity to him,” said fourth-year pitcher Gunnar Boehm, who was also Boswell’s teammate at Riverside. “People just go toward him. And when they have questions about really anything, he just has the answers.”
Boswell has enjoyed success on the diamond dating to his high school days. After leading Riverside to a WPIAL Class 2A title as a senior in 2016, he earned player of the year honors by The Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As a freshman at Tiffin in 2017, he was named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year. Then, after a 2019 season lost to a knee injury and a 2020 campaign shortened due to COVID-19, Boswell was given second-team, all-conference honors last spring.
Still, he doesn’t envision a team selecting him in July’s MLB draft, primarily because he’s older than most other prospects.
The thought of one day becoming a coach in some capacity first struck Boswell last season. That’s when he stepped into more of a mentorship role than in years past, providing insight to several of the Dragons’ incoming freshmen on anything baseball- or non-baseball-related.
“You help a kid, and he does it and it looks good,” Boswell said. “And you start to be successful (at coaching), and it kind of draws you in a little bit. It’s like (you’re) a part of their success. It’s cool to see guys (when) you tell them something and the lightbulb clicks. And it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that works.’ And they do it. And they work harder, and they get better. … I think that’s the biggest thing. I want to help guys get better.”
Those who know him best — like Boehm and Riverside head coach Dan Oliastro — describe Boswell as always having been a “student of the game.”
Soon enough, he’ll get a chance to utilize that trait in a way that’s different but no less impactful.
“That’s how he carried himself in high school, and that’s how he’s carrying himself now,” Boehm said. “It’s really paying off, because he’s the old guy. So everybody likes to listen to the old guy.”
Boswell admitted that it was “a tough pill to swallow” when he came to the conclusion that the opportunity for him to play professional baseball is slim. But the fact that he’ll be “staying within the game” and impacting the lives of young baseball players gives him solace.
It doesn’t matter if Boswell suits up for another game or not — collegiately or professionally. His legacy will forever be etched into the Dragons’ program. Until whoever is up next catches him, he’ll remain the winningest pitcher in Tiffin history.
But perhaps the most telling indicator of the type of coach Boswell will one day be had nothing to do with his performance on April 16, but instead the way he conducted himself afterward.
“It was just another day in the office (for him),” Boehm said. “I think he knew how big it was, but he just wanted to treat it just like another win.”
Contact Parth Upadhyaya at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @pupadhyaya_.
This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Riverside's Boswell adds to legacy near end of baseball playing career