Jake Guty thought his high school baseball career had ended after the 2021 season.
If it had, that conclusion would have come on a good note. The pitcher-shortstop from Bucksport High School not only was named to the All-Penobscot Valley Conference first team last spring, he pitched a no-hitter with 18 strikeouts in his final start on the mound, a victory against George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill in the Class C North quarterfinals.
Guty, who had moved to the area from Florida in 2019 before his sophomore year of high school, still needed two credits to graduate last June and decided that rather than take summer classes to complete those requirements he would return to school for the full 2021-22 academic year.
Guty also had a season of athletic eligibility remaining from his time in Florida, and after an appeal to the Maine Principals’ Association in March he was declared eligible for the 2022 high school baseball season.
“Until that day, March 9, I thought my high school baseball career was done,” he said.
Now Guty is making the most of the opportunity both on the mound and in the middle of the Golden Bucks’ lineup.
The righthander improved his pitching record to 3-0 on Monday as the top-ranked Golden Bucks, now 7-1, rallied past defending Class C state champion Orono 4-3.
It was Guty’s toughest test so far this spring, a complete-game four-hitter with 11 strikeouts and three walks — all of which turned into runs for the second-seeded Red Riots, now 4-3.
Guty also helped coach Josh Jackson’s club rally from a 2-0 deficit with a two-run single in the top of the sixth inning that drove home Kaleb Nightingale and Tyler Hallett with the go-ahead runs.
“They’re a tough team,” Guty said of the Red Riots. “They’ve got a good coach and good ballplayers, but we just battled through it.”
That battling spirit also could be said of the hard-throwing Guty, who has mixed a fastball clocked in the mid- to upper 80s with an assortment of off-speed deliveries to keep most hitters around eastern Maine hard-pressed to remain on balance in the batter’s box over the last two seasons.
Guty has yielded just five hits and four runs in 18 innings so far this spring with 32 strikeouts and 10 walks, and already has a 16-strikeout no-hitter against Dexter to his credit.
“He’s always around the plate, and we know that when he’s out there that he’s going to battle,” Jackson said. “He’s not going to back down from anybody, nobody’s getting a free pass. They’re going to have to work for whatever they get and from a coaching standpoint you can’t ask for anything else from a pitcher.”
Guty also has been an offensive force from the third spot in Bucksport’s batting order, leading the team with a .567 batting average after his 3-for-4 day at Orono. He also has team-leading totals of 17 hits, 24 total bases, nine runs batted in and 12 stolen bases in as many attempts.
“Jake’s just got such a baseball mind,” Jackson said. “He’s got such an IQ and there’s really no situation that’s too big for him. Nothing stresses him out whether he’s on the mound or at the plate, and that’s a huge asset for us.”
Guty teams with fellow senior pitcher-shortstop Ty Giberson, who has yet to allow an earned run in 17 innings this spring, to give Bucksport one of the top 1-2 pitching punches in the region, and the duo hopes to lead a Bucksport team that has outscored its opposition 65-9 through the midpoint of the regular season deep into postseason play.
Bucksport last won the Class C North championship in 2015.
“The [expectations] are pretty big,” said Guty, who plans to continue his baseball career at Husson University in the fall. “We’re just going to try to keep on a roll, play our game and rack up the ‘W’s.”