Maryland RBI’s McGrath commits to Eastern University

DUNKIRK, Md.—As a junior last season, there was arguably no more frustrated player in all Maryland high school baseball than Northern’s Mac McGrath going into the season.

     The 2016 college prospect, who tore his ACL in 2014, sat out nearly all the entire following year from sports while he was recovering. He kept busy and involved in the Northern program serving as the baseball team’s student manager.

     When the doctors gave him the green light to return to the diamond with the Patriots in 2015, he wasted no time. As a key reserve, he hit .300 with 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored and a double.

     Afterward with his Maryland RBI travel team in summer 2015, McGrath quickly lit up the Maryland AAU Baseball wood bat league circuit flashing gap to gap power and hustle as if shot from a cannon.

     The 6-foot, 185-pound senior outfielder, catcher and utility infielder finished the summer travel season with a .346 batting average and 4 doubles, a home run and 8 runs batted in. He made a mark in on base percentage (.564), slugging (.615) and on base plus slugging with an intimidating 1.179.

     With such an extraordinary comeback performance and outings at elite college showcases, including Jerry Wargo’s Southern Maryland, the Under Armour Top96 in 2014, and the AAU Super Showcase and the College World Series showcase in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2012 and 2013, the college interest started coming in.

     This included interest from Elmira College in New York, Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, Maryland’s St. Mary’s College, and Eastern University in Pennsylvania, which McGrath has decided to attend.

     "I just felt good committing to Eastern,” Mac said. "They are an athletic and academic fit. I feel like they give me the best chance to both get my degree and play baseball collegiately.

     "The academics are great and they have one of the better physical therapy programs in the country and that's what I want to major in. I went up there (Eastern) for a visit and the campus was unbelievable. They have a great sports program and the coaching staff has a lot of great guys. It's just a really good fit for me."

     Maryland RBI manager Mike Graham said, "If you can catch the ball, run the bases, hit with power, field, throw and do the little things that are part of the game then they call you a good ballplayer. Mac is a good ballplayer.

     “He does things you don’t see anyone else do. He'll try to score from first on a single, take two bases on a pop-up. That’s what I love about ‘Big Mac’ — he doesn’t play it safe, he’s not afraid to get out. He takes chances no other player thinks about; and that’s what separates a sheep from a wolf.

     “It’s no surprise at all he’s been picked up for college ball,” Graham said. “His enthusiasm and exuberance while striving to achieve in all phases of the game, playing multiple positions — and just his confidence and courage to go big all the time — that distinguishes him. He really stands out and separates himself that way.”

     After such a strong summer in AAU, McGrath realized that his goal of playing college baseball was becoming more a strong possibility. And late last month, that goal came true, with him committing to Eastern University.

     McGrath credits his years of Maryland RBI Baseball travel-select experience with preparing him for college baseball.

     “It’s awesome to have coaches like Coach (Chris) Cummings, Jerry Gamblin and Jim Hoyer who have played college and pro ball be a part of the team because they have such great knowledge of the game. They’ve been around it so much and have seen it all.”

     The intrepid senior will suit up once more for the Patriots in 2016, hoping to help lead Northern to another county championship and States. Then, in addition to college baseball, he has two years of AAU eligibility remaining.

     “Mac’s one of those players there for the love of being part of something bigger than himself,” Coach Graham said. “People who are really successful in life are the ones that can see a larger vision like that for themselves and earn the respect of others. They don’t quit. They are all heart—heart and muscle. These virtues have led Mac to being one of the best we have had in the program. I really admire him and know his mom, Kolleen, is bursting with pride. So are his coaches.”

     McGrath said. "Coach Graham is always telling our team that what you put into life is what you get out of it, and how people make their own luck by the choices they make along the way. I love the excitement of being on the field and flying around the bases and making plays.

     “Since first knowing about Eastern, it was the school I looked at most and it was where I wanted to be. It's just a blessing and I am very excited to be a part of the Eagles and continue playing baseball while getting a college education.”

      “College baseball recruiting is changing,” Graham said. “In the competition for quality personnel, colleges are now looking for a lot of measurables — academics, community service, leadership — not just skill. Mac demonstrates both skill and the measurables, which we’re going to see more and more of in recruiting at all ages.”