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Mounds View senior righthanded pitcher Tyler Guerin peers in for the sign after smoothing the dirt on the mound with his cleats. He overpowers a hitter with his 94-mph fastball, then makes the next batter look silly with three consecutive sliders for a strikeout.

At 6-7 and 210 pounds, Guerin stands tall in the batter's box with an open stance. A lefthanded hitter, he turns quickly on a fastball and rips it into right field for a double.

The outstanding two-way player has the Mustangs returning to the Class 4A state tournament for the second consecutive year and is the Star Tribune's Metro Player of the Year in baseball.

"Tyler's baseball speaks for itself; just come out to a game and you'll see," Mounds View coach Nik Anderson said. "He's the type of guy that from the first pitch he throws or swing he takes, you can tell there's something extra special there."

Guerin has a special bond with his older brother, Blake, and will follow in his footsteps to Iowa. Blake was also an outstanding player for Mounds View and just completed his sophomore season at first base for the Hawkeyes.

Tyler Guerin indicates the runner is out at first base during a section tournament game against Maple Grove.
Tyler Guerin indicates the runner is out at first base during a section tournament game against Maple Grove.

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

"I've always been told I'm in his shadow, but I don't buy into that," Guerin said. "I have a really good relationship with him. I'm super comfortable with him and I can bounce stuff off of him when we talk weekly. He's someone I look up to."

Just as his Mustangs teammates look up to Tyler Guerin. He is the ace of the pitching staff after shoulder trouble kept him from throwing much last season. He will get the call for either the first or second game when the Mustangs (18-8) open state tournament play. The first-round game is Thursday against Minnetonka (17-7) at CHS Field in St. Paul.

"There's a thread of joy that runs through Tyler," Anderson said. "He knows he's done the work, so confidence isn't something he has to forge. It's just there."

Guerin is accustomed to getting the nod against the state's best. Anderson has called on him against state tournament entrants Farmington (24-3) and East Ridge (18-6); Suburban East Conference foes Cretin-Derham Hall (14-10), White Bear Lake (13-10) and Woodbury (13-11); Maple Grove (11-11); and section runners-up Stillwater (18-7) and Rogers (15-9) twice. Stillwater and East Ridge also play in the Suburban East.

"Our conference is one of the best in the state," said Guerin, who throws four-seam and two-seam fastballs, a changeup and that slider. "It's so fun because there are no games you can let up. You have to be ready to compete every game or they are going to come up and bite you. You have to be at your best all year."

He threw little last season because of shoulder inflammation. "It was upsetting last year not having a chance to throw," Guerin said. "I wanted to pitch and help my team."

This season he's in the middle of matters. Guerin is 5-2, holding the opposition to a .205 batting average. He has struck out 59 in 42 innings. In his two losses, Guerin lost to Farmington 3-1 and White Bear Lake 1-0.

"Obviously there will be a gap in our rotation and lineup next year, but I'm not concerned with that," Anderson said. "The bigger gap will be what we lose in his leadership and the joy he brings to Mustang baseball."

The Mustangs' lackluster offense, tied for 20th (5.2 runs per game) in Class 4A, has Guerin as a leadoff hitter. He is batting .395 despite being pitched around (17 walks) with 22 runs scored and 20 RBI. He has stolen five bases.

A three-year starter, he is hitting over .402 for his career. He tied a personal-best .412 last season.

"I have received multiple comments from opponents letting me know they are certainly ready for Tyler to graduate," Anderson said.

Anderson said Guerin's work ethic separates him even from other marquee players.

"Clearly he's blessed to have a tall, whippy frame, but that's not what makes him great," Anderson said. "It's the unseen work he does day in and day out to get the most out of his God-given size and skill set. We see it all the time, kids falling short of their ceiling because they have so much natural talent that they don't need to work as hard to be successful. Tyler sits on the opposite side of the spectrum. He knows he has something unique and refuses to squander it. His work ethic is why he rises up to the moment time and time again."