Former UND pitcher Zach Muckenhirn makes his MLB debut with the Mets

Former UND hurler relieves Max Scherzer and throws 1.2 innings of relief against Detroit

MLB: Game Two-New York Mets at Detroit Tigers
New York Mets relief pitcher Zach Muckenhirn (71) throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning at Comerica Park. Muckenhirn, a former UND standout, made his MLB debut. He becomes the first UND player to reach leagues. Lon Horwedel / USA TODAY Sports
Lon Horwedel/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

DETROIT - Former UND pitcher Zach Muckenhirn made his Major League debut with the New York Mets on Wednesday, becoming the first player in UND history to reach the big leagues.

And his debut comes seven years after UND cut the baseball program.

Muckenhirn came out of the bullpen to relieve starter Max Scherzer in the fourth inning of the Mets’ game at Detroit. He allowed only one hit in his 1.2 innings of work.

Muckenhirn’s debut also served as a milestone for UND athletics.

UND now can claim its athletic program has had at least one athlete reach the four core major leagues – MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL.


The Mets called up Muckenhirn from Triple AAA Syracuse on Monday.

Muckenhirn, a 28-year-old from Delano, Minn.,played his final college season for UND as a junior in 2015-16. UND announced it was cutting the baseball program during the middle of that season.

After visiting with numerous Power 5 programs to possibly play his final college year elsewhere, Muckenhirn elected to turn pro.

"I feel comfortable knowing that a North Dakota uniform is the last college uniform that I'll put on," Muckenhirn told the Herald in 2016.

At AAA Syracuse, Muckenhirn has pitched in six games this season. In 11.2 innings, he has four strikeouts and holds a 0.77 earned-run average

Muckenhirn was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 11th round in 2016, marking a distinction as the highest draft pick in UND baseball history and breaking a mark that stood since 1968 when Alex Cooley was taken in the 17th round by the Oakland A's.

It has been a long road from the draft to the big leagues.

In his last year with the Orioles organization in 2019, Muckenhirn showed success in AA with a 3.21 ERA across 37 games and later was briefly promoted to AAA that season.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, Muckenhirn played in the Puerto Rico Winter League. Over 11 outings in 2020, he had a 0.73 ERA.

That showing led Muckenhirn to the Chicago White Sox in 2021 where he generated a 1.77 ERA over about 40 innings at AA. Muckenhirn played 2022 with the White Sox organization again, producing a 3.11 ERA over 47 games at AAA.

Muckenhirn signed with the Mets after the 2022 season.

His coach at UND, Jeff Dodson, was on hand to watch his former player make his debut at Comerica Park.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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