RALEIGH – Nick Swiney is parlaying a breakout season on the mound for the N.C. State with a summer playing in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.
And the Huntersville native didn’t have much time in between his final game with the Wolfpack – a 9-2 loss to East Carolina in Greenville June 2 – and preparing to venture north for Cotuit, Mass. There, he and two of his current teammates – pitchers Evan Justice and Reid Johnston – will play for the Cotuit Kettleers in a league filled with the country’s top college players.
“It will be a really cool experience, having the three other guys will be a lot of fun,” said Swiney, whose first game in the wooden-bat league is Monday, June 10.
The 6-foot-3 left-hander departed Hough two years ago with almost every school record in hand and was named conference player of the year in 2017. That season the Huskies had four players who will be pitching for Power 5 schools next year, with Tyler Shingledecker and Bailey Dees now at Penn State and J.D. Brock heading to Clemson in the fall.
But Swiney still stood out.
“He’s the best high school pitcher I’ve ever seen,” Hough coach Jimmy Cochrane said last month.
Following a freshman year in Raleigh with a 3.52 earned-run average and 37 strikeouts in 30.2 innings, Swiney’s shined in his enhanced role this spring.
In 2019, he led the Wolfpack in appearances (26) wins (7) and strikeouts (95) despite coming out of the bullpen for all but two games in February. In 56.2 innings, he held opponents to only a .194 batting average – the Pack’s top-two starting pitchers yielded .266 and .269.
Swiney said having Clint Chrysler join the team as pitching coach was a catalyst for his success.
“Coming in my freshman year, I was (throwing) fastball-curveball,” Swiney said. “When we got a new pitching coach, we were going to attack a lot on fastball. Just being able to command fastball on both sides of the plate. I hadn’t thrown a change up since high school. Chrysler thought it was best to bring my change-up back.”
Despite a 42-19 finish, State had the best record in the country after a 19-0 start, putting them in the top five of all major polls in March. Despite losing several starters off last year’s team, Swiney said the hot start wasn’t surprising.
“I think we all expected it,” Swiney said. “Everybody was playing really, really well. That was a lot of fun to start out the season that way.”
Wolfpack all-conference shortstop Will Wilson was drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft June 3. Swiney, who played against the Kings Mountain native as a 12-year-old, was with the rest of the team watching in the team clubhouse for the selection.
“That was a lot of fun,” Swiney said. “Being able to see him with his family was a cool experience. It was a lot of fun seeing him playing shortstop. I’m looking forward to keeping up with him.”
Huskies in Happy Valley
• Dees started 11 games as a sophomore for Penn State, going 2-1 with a 4.27 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 17 walks, giving up a .263 batting average.
• In 40.2 innings in his freshman year for the Nittany Lions, Shingledecker was 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 27 walks, giving up a .207 batting average, mostly in relief.
The two Huskies combined for a shutout Feb. 16 against Monmouth.