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A tale told of two pitchers with completely different stories

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | May 28, 2021

SHEPHERDSTOWN — When at Jefferson High School, Dylan McCartney was the perfect player to coach. His ego couldn’t even be found with a microscope. He just wanted to play wherever he was needed and to please everybody he saw.

As a defensive catcher, he had few peers. His fundamentals were true, and his throwing was accurate. But he didn’t hit very well and could rarely find a useful rhythm at the plate.

He was steered in the direction of becoming a pitcher, always a position where there are never too many valued arms.

After completing his high school eligibility, McCartney joined an American Legion team in Berkeley County where his summer of play ended with him catching in the state tournament held in Keyser on the field of Potomac State, a two-year college.

Just when it seemed McCartney might have played his last game, his baseball journey was extended. McCartney’s personality and willingness to please were told to the baseball coaches at Garrett Community College in far-western Maryland where skiing and winter sports are favorites of those able to withstand the solemn winters.

As a freshman here in 2021, McCartney so improved his pitching techniques and pitching delivery that he began to register a 92 mph fastball on radar guns.

Through Garrett’s 29-23 “spring” season record, McCartney appeared in 12 games as a pitcher. He only had four starts, but was used as the team’s primary closer, getting four saves. His won-loss record was 0-1, but in 22.2 innings pitched, he had 37 strikeouts or a rate of 14.69 strikeouts per nine innings. He didn’t allow a home run, but did walk 20 batters in authoring a useful 3.57 Earned Run Average.

Garrett was paired against Chesapeake in a Regional finale that the Lakers had to win because they had advanced through the loser’s bracket to reach the championship round.

McCartney got the start against Chesapeake, but had his most ineffective outing of the season that badly inflated his overall ERA.

If he maintains his 92 mph fastball and fine tunes his control, he could eventually move to the roster of a four-year college that could benefit from a player with no corrosive residue from a useless ego, and some ability to get batters out.

Another pitcher with partial local ties is former West Virginia University left-handed pitcher John Means.

Means began to be noticed when he was toiling for a small high school in Kansas. Being left-handed was a “plus,” but so was the fact that he was being successful against batters of all persuasions.

He was already tall enough to satisfy the oft-stilted size qualifications professional baseball scouts want. While in Gardner, Kan., he was selected very late by Atlanta in the 2011 draft. When a Braves scout came to visit him, he had sustained an injury and the scout advised him to attend college and try to impress more baseball minds.

So his post high school playing days were begun at Fort Scott Community College where he stayed for one year, drawing the attention of WVU.

In his second year with the Mountaineers, Means was in the starting pitching rotation and had a 6-2 record with 3.13 ERA in 12 starts. It was his third year out of high school and he was eligible for another Major League Baseball draft.

He was selected in the 11th round of the 2014 draft by the Baltimore Orioles.

Beginning his play for pay season of 2015 at Class A Delmarva, Means actually showed the Oriole front office what they wanted to see when he had a no-hitter while getting batters out on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Starting at Frederick in 2016, he was eventually promoted to Bowie during the season. Then beginning the 2017 season at Bowie, he was later that same season brought up to the Class AAA Norfolk Tides.

In 2019 as a rookie on the Orioles’ roster, he performed so well for the always struggling Birds that was the team’s only player on the American League All-Star team. His record was 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA for the season.

After the virus-shortened 2020 season of only 60 games, Means was asked to be Baltimore’s Opening Day starter here in 2021.

On May 5 of this season, in a game against Seattle, Means pitched a no-hitter. The only batter to reach base against him did so when a third strike wasn’t caught and the batter/runner reached first base.

Means did not walk a batter. He didn’t hit anyone with a pitch nor were there any errors made behind him.

Before appearing as Baltimore’s starter against Minnesota on Monday, May 24, he had a 4-0 record, 59 strikeouts in 58.1 innings and a 1.70 ERA.

With Baltimore again mired in last place of the American League’s East Division, Means could again be the team’s only All-Star, if Trey Mancini isn’t selected.

Means is still only 28 years old, and could become the most decorated former WVU player of the modern Major League era (post 1950).