PNG’s Hranicky makes his own name … and number

Published 8:14 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

PORT NECHES — Like C.C. Sabathia, Josh Hranicky is a left-handed pitcher.

Hranicky said his pitching coach from his younger days compared the two.

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“Back when I was young, he told me I look like C.C. Sabathia when I threw,” the Port Neches-Groves junior said. “He told me I had the same WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) percentage and everything, so I started wearing 52 when I was young, and I tried to replicate myself after him.”

PNG’s baseball jersey numbers don’t go higher than 30, so the third-year varsity player has made do with that numeral.

And the majority of those who’ve batted against No. 30 have been given fits.

Hranicky is 9-2 with a 2.01 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. His ERA in District 22-5A play was 0.96, even.

And his 1.456 WHIP, by the way, almost matches the 4-2 Sabathia’s 1.401 this season.

“He throws the ball with a great velocity,” PNG coach Scott Carter said. “For right now, command can be an issue from time to time. He’s just working on getting dedicated, more into what he needs to be doing to be more repetitious to live in the zone. But he’s doing a great job for us, and he’s one of our go-to guys all year long.”

Carter hasn’t settled on a starter for PNG’s first 5A Region III semifinal game vs. Tomball on Friday night, although Hranicky has had the Game 1 honors in the past three series. He’s 2-1 in the playoffs (16 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings), but when he gets the nod, he’ll be coming off his first defeat since his first start against La Porte on Feb. 23.

“I always keep my head straight and know that I am a good pitcher and that obviously I can do it, just put my mind right and go back and do the same stuff I’ve been doing all year,” Hranicky said, hoping to rebound from a 2 1/3-inning outing against Barbers Hill.

Hranicky went 3-0 in eight appearances last year, winning two of his starts and posting a 2.06 ERA with a low 0.647 WHIP. That helped him earn a scholarship offer to Lamar, whom he verbally committed to.

There was no pressure for Hranicky to perform well this year knowing he had a Division I offer, he said.

“As much as thinking I can get somewhere else, I grew up here and this is where I live,” Hranicky said, asked about settling on Lamar. “All the people that watched me grow up have seen me with all my success [and] can watch me there. Seeing all these kids look up to me, they can come see me whenever they want, and it gives them something to look up to.”

Youngsters are looking up to a gentle giant, according to Lamar signee and PNG teammate Logan LeJeune.

“You look at him, and he’s a massive guy,” said LeJeune, who played football with the 6-foot-3, 270-pound offensive guard.

“In football, you’d think he’s one of the meanest guys on the field because he’s so big. When you get to know him, he’s like a big teddy bear, friendly with everybody. He’s never down, and if he is, he gets right back up to make sure it doesn’t show off to anybody. He wants everyone to be happy and everyone to be in the best mood. I’m ready to play with him for a few more years.”

Hranicky’s personality easily shone during player introductions for Saturday’s Game 3 vs. Barbers Hill in Crosby. He was the only player on either team to shake the umpires’ hands.

“I always go out there and shake umpires’ hands because they deserve the respect that they’re putting the time in, and I’m always wanting to get those calls to me,” Hranicky said. “I think if I deserve the same respect, I should give it to them by shaking their hands and tell them they did a good job and have a good day.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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