06/12/12 — McKee says Saints' trio should thrive at Guilford Tech

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McKee says Saints' trio should thrive at Guilford Tech

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 12, 2012 1:46 PM

Competitive attitudes, desire, determination and willing to do what's necessary to help a team achieve success are difficult characteristics to find in one person these days.

Southern Wayne head coach Trae McKee had three baseball players -- Jeremy Taylor, Tyler Gainey and Jamie Dove -- who possessed those traits and more during their respective baseball careers in Dudley. Now, the trio looks to hone those abilities on the junior college baseball scene.

And they'll do it together.

Taylor, Dove and Gainey each signed a national letter-of-intent with Guilford Technical Community College, a Region X program that just completed its fifth season of Division I competition.

"I think it's a good program and it will give them a little taste of something different," McKee said. "I think it's good for kids to get away (from home) a little bit. I think they'll be comfortable playing together.

"Their program is headed in a direction that I think will be a really good fit for them. I think they can make an immediate impact and I'm excited that they have this opportunity."

The Titans are directed by head coach John Barrow and assisted by Mount Olive College alum Brent Haynes. Barrow started the Rockingham CC baseball program from scratch in 2000 before heading to GTCC, and Haynes played for Barrow before transferring to MOC.

Guilford Tech finished 17-27 this spring. Barrow has sent numerous players to four-year programs on the NCAA Divisions I, II and III levels; and the NAIA. The Titans had two Major League Baseball Amateur Draft picks in 2009.

Matt Dillon, a GTCC alum, helped lead Mount Olive to its third straight Conference Carolinas championship and to the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Regional. The Trojans concluded the year 44-10 overall.

"I'll do whatever they need me to do, I am not going to be too picky," Taylor said.

Taylor earned Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference co-pitcher-of-the-year accolades after posting a 1.19 earned run average (ERA). The right-hander finished 7-2 and fanned 71 opposing batters in 70.7 innings of work.

He threw the program's first postseason no-hitter since 2001 -- a 5-0 triumph over Northern Nash in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. Taylor walked the first batter, who was eventually retired on a double play. He faced the minimum number of hitters (21) for a seven-inning game.

Taylor brings a live fastball and good breaking pitch to the GTCC bullpen, but admits he needs to polish a change-up that he rarely used this spring.

"Adapting to college life, going to classes and studying on my own is going to be my biggest challenge," Taylor said. "Anything on the field I'm not worried about, will just have to work hard at it. That comes easier than schoolwork, which is a different story."

Gainey played the hot corner for the Saints and posted a sizzling .476 batting average. He cranked out 40 hits, drove in 20 RBI and struck out just eight times in 90-plus plate appearances.

McKee anticipates Gainey playing the infield and should see time in the lineup because of his hitting ability.

"I think I can go in there, get some playing time and do a lot of good things for the team," a confident Gainey said. "I need to give 100 percent the whole time. I need to field ground balls a little bit better and keep hitting like I have been."

Dove made tremendous gains in the outfield this spring.

His skill level started to catch up with his athleticism and proved that pound-for-pound, he's probably the strongest athlete at Southern Wayne. McKee said the sky's the limit for Dove.

"Coach McKee wanted us to go to the place that would be the most competitive for us and I think it's the best choice," Dove said. "I want to play and get better. I have to be more aggressive (offensively) and get more mature in the game."