South Carolina to Morgantown with a stop in Cape Cod: Jace Rinehart set to cap his college career at WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After three successful seasons at USC-Upstate, Jace Rinehart wasn’t looking to leave the South Carolina school for his final season of college eligibility. However, plans changed for the 2021 North Marion High School graduate when Upstate head coach Mike McGuire departed for Winthrop.

“I wasn’t planning on transferring this year. But when my head coach left, I decided to and got the opportunity to take a visit back to West Virginia,” Rinehart said. “And I decided it was the right place for me.”

Rinehart announced his decision on Friday to transfer to West Virginia for his senior season and play for first-year head coach Steve Sabins.

“I think the best part was kind of rekindling a relationship that had been established in the past. [Sabins] knew who I was and we had talked before out of high school. I think just coming back and getting to know him again was really good.

“I just really loved the blue-collar mentality, the hard work and the work ethic of the whole team. You can just tell that the players work hard and the coaches work hard.”

Rinehart is a two-time All-Big South Conference selection as an outfielder. He played in all 60 games this season for Upstate (36-24). The junior outfielder batted .366 with 17 home runs and 59 runs batted in. His batting average was third-best in the Big South. Rinehart also led the conference in hits (94), doubles (22) and total bases (173).

“Last summer is when it really clicked with me that I could compete at this level. I always knew I was there and I always knew I was making consistent improvements in myself. But it wasn’t until last summer when things really clicked together.”

Rinehart led North Marion to unprecedented success in the 2021 season. The Huskies advanced to the state championship game for the first time in school history.

“The memories that stick with me the most are just the friendships and the relationships with Coach [Vic] Seccuro, getting to play for my dad as a coach. Those memories last a lifetime.”

As with most top-level college baseball players, Rinehart’s offseason has been short. He is competing in the Cape Cod League, a 10-team league in Eastern Massachusetts that hosts some of the best professional prospects in the country every year. Rinehart plays for the Wareham Gatemen.

“It is awesome. We are playing every day. It is just a bunch of guys showing up. I keep telling people it is the best players in the country and they show up, hang out and have a good time and play baseball. Everybody up here makes it look easy. So it is really fun.

“There’s fans for us that will travel for every game we play across the Cape and follow us. There’s people with baseball cards with my picture on it that say, ‘Cape Cod League’. They made them themselves.”

Entering Wednesday’s game, Wareham stands first in the Cape Cod Western Division with a 7-2 record. Rinehart is batting .300 with five runs scored in eight games. At Upstate, Rinehart played in all 60 of his team’s games in 2024.

“It is a goal of mine to play every game possible. Even up here at the Cape, I have only not played in one game, which is pretty rare. It is important for me to play in as many games as possible.

“I have a little wristband on my wrist that says, ‘Opening Day is every day’. I take that to heart.”

Future WVU teammate Sam White is also on the Wareham roster. White joined the team on Tuesday and hit a home run in his opening game.

“It is awesome to get to know someone I am going to play with in the next year a little bit early and get a feel for the team dynamic and him as a person. We have really gotten to know each other pretty well in the last couple days.”

Teams in the Cape Cod League usually get one or two days off in a week. So far, Rinehart’s lone off day was time well-spent.

“The one off day I had, I went to a Boston Red Sox game. They walked it off and it was really cool. We had centerfield seats and got to see a really good game.”

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