West Virginia-Bound Kirn ‘A Bright Spot’ For Mariners

by Brad Joyal

HARWICH – When the pressure is on and the lights are the brightest, Harwich Mariners manager Steve Englert is comfortable putting the ball in Griffin Kirn’s hand.

After a brief stint with the Mariners last summer, Kirn has made an impact for the team’s pitching staff this season. He’s 1-0 in four starts with a 2.18 ERA, allowing six runs (five earned), striking out 13 and walking five in 20 and two-thirds innings.

“He’s been a bright spot in our rotation,” Englert said. “He was with us last year and is battle tested. He goes out and competes and nothing phases him. He’s as even-keeled as they come. He fills up the strike zone and will give you four or five [innings] every night. He’s a great kid. I really like having him around here.”

Kirn tossed five and one-third scoreless innings during two relief appearances for Harwich last summer. This summer is especially exciting for the 6-foot-3 lefty from Quincy, Ill., as he prepares to transfer from Division II Quincy University to West Virginia University, a nationally-ranked Division I program that reached the NCAA Super Regionals this spring.

“They wanted me to come here and prove that I can get D-I hitters out,” Kirn said. “Hopefully I can go there and start and help them go back to the Super Regional and hopefully Omaha.”

The WVU coaching staff instructed Kirn to work on his fastballs to right-handed batters as well as his changeup command. He earned a no decision on Saturday after allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits in six innings during Harwich’s 6-3 loss to Yarmouth-Dennis.

Kirn hit the ground running with a victory in Harwich’s 13-2 season-opening win over Cotuit on June 15, but staying fresh wasn’t easy for the lefty. More than a month had passed since his last outing for Quincy on May 12.

“It was very tough,” Kirn said. “I was constantly working to build it back up. I took a week and a half off at the end of the season and then got back into throwing and facing live batters to get ready for here.”

While he’s been a key competitor for Harwich’s staff through four starts, Kirn hopes his Cape League experience continues to yield strong results before he begins his next chapter with the Mountaineers.

“It’s been awesome,” he said. “My goal coming out here was to pitch good and bring that momentum to WVU so I can contribute to that great program they have there.”