Jacob Engel is a junior at Cathedral Prep, who has attended the school since his freshman year. Engel is one of the top pitchers in the state for both the Cathedral Prep baseball team and his travel team, the Erie Steelheads. He attended Harbor Creek in middle school before coming to Prep and is looking at a wide variety of colleges, mainly big athletic schools in the Power Five conferences.
Jacob is looking into finances and journalism for his majors. Like most middle schools, Harbor Creek helped prepare Jacob for both the athletic and academic features of high school.
“I came from Harbor Creek, and [going there] prepared me because it kind of got me used to the work that we were going to expect,” Jacob said, “[Things like] hanging around everyone, being around people, and the work that just needs to be done [to prepare].”
Jacob also has a couple of teachers that have helped show him how the life of college works; the fact that you must be on task and turn in your work on time or it’s a bad grade has made its presence known to Engel since his freshman year.
“I think like Mr. Achille helps a lot because he’s kind of a teacher you’d expect [in college],” Jacob said, “He has the mentality that, ‘you got to get your work done; you got to do it.’ I also think Mr. Haller is the same way because he’ll give you work, and he’ll expect you to get it done. If it’s not done, then it’s a zero. You have to get in your work, and that’s just how it has to be with most teachers.”
Jacob used to enjoy playing multiple sports until baseball became his main sport. However, an experience while playing for another sport showed him that, in his opinion, baseball was his only way out.
“It was around sixth to seventh grade, because I was playing basketball on the junior high team,” Jacob said. “Afterward, I quit the team because I didn’t really like the coaching, and that’s when I realized baseball was going to be it for me; basically a make or break.”
Engel’s favorite baseball team is the reigning World Series champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. While watching L.A. for many years, there have been a multitude of different pitchers he’s looked up to, such as future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw.
He mentioned the influence of watching Kershaw and Walker Buehler from the Dodgers.
“It’s just kind of how they go about their things in the right way,” he said. “They’re both pitchers, and I kind of imitate them in a way in like how I do things myself.”
It’s no secret that Jacob has not just emerged as one of the best pitchers in his conference but probably one of the best in state. Engel has won four of his five appearances on the mound, going 19.1 innings with no earned runs and 25 strikeouts while allowing just five hits and eight walks. And once Engel gets into his groove, it’s a scary sight for opposing hitters.
According to Jacob, he feels the rhythm in all his pitches to do what he does best.
“it’s not really one single pitch,” he said. “And where you kind of feel that rhythm, it’s not really a ‘where’ you feel it, it’s more of like a ‘when’ you feel it. I see it as a motivation thing for me, because when I go out on the mound, I know I’m going to go out there and be the best there is. I go out there and act like that, and that’s when I know I’m ready to go.”
Just like any sports, there are a ton of pre- or post-game rituals that players have, along with their own sports superstitions. Jacob’s pre-game ritual is more important to him more than anyone could ever imagine.
“The only one [ritual] I have is after I’ve thrown my seventh pitch in every warmup,” Jacob said. “I throw the ball to second base and take a knee on the mound as a tribute to my sister. I’m just letting her know that I’m thinking about her.”
Family runs deep with Jacob, as his attributes his inner strength and will to get better and succeed to the inspiration of both his late sister, Sarah, and his hard-working father, Lawrence
“There isn’t really no one particular person except my dad,” Engel said, “One hundred percent. I see my dad every day. He works his butt off every day for what he does. He comes home, sweating and tired every day from working a blue-collar job, and I just want to embody his work ethic one day. That’s who pushes me athletically and academically.”