John McCrane didn’t have any individual goals.
All he wanted to do was help his team.
McCrane, who graduated from Holy Ghost Prep High School in June, is pitching for the University of the Sciences this year, and in order to help his team, he had to switch from a starter to a reliever. But the good news is he was told he would have a key spot on the team right from the start.
“Before the season, we all sat down and were told what our roles would be,” said McCrane, a Chalfont native. “I was told that I wouldn’t be starting, and that was a big change, but I was told that I’d be coming in games that were close, and being used more of a closer role, pitching one or two innings.”
It didn’t take long for the right-handed hurler to settle in and start contributing to the Devils’ cause. In his first outing of the season in North Carolina, McCrane threw two innings of scoreless ball to wrap up a 10–9 victory over Le Moyne.
His second outing was even better.
Playing across the street from Father Judge, McCrane entered the game trailing by one run against St. Anselm. He recorded five outs and the Devils took the lead, giving him his first college victory.
“It was great because it was so close to my house, my whole family was there,” McCrane said. “My grandparents were there, which was really nice. They always ask how I’m doing and try to follow all my games online. It was great that they were there to see me pitch.”
His grandparents probably would enjoy all of his outings.
In his first 3.2 innings on the year, he’s recorded seven strikeouts, one hit and no runs.
“It’s gone great so far,” McCrane said. “I knew there would be an adjustment period in playing baseball, and in school. It’s been getting easier, and it’s going great.”
McCrane entered University of the Sciences with an impressive resume.
Twice, he was selected as a first team All-Bicentennial Athletic League player, and last year he helped the Firebirds go 15–6 and in the process win another league crown.
He later guided Holy Ghost to the second round of the district playoffs.
Not bad for a guy who entered high school as a basketball player who also played baseball.
“I actually went (to Holy Ghost) because I went to their basketball camp and I loved it,” McCrane said. “I was definitely more of a basketball player coming into high school, but I developed more in baseball.
“I liked basketball, but baseball became my top sport in high school, and that’s why I came to (University of the Sciences). I really liked the baseball program.”
For McCrane, playing college baseball is much like playing in high school. The only difference is how he changes his approach as a reliever rather than being a starter.
“When you’re starting, you have to pitch a lot differently,” McCrane said. “Now, I just go out and put everything into the one or two innings. I know I’m not going to be out there long. You don’t have to conserve energy, you just go out and throw.”
That’s not the only adjustment he had to make.
When he wasn’t pitching in high school, he would help out in other ways.
Not only would he help at the plate, but he would play shortstop when he wasn’t on the mound.
“I definitely miss hitting,” McCrane said. “But I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team. I definitely am more used to being a starting pitcher, but I’m starting to get used to coming in and throwing. The more I do it, the more comfortable I’ll be.”
That goes for off the diamond as well.
McCrane was recruited by the Devils, and once he realized where he was going, it became time to pick a major. Always a strong science student, he decided to go that route
“Chemistry was my favorite subject, so I thought about majoring in that, but then I switched it to pharmacy,” said McCrane, who missed the dean’s list by .05 points on his grade point average during his first semester in college. “I’m doing well, I love my classes. I’m not taking too many pharmacy classes yet, I’ll take them in my junior and senior years, but I’m taking classes like chemistry and biology and they’re really interesting.”
Leaving college with a degree isn’t the only perk McCrane is getting while playing college baseball.
He enjoys hitting the road a few times a week. Not only is he getting to see places, but he’s having fun playing ball in warmer-weather states like North Carolina.
“I think the travel is one of the best parts about playing,” McCrane said. “I don’t mind long bus rides and I love playing in the warmer-weather places. When you’re playing there, especially pitching, it’s good. Everyone’s (velocity) goes up a few miles.
“I wanted to come in and help right away, so it’s definitely nice to do that. If I’m playing and helping the team, really that’s all I care about.”