McAfee on the mound

Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of the Big Red Sports Network, which provides excellent Cornell sports coverage throughout the year for alumni, parents, students and fans everywhere.

Ithaca, NY — Big Red starting pitcher and senior team captain Brian McAfee has committed to join the Duke Blue Devils of the ACC following his senior season at Cornell.

Making use of an Ivy League rule that prevents athletes from playing past their graduation date despite having eligibility, McAfee was able to gain admittance to graduate school at Duke and will join the Blue Devils’ pitching staff.

McAfee missed most of the 2014 season for the Big Red with a back injury that made him eligible for a red shirt. As a result, the upcoming 2015 season will mark his third full season as a college athlete, allowing him to play one additional season away from East Hill.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, and I look forward to the challenge of competing against some big name teams in the ACC,” said McAfee. “I’m fortunate that they also have such a great one year Masters in Management program that allows me to continue my education.”

The 6’2” right hander credits Head Coach Bill Walkenbach with helping to bring about the opportunity of joining the Blue Devils following his final season in a Cornell uniform.

“He got my name out there to several different schools and was really helpful in finding somewhere suitable for me to both play baseball and take graduate classes,” McAfee said.

In two plus seasons for the Big Red, McAfee has been a fixture atop the rotation year in and year out. Rising to the role of ace through his freshman year, the McAfee is 10-3 throughout his career with the Big Red.

Although McAfee is not known for his velocity, his ability to throw four pitches for strikes has allowed him to become one of the most dominant pitchers in the Ivy League. His control makes him a factor deep into ball games as evidenced by his consistently high inning totals in his two full seasons with the Big Red.

With the Blue Devils, it is still unclear whether he will garner a weekend starting role like he has held with the Big Red or will serve more as a reliever and receive occasional spot starts.

“I’m hoping to step up and contribute to whatever role they envision me taking on. They have a lot of innings going out the door so it gives us newcomers a lot of great opportunities,” said McAfee.

Despite the recent commitment to Duke, McAfee remains fully focused on helping the Big Red compete for a title this season.

“I hope to be able to contribute however I can to winning a ring,” said the right-hander of his goals for the upcoming season. “Making it to Regionals [in 2012] was the highlight of my Cornell experience and I want all of the underclassmen to be able to experience that as well.”

Fans of both the Big Red and the Blue Devils will be happy to know that McAfee is back in good health and the back injury that kept him out for most of last season is no longer a factor.

Asked how he was feeling throughout fall workouts McAfee responded:“fantastic, I don’t feel like an old man anymore.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.