Strong summer baseball stint has Fox Chapel grad McRandal eager for junior season at Mercyhurst | TribLIVE.com
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Strong summer baseball stint has Fox Chapel grad McRandal eager for junior season at Mercyhurst

Jerin Steele
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Fox Chapel grad Nick Randal pitched for the Quincy Gems during the summer of 2019.
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Submitted
Fox Chapel grad Nick Randal pitched for the Quincy Gems during the summer of 2019.

Nick McRandal spent most of his sophomore year at Mercyhurst rehabbing a minor arm injury before returning just in time to pitch in the Division II World Series.

Getting in a few innings at Mercyhurst was the first step back. But McRandal, a Fox Chapel graduate, wanted a test in the summer to prove he was fully healthy, so he headed to Illinois to play for the Quincy Gems.

He passed with flying colors.

McRandal posted a 2-0 record with a 2.79 ERA in nine appearances (five starts) and was named a midseason and postseason Prospect League All-Star, which provided a confidence boost heading into fall ball with the Lakers.

“It was a great experience this summer,” McRandal said. “Every goal I had was exceeded. Pitching well was the big thing. I didn’t want to go out there and just light up a radar gun. Having the numbers I did, I was more than ecstatic, especially coming off of an injury. It was awesome seeing that I could do that, especially in a league like the Prospect League.”

He had a team-best 47 strikeouts to 17 walks and yielded only 22 hits in 29 innings. In four of his outings, he did not allow a run and allowed more than two runs only once.

What makes his stats even more impressive is he posted them in a hitter-friendly ballpark. McRandal made six of his nine appearances at QU Baseball Stadium, the Gems’ home park, which is known as a hitter’s heaven. The Gems hit 106 homers as a team in 60 games, 39 more than anyone else, and many of them came at home.

The homer total wasn’t an anomaly. The Gems have led the Prospect League in homers each of the last four years.

McRandal surrendered only four homers.

“I gave up my first homer in my second outing, and I thought it was routine fly ball until I turned around and saw that the right fielder didn’t even move,” McRandal said. “That’s when I knew I had to really focus on every pitch, because a mistake was going to get hit over the fence.”

He also put up those numbers while starting games for the first time since he was at Fox Chapel. It was a nice change to throw multiple innings after being used as a late-inning reliever for most of his first two seasons at Mercyhurst.

“When I was younger, I loved starting big games and being in big moments, so it was great to do that again,” McRandal said. “I was happy to come out of there feeling healthy after five and six innings, as opposed to coming in and throwing 20 or 30 pitches in an outing.”

What impressed McRandal the most about the summer was the type of hitters he faced. He saw plenty of major Division I players and was satisfied with how he fared against them.

“This year for the Prospect League in general, I thought it was a really good year. Some of the hitters I faced were really good,” McRandal said. “There were some guys from big schools like Arkansas and Missouri. It was definitely a better league than I anticipated. I wanted to see what I was made of. Every day I focused on my game, and I’m glad it worked out.”

Another enjoyable part was playing in front of packed stadiums. McRandal said he had never experienced crowds like they had in Quincy. The Gems were fourth in attendance in the Prospect League, averaging more than 900 fans.

“It was fun to be in that environment. It wasn’t like pitching in college or high school in front of only parents and family,” McRandal said. “It was a cool experience to be in front of a big home crowd.”

McRandal credited the Quincy coaches Pat Robles, Brad Powell and Matt Crook, his host family, Wendell and Sandy Wray, and Gems owner Jimmie Louthan for making him feel comfortable all summer and helping him succeed.

With a strong summer in the books, McRandal is looking forward to having a healthy junior season and playing a role in trying to get the Lakers back to the Division II World Series for a third consecutive season.

“I don’t know what (Mercyhurst) coach (Joe) Spano’s plans are exactly, but I think I’m in the mix for a starting rotation spot,” McRandal said. “I think he wanted to see what I could do in that role this summer and how I handled it.”

Categories: Sports | College-District
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