McCullough getting most of shot

SV grad making up for lost time on the hill

July 13, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports

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Recent Seneca Valley High School graduate Jon McCullough has made up for losing his senior prep baseball season by dominating on the mound in the Youngstown B League and the Butler County Area Baseball League.

CRANBERRY TWP — This spring was to be Jon McCullough's turn to be Seneca Valley's “innings eater.”

The senior right-hander had a solid year on the mound for the Raiders as a junior in 2019, compiling a 1.50 earned run average in 25 innings.

“But Cory Greiner was our staff ace, the guy who got the most innings,” McCullough said. “I was gonna be that guy this year.”

But there was no this year. Seneca Valley's high school baseball season — like every other school's — was wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak.

That's OK now.

McCullough is making up for lost time.

Shortly after graduation, McCullough committed to Seton Hill University, where he will study accounting. The 6-foot-2 hurler is pitching for the Astro-Falcons of the Youngstown B League and Cranberry Township in the Butler County Area Baseball League this summer.

And he's doing quite well for both.

McCullough is sporting a 3-0 record and a 1.30 ERA with 18 strikeouts and two walks in 20 innings for the Astro-Falcons. He is 2-0 with a save in three appearances with Cranberry and has yet to allow a run.

This is his first season pitching in the BCABL.

“Since we didn't play high school, I was looking for a way to get more games in and Coach (Larry) Stelitano invited me to join them,” McCullough said. “It's been fun. I played high school ball with a lot of those guys.”

It hasn't been much fun for the hitters he's been facing.

McCullough has faced 40 batters in BCABL play so far this season. He's allowed one hit, struck out 24 and walked only two.

“He's simply been dominant,” Stelitano said. “Jon's been painting the corners with his fastball, low and away, low and in — right on the black.”

Seneca Valley catcher Clayton Blucher — who also catches McCullough for Cranberry — echoes that statement.

“I never have to move my glove when I set up on the corner,” Blucher said.

McCullough has been throwing his fastball in the upper 80's. His slider has been in the mid 70's in terms of velocity.

“That difference in speed is natural and has worked out well for me,” he said. “Then my curve gets hitters way out in front and I get a lot of weak pop-ups or ground balls.”

Blucher said McCullough's performance this summer was practically inevitable.

“Had we played a high school season, Jon would have been one of the best pitchers in the WPIAL, if not the best,” the catcher said. “His command is ridiculous.”

The Youngstown B League features a lot of young or future college players. Pitching in that circuit is McCullough's main priority.

“I do watch his innings and pitches,” Stelitano said. “I took him out after five innings (at West Sunbury Tuesday) even though he only threw 52 pitches in five innings.

“We had a big lead and want to get other guys in there.”

McCullough struck out 10 and allowed his first BCABL hit Tuesday night. He tossed a five-inning no-hitter against East Butler earlier this season and threw two hitless innings of relief against Center Township.

The Astro-Falcons are 12-1 on the year while Cranberry Township is 8-2.

“I've been starting and relieving for both teams, both are winning ... It's been a blast,” McCullough said.

McCullough chose Seton Hill over Bucknell and some Division I Big South Conference schools.

“I'm hoping to get my fastball up (in speed) a little more and my end goal is to get drafted after my junior or senior year,” he said. “If that doesn't happen, just pitch well and help the team win.

“Usually, colleges tell incoming freshmen how many innings or pitches to throw for the summer. But this year, with no spring season, Seton Hill is letting us pitch as much as we want over the summer. I make sure I get three to five days off between mound appearances.”

McCullough plays third base for Cranberry when he's not on the mound. He's hitting over .400 as a middle of the lineup batter.

“I prefer pitching because you're the one in control,” he said. “But I love hitting, too.”

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John Enrietto

John Enrietto

I graduated with a Journalism degree from Ohio University in 1979. I started at the Eagle on August 24, 1997. My awards include 2nd place in feature writing from Ohio Associated Press (while working for the Steubenville Herald-Star), media award from Lernerville Speedway and 3rd place in a Pennsylvania AP contest for story feature.