George Mason bound

By on June 20, 2018
Lefty pitcher Nate Young, a member of Ephrata’s Class of 2018 who helped lead the Mounts to the Section Two, L-L League and District Three 5A titles this spring, will continue his career at George Mason

Lefty pitcher Nate Young, a member of Ephrata’s Class of 2018 who helped lead the Mounts to the Section Two, L-L League and District Three 5A titles this spring, will continue his career at George Mason

At QB, Young strengthens arm in fall, then lights up radar gun in the spring

Last fall, Nate Young made a decision which now looks like a big step in his baseball career.

As a senior, the left-handed pitcher played quarterback for the Ephrata football team.

“I was throwing, like, 50 to 100 passes every single day,” Young said. “That has to help build your arm strength. I don’t see what else it could do.”

The proof was a spike in his pitching velocity in the off-season, which contributed in large part to an eye-opening final year on the diamond. All he did was lead Ephrata’s pitching staff with seven wins and 94 strikeouts, helping the Mounts win the Section Two, L-L League and District Three 5A championships.

It didn’t go unnoticed by Division-One coaches.

The University of Pitt, George Mason University, and UMBC were among his suitors.

And last Thursday night, Young — a member of Ephrata’s Class of 2018 — made it official, giving a verbal commitment to continue his career at George Mason in the Atlantic-10 Conference.

In Young, the Mounts now have two Division-One recruits from their roster this spring. Pitcher/outfielder Adam Schwartz earlier signed with the University of Connecticut.

“It came down to them and Pitt,” said Young, who will sign a national letter of intent electronically in the near future. “I think financially, Mason was the better offer so that’s kinda why I chose to go there.”

The Patriots also happened to be one of the first Division-One schools to contact Young during his meteoric rise as a senior. Previously, he was talking mostly with local schools like DeSales and Messiah.

But then on April 30, the 6-foot-3, 176-pound lefty cemented his status as a Division-One prospect when he whiffed a jaw-dropping 16 batters in six no-hit innings in a 5-3 win over Lampeter-Strasburg.

Looking back, his start against the Pioneers was probably his favorite outing of the spring.

“It was the first game where it all kinda started that coaches were coming out to see me,” Young recalled. “I wanted to see how I’d do with them there and I ended up performing really well.”

George Mason assistant Brian Pugh, who recruited Young, no doubt gave him high marks.

In turn, the Patriots also made a positive impression on Young, who visited the Fairfax, Va. campus during the season.

“Pitching Division-One, it’s not (an incredibly) big deal, but it’s something I wanted to do,” said Young, who also pitched for the State champion Ephrata Chryslers Legion team last summer which advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament. “When this started happening, it was in the back of my mind. So that’s one thing — I’ll be able to play in a pretty cool conference against some good teams. I like it academically, it’s a really good business school, so those were two big reasons. And I love the coaching staff there.”

Under the direction of skipper Bill Brown, George Mason recovered from an 0-8 start to reach the Atlantic 10 championship game this season, where they suffered a 5-0 loss to Saint Louis. In the MLB Draft held June 4-6, Patriot pitchers Zach Mort and Bryce Nightengale were selected by the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics, respectively.

“I wanted it to be a good program,” Young admitted. “I didn’t want to go to a Division-One school where they don’t have a shot at all.”

Young gave himself a shot to be noticed, of course, by improving his velocity in the off-season. There’s usually a “shutdown period” for him in the fall, so by playing football for the Mounts and continuing to throw, he extended his normal routine. He also did a lot of work on the weights.

Not long afterward in the winter, Young was seeing improved velocity firing a baseball.

“It was noticeable, but we never really clocked how hard,” he said, “and when the season finally started, you could see on the radar gun how hard I was throwing. That set things in motion to get all these looks.”

His fastball was hitting the high-80s, but that wasn’t the only thing impressing on-lookers.

“The games I pitched (in front of) a lot of the coaches showed that I could also pitch, not just throw a fastball,” Young said.

His repertoire included not only an improved fastball, but a nasty slider and curveball which Young could also throw for strikes.

“Having those secondary and third pitches are really helpful,” he said. “Those are my go-tos if my fastball isn’t working.”

While helping Ephrata advance to the PIAA playoffs, Young mixed in an occasional change-up, but it wasn’t as effective as he’d have liked. Looking ahead to playing at George Mason, he wants to work to develop his change as a fourth pitch.

“It’s usually a big difference-maker between a good pitcher and a great pitcher at that level,” Young said. “Throwing first-pitch strikes (is another goal). There’s no pitch count in college, but there was one in high school, and I’d reach my limit a lot. I wanted to finish a game, that was one of my goals, and I would just throw a lot of pitches.”

Despite filling out a questionnaire and talking to a Texas Rangers scout this spring, he wasn’t surprised when his name wasn’t called in the MLB Draft.

“I only saw him at the one game,” Young said, “so I wasn’t really expecting to get drafted this year.”

If all goes well, he might see more scouts during his career at George Mason.

“Once Legion finishes up, I can’t wait for the fall season,” Young said. “I’m really excited for it.”

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