Meet the Jackfish: Jake Harford
Just one look was all it took for Jake Harford to know he wanted to be a member of the Welland Jackfish.
“From the second I came up here last year, the first time I played here I fell in love with the ballpark,” the 28-year-old pitcher said. “The atmosphere is awesome, the fans are awesome and Ryan (team president Ryan Harrison) does an awesome job making this the place to be.”
Harford, who resides in Buffalo, has been Welland’s top pitcher this season with a 10-2 record and 2.63 earned run average heading into Thursday’s game versus Hamilton.
“The team this year has been more than I could have hoped for. I’m doing my part, ya, but they make me look good,” Harford said.
Jackfish manager Brian Essery is a big fan of the talented right-hander.
“We know every time he’s out there he’s going to give us a chance to win. He’s 10-2 so he’s had a lot of success,” Essery said.
Essery also loves Harford’s approach on the mound.
“He pounds the zone. He’s not afraid to attack guys and he puts the ball in play and still gets strikeouts but he’s not out there looking to get strikeouts,” Essery said. “His defence is always in the game because he doesn’t walk too many guys and is always putting the ball in play.”
Harford said there was a time in his career he was more of a thrower than a pitcher.
“That’s something over the years I really had to hammer into my brain,” said Harford, who pitched collegiately at the University of Fredonia. “I’m a pitching coach and a lot of what I do is remind kids of things like that based on the mistakes I made in my life.”
Harford, who works as a pitching coach at a private high school in Buffalo and also gives private lessons, feels he is a student of the game.
“I’m almost 29 and I feel more like a vet. I’ve learned those lessons and that’s one of the big ones, not giving 100 per cent on every pitch. It’s not necessary,” he said. “It pays off too if I get to two strikes and I still have a little more I can give on my fastball.”
Harford, who grew up in Silver Creek, a small town south of Buffalo, didn’t have much guidance on the field in his younger years.
“I grew up with no coaching. I was kind of oblivious to the whole baseball scene,” he said. “I went to college and learned a ton. Based on the fact I didn’t have coaching growing up, chasing knowledge myself kind of drives me and that plays into what I do now coaching.”
Harford had a brief stint in independent ball, but quickly saw the writing on the wall.
“I didn’t really chase the dream that hard. I kind of got my life started,” he said. “I’m really glad to be here. This is perfect.”
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