If you would have told Dillon Larsen in his senior season of high school that in a couple of years he would be pitching for Division I Virginia Tech, he wouldn’t have believed you.

The idea of college baseball wasn’t even a thought. And Virginia Tech, all the way on the East Coast? Larsen had never stepped foot past Wyoming.

But for a kid who didn’t earn much playing time at Ellensburg High School to get where he is today, Larsen has made quite the journey.

“I went farther than most people ever thought I’d go,” the EHS grad (’15) said. “I proved that to them, and more importantly I proved that to myself.”

But it hasn’t been an easy path, as he’s bounced around from school to school. He stayed home to attend Central Washington University his freshman year, but it was short-lived.

After living in Ellensburg all his life, it was time for a change. Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon was the next escapade, an opportunity to play one season and transfer out.

“I wanted to see other places and experience baseball outside of it. That was my biggest reason for leaving (CWU),” Larsen said.

Larsen didn’t find much success on the mound for CWU. He appeared in 11 games (started four) and went 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in 18.1 innings while striking out 17 batters.

He turned it around at Lane CC, seeing 12 games of action (started nine) and posted a 4-4 mark with a 2.98 ERA. He pitched a total of 51.1 innings and fanned down 54 batters.

Those statistics allured Virginia Tech, and is where Larsen decided to transfer for his junior season.

Larsen didn’t even have to visit the school. He trusted his childhood friend Dalton Harum’s judgment who went on a visit two weeks before Larsen signed.

“My buddy Dalton, he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll send you all these pictures, we’ll face time whenever I’m on mine (visit),’” Larsen said. “And I’m pretty sure he sent me like three pictures and one was of the floor in the dugout — it was just like a blank picture. He goes, ‘If you don’t sign those papers, we aren’t friends anymore.’”

Larsen saw minimal playing time for the Hokies. He was out of the bullpen in all six appearances with only a total of 3.1 innings pitched. He yielded four runs total (all earned), but two of them came in the very first game he threw. It was versus Manhattan College in Deland, Flordia in a 15-3 win.

Despite the poor outing, it was still a memorable one.

“I just remember going out there and like ‘Damn, this is actually happening,” Larsen said. “There are cameras around, hundreds of people, it’s hot, we’re in Florida. And then I ended up not throwing very well. It was pretty heartbreaking, but coaches were quick to get me back out there.”

But now, Larsen is heading back to where it all started: CWU.

He wasn’t guaranteed innings at Virginia Tech, the school itself is expensive, and doesn’t want his final season to be more on the bench rather than the pitching mound.

BACK HOME

Transferring back to CWU is the right opportunity to finish where he started.

“My biggest goal right now is get as good as I can playing in the summer, absolutely dominate in the GNAC, and try and sign a pro contract — keep it alive,” Larsen said.

As of now, Larsen is competing with the Victoria Harbourcats in Canada. It’s a collegiate summer ball club that’s part of the touted West Coast League.

In three games (all started), Larsen holds a 4.62 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched. His best outing was on June 7, tossing five innings of work allowing no runs, three hits, and striking out eight in a 2-1 loss.

With not seeing much game action at Virginia Tech, he’s working on getting confidence in his game, trusting his pitches, and establishing a better feel for the strike zone.

“He just needs to compete,” said the general manager of Victoria Jim Swanson. “And this is what our league gives guys a chance to do is to build on what they competed with in the spring.”

Larsen had a connection with Victoria pitching coach Ian Sanderson and is how he inked with the team for the summer. Swanson was elated to add the 6-foot-5 lefty to the rotation.

“I think he’s a leader on our pitching staff and a guy who others are looking forward to see pitch when it’s his turn that comes around,” Swanson said. “And I think so far he’s been a guy that our fans, our coaches and his teammates have all been impressed with each time he grabs the ball.”

Mechanically, Larsen wants to be able to get that first-pitch strike, locate the fastball wherever he wants, and get batters out with the secondary pitches.

But also being able to adapt if a certain pitch isn’t quite working.

“You’re never going to have all your stuff every single game,” he said.

While it didn’t work out at Virginia Tech, he’s using this summer to prepare himself for his return to Ellensburg.

“It’s not over is the one thing,” Larsen said. “I got to keep my head up and keep grinding. I never thought I’d play for Virginia Tech, I never thought I’d even play college baseball. That’s proof there that anything can happen.”

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