W&J Baseball Looks To Repeat Success In 2013
WASHINGTON, Pa. - The Washington & Jefferson College baseball team appears primed to defend its Presidents’ Athletic Conference regular-season title when it begins the 2013 season on March 9.
W&J is coming off the best season in program history when it broke school records for victories (36) and conference wins (21), while earning a bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the third time in the last four years. The Presidents rose to as high as No. 14 in the national polls and claimed an 8-0 victory over Wooster at the NCAA Mideast Regional for their third NCAA Tournament win in history.
Eight position players who played in at least 30 games and seven pitchers who made a minimum of eight appearances return to the roster for the Presidents, who are ranked 20th in the preseason by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Led by First Team All-PAC choices Kyle McLain (East Amherst, N.Y./Canisius) and Josh Staniscia (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional), 11th-year Head Coach Jeff Mountain’s team features eight players who earned conference accolades in 2012.
Staniscia, a junior right fielder, led the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in hits (67), total bases (102) and triples (8). He owns a .377 career batting average along with 78 runs scored and 61 runs batted in during 84 games. Staniscia has also displayed his speed on the base paths with 25 stolen bases and 11 career triples, one shy of the W&J record. In the field, Staniscia has made just one error in 168 chances for a .994 fielding percentage.
McLain enjoyed a breakout season while starting all 46 games at third base. The junior batted .391, the sixth-highest mark in the PAC, and knocked in 38 runs, while scoring 35 times. He also stole 10 bases and recorded six extra-base hits. The right-hander could also see some innings as the team’s closer on the mound this season.
At the opposite corner of the infield, juniors D.J. Michalski (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) and Tyler Schultz (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville) will likely see a majority of the playing time at first base. Michalski posted the squad’s top on-base percentage for the Presidents (.478) and knocked in 13 runs, while Schultz batted .311 and tied for second on the team with nine doubles. Schultz will also see innings as a catcher and designated hitter.
The Presidents’ middle infield will be led by senior second baseman Scott Liller (Moon Township, Pa./Moon). Liller started the final 43 games and hit .322 with 14 RBI, while posting a .424 on-base percentage. Junior Matt Fry (State College, Pa./State College), who appeared in eight games last spring, is expected to push Liller for innings at second base. The coaching staff also expects freshman Anthony Paladino (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) to be in the mix for playing time. Following the graduation of ABCA/Rawlings National Gold Glove Award winner Aaron Klinec, senior Michael Beerman (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and sophomore Kyle Smith (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) will compete for playing time at shortstop. Beerman has appeared in 22 games during his first three seasons, while Smith hit .400 in limited playing time as a freshman. Freshman Mike Ruffing (Brunswick, Ohio/St. Ignatius) enjoyed a strong fall season and has earned innings as well.
Two-year starter Scott Brady (Allison Park, Pa./Hampton) returns for his final season as the Presidents’ center fielder. The senior recorded a career-best 36 hits and 20 runs batted in last season, while stealing five bases. Defensively, Brady owns a .987 career fielding percentage, having made just two errors in 151 chances. Staniscia and junior Matt Boronsky (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) also have displayed the speed to play in center field and could see time.
Junior Derek McIlvaine (Washington, Pa./Chartiers-Houston) will have a chance to play in left field after spending last season as the team’s primary designated hitter. McIlvaine collected 25 hits and 21 RBI, while slugging .318 in 32 games. Boronsky will also see time in the left field, along with sophomores Cory Bauer (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood) and Dan Michael (Aliquippa, Pa./Central Valley). The speedy Boronsky appeared in 25 games and hit .364, while Bauer and Michael both made appearances in reserve roles during their rookie campaigns.
Behind the plate, Ronny Peirish (Wexford, Pa./Pine-Richland) returns for his junior year after starting 77 games during his first two seasons. He tied Staniscia for the team lead with three home runs, while adding 38 RBI and nine stolen bases. Peirish, who has also played left field and served as a designated hitter, owns a .975 fielding percentage and has thrown out 10 potential base stealers. The coaching staff also expects Schultz and sophomore Mark Wesolek (Bairdford, Pa./Deer Lakes) to receive some innings behind the dish. Wesolek, who missed his entire rookie season due to injury, also has the ability to play first base.
A number of different players will fill the designated hitter spot, including McIlvaine, Schultz and Peirish, junior Jordan Reiner (Beachwood, Ohio/Beachwood) and sophomore John Kutzfara (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward). The coaching staff also expects Reiner to compete for time as a corner infielder, while Kutzfara can play behind the plate and in the outfield.
Nearly all of the talented arms return to a pitching staff which ranked second in team earned run average (3.61) and strikeouts (242) among PAC teams last season. Those were the top marks posted by W&J since 2007 and 2009, respectively. This year’s starting rotation will be headlined by a trio of juniors. Eddie Nogay (Weirton, W. Va./Madonna) struck out 40 hitters, while posting the league’s second-lowest ERA at 2.01. He collected seven victories and three saves in 14 appearances (10 starts). During his career, Nogay is unbeaten in 10 decisions.
Classmates Brian O’Neill (Columbus, Ohio/St. Charles Prep) and Randy Risch (Grove City, Pa./Grove City) both earned five victories and look to be workhorses on the mound this spring. O’Neill fanned 27 batters in 37.2 innings, while opponents hit just .228 off Risch, the second-lowest mark in the league. Senior Corey Young (Finleyville, Pa./Ringgold) has also earned innings as a starting pitcher after finishing last season strong. He appeared in 14 games, all in relief, and posted a 3.52 ERA, while striking out 22. Junior Mike Vizzini (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and sophomores Jared Baird (East Freedom, Pa./Central) and Tyler Dean (Valencia, Pa./Mars) will also compete for starting pitching duties. Both Vizzini and Dean earned three victories last season, primarily in relief roles.
Junior Marc Rizzo (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) along with sophomores Alex Carr (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) and Nick Huffman (Clarks Mills, Pa./Commodore Perry) will all toe the rubber for W&J in varied roles this spring.
The coaching staff expects a number of the talented seven-man freshman class to push the upperclassmen and compete for playing time immediately.
The Presidents have put together a challenging non-conference schedule this spring, along with its annual tough PAC slate. Of the 11 teams on the non-conference docket, only one posted a sub-.500 record in 2012. W&J will also play Division I Bradley during its annual week-long Florida swing.
W&J opens the season with a three-game PAC series against Bethany beginning with a doubleheader at Bethany Park on March 9 (1:00 pm). The Presidents and Bison conclude the series the next day at Ross Memorial Park (1:00 pm).