Pirate Alum Debuts in the Big Leagues

Reaching the pinnacle of one's chosen profession takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and the right opportunity coming along at the right time. For former Armstrong Atlantic State University pitcher Jeremy Horst, the years of giving it all to the sport of baseball finally paid off with a golden opportunity to make the major leagues.

Just mere hours after officially joining the active roster of the Cincinnati Reds, Horst made his major league debut against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, May 27th at Turner Field a truly memorable one.

The Burlington, N.D., native learned late Friday afternoon that he would be a member of the Reds, becoming the second Major League Baseball player to hail from Armstrong, and less than 24 hours later he was on the mound facing the Braves in a tie ball game.

Entering the game with the score tied 5-5 in the fourth inning, Horst immediately struck out Jordan Schafer, then one out later, struck out Chipper Jones to work a 1-2-3 first inning of major league work.

It was the top half of the fifth that made things more memorable for the former Pirate, however, as Horst came to the plate and stroked an RBI single through the right side for a hit in his first major league at-bat, giving the Reds a 6-5 lead.

In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Horst fell victim to All-Star catcher Brian McCann, who hit a solo home run off of him to tie the game back up at 6. Horst was relieved in the sixth inning with a runner on third and two out, giving him the impressive line of 2 2/3 innings pitched and two hits given up, striking out four.

View the video of his major league debut on his official MLB player bio page. Also get the story of his first day as a major leaguer on MLB's official website.

Horst was selected in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Reds in the 21st round. In his two years with the Pirates in 2006 and 2007, the 6-3, 220-pound lefthander went 8-2 with 102 strikeouts in 96.2 innings pitched after joining Armstrong from Iowa Western CC.

He's excelled at every level of the minors for the Reds organization since being drafted, culminating in his outstanding 2011 season so far. Pitching for the AAA Louisville Bats, Horst is 0-1 with a 1.73 ERA in 12 games this year, giving up just 16 hits in 26 innings pitched, walking nine and striking out 23.

Horst joins former Armstrong hurler and eight-year major leaguer Adam Bernero as the only Pirates to earn a ticket to the big leagues. Bernero made his major league debut in 2000 - just 15 months after being signed as a free agent by the Detroit Tigers. The Pirates have had six players in all play at least the AAA level in the last decade - along with Horst and Bernero, pitchers Doug Sessions, Jeremy Wedel and Jason Olson, as well as catcher Andrew Graham have all reached the penultimate level of pro baseball. A seventh, Armstrong signee Dustin McGowan, has spent time over the last six years with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Success for former Pirates also extends internationally as former Armstrong pitcher Leon Boyd represented the Netherlands in both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Graham also represented his native Australia in the World Baseball Classic.

Armstrong Atlantic State University's baseball program has enjoyed tremendous success throughout the years, earning three NCAA Division II College World Series berths and twice in 1989 and 1990 ending the year as the nation's No. 1-ranked team. Head coach Joe Roberts, the NCAA's winningest active Division II head coach, has compiled an 1,250-617 (.673) record record in 32 seasons at the helm of the Pirate program and his teams have earned 12 NCAA Regional berths in the past 24 seasons and are the second-winningest Division II program since 1983.