Sophomore McGuire off to impressive start for Pine-Richland baseball

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Saturday, April 10, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Jacob McGuire walked off the mound after the final out of Pine-Richland’s 11-0 win in five innings in the season opener against North Catholic happy with his performance.

He had no idea, though, that he had thrown a no-hitter in his first varsity start.

“I found out at the end of the game,” he said. “It was probably better that way, because I would have been more nervous.”

McGuire, a sophomore, followed up his no-hitter with another strong outing, going 5 2/3 innings, allowing only three hits and two runs to go along with six strikeouts in an 8-3 win in Pine-Richland’s section opener at Central Catholic.

His emergence as a reliable pitcher has been much needed for the Rams, who entered the season with their top two pitchers — West Virginia recruit Tommy Beam and West Virginia Wesleyan commit Gabe Mustovic — and left-hander Andy Swartout on the shelf because of injury.

Pine-Richland coach Kurt Wolfe said before the season he wanted some players to step up as anchors for the pitching staff, and McGuire has delivered.

“We knew he had a nice arm, but what makes him even more impressive is the way he locates and commands the game,” Wolfe said. “He’s well beyond his years for a sophomore. When you’re pitching you have to have a little bit of an edge and a little bit of moxie, and he has that type of confidence. We talk about competing all the time, and that’s what he does. He competes. That’s all you can ask of him. He’s done a lot of nice things for us.”

McGuire had a 1.31 ERA with 14 strikeouts to six walks going into Pine-Richland’s Monday/Tuesday series with Seneca Valley.

Sean Connolly, a senior, has also been strong on the mound for the Rams (3-1, 1-1 in Section 1-6A). He pitched five tough innings, giving up only one earned run and got out of a couple jams in a 6-2 loss to Central Catholic in Game 2 of the section opening series.

For McGuire, the first section start against Central Catholic was a little more nerve-wracking, but he settled in early. He gets comfort out of having a senior-laden group around him, including catcher Joey Woodrow.

“There were a little more nerves with being a more important game, but our team has a lot of energy,” McGuire said. “It makes my job easy. I just have to throw strikes, and I know my team will back me up. (Woodrow) tells me before every inning when he comes out to the mound to throw strikes and that we’re behind you.”

Aside from pitching, McGuire also plays shortstop. He is batting .250 through four games with three RBIs, including a run-scoring single in the win over Central Catholic.

Wolfe typically puts in a designated hitter for the pitcher to allow them to solely focus on pitching, but with the injuries the Rams have it made sense to keep McGuire’s bat in the lineup. They did the same thing in Game 2 with Connolly.

“Jacob has handled the bat well,” Wolfe said. “He understands the strike zone. He has good hands and he looks to go the other way deep in counts. He’s not your typical sophomore. He handles himself well.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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