W&J Baseball Looks To Return To NCAA Tournament Form In 2012
WASHINGTON, Pa. – The Washington & Jefferson College baseball team has its sights set on its third NCAA Division III Tournament appearance in the last four years entering the 2012 season.
The Presidents finished the 2011 regular season tied for first place in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference standings, but missed out on a third-straight NCAA Tournament bid after falling twice on the opening day of the PAC Conference Tournament.
Head Coach Jeff Mountain, who has led his teams to six postseason berths in nine seasons at W&J, must replace a number of key positions following the graduation of four all-conference players, including hard-hitting shortstop Joe Bogdewiecz, who ranks among the top offensive players in school history. The team will also have compensate offensively for the graduated Andy Trettel, who hit a team-high .347 in 39 games. In addition, the Presidents lost a pair of all-conference starting pitchers from the top of their rotation in Jordan Zivoder, who threw five complete games last spring, and Pat Kennedy.
While there has been plenty of turnover from last season’s squad, W&J brings back a talented sophomore class along with a strong nucleus of juniors and seniors. The Presidents’ current sophomore class accounted for nearly 40 percent of the team’s innings pitched (124.0-319.1) and at-bats (484-1,215) last season. Coach Mountain has also recruited a group of 13 newcomers, providing the squad with even more depth.
Senior right-handed pitcher Dave Trushel (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) owns a 16-9 career record with a 4.41 ERA in 40 appearances (26 starts). He has logged 181 2/3 innings and has struck out 99 batters, while throwing a trio of complete games and earning two saves. Trushel, a 2011 Division III Mideast Region Gold Glover, threw a school-record 12 innings against Saint Vincent last April 14th.
Joining Trushel at the top of the pitching rotation is sophomore right-hander Eddie Nogay (Weirton, W. Va./Madonna). Nogay earned Honorable Mention All-PAC accolades after posting a 3-0 record and 2.83 ERA in 13 appearances during his rookie season. Sophomore pitchers Brian O’Neill (Columbus, Ohio/St. Charles Prep) and Randy Risch (Grove City, Pa./Grove City) will both try to build upon solid rookie campaigns. Risch allowed just nine earned runs in 25.2 innings (3.16 ERA), while O’Neill appeared in 10 games, including a pair of starts.
Sophomores Chris Kosty (Woxford, Pa./Pine-Richland) and Marc Rizzo (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) and Mike Vizzini (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) along with junior Corey Young (Finleyville, Pa./Ringgold) will also see time on the mound in 2012. Talented freshmen Tyler Dean (Valencia, Pa./Mars Area) and Jared Baird (East Freedom, Pa./Central) should challenge for innings as well. The coaching staff is also hoping that junior lefty and former Duquesne transfer Christian Wheeler (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) can return to form following rehab from an injury.
The catcher position is one of the deepest positions on the team. Receiving the pitchers will be most likely sophomore Ronny Peirish (Wexford, Pa./Pine-Richland). Peirish knocked in 13 runs while appearing in 34 games, including 31 starts. He also threw out six potential base stealers. When he is not behind the plate, Peirish will field some innings in the outfield. The trio of junior Zach Podrasky (Houston, Pa./Chartiers Valley), sophomore Tyler Schultz (Strongsville, Ohio, Strongsville) and freshman Mark Wesolek (Bairdford, Pa./Deer Lakes) will also battle for playing time behind the dish as well as at first base.
Sophomore right fielder Josh Staniscia (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) will lead the offense after enjoying a standout season as a freshman. Staniscia earned First Team All-PAC laurels by hitting .347 with one home run and 19 RBI in 147 at bats last year. He was W&J’s team leader in hits (51), doubles (12), triples (3) and total bases (72) and racked up hitting streaks of seven, nine and 14 games.
Senior Brian Szabo (Hermitage, Pa./Hickory), junior Scott Brady (Allison Park, Pa./Hampton), sophomore Matt Boronsky (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) and freshman Cory Bauer (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood) will also receive time in the outfield. Brady paced the Presidents with two home runs and hit .318 a season ago, while Szabo is a career .284 hitter, having appeared in 109 games.
Slick-fielding senior Aaron Klinec (North Olmstead, Ohio/St. Ignatius) will move to shortstop after serving as a mainstay at second base during his first three seasons. Klinec has started 105 games and owns a .963 career fielding percentage. Juniors Michael Beerman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Vincentian) and Scott Liller (Moon Township, Pa./Moon) along with sophomore Matt Fry (State College, Pa./State College) will all see playing time at second base.
Sophomore Kyle McLain (East Amherst, N.Y./Canisius) will man third base, while sophomore D.J. Michalski (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) is the returner at the opposite corner. Michalski made 13 starts and collected seven base hits a year ago. McLain racked up 10 RBI and a .306 on base percentage in 31 games. Freshman Kyle Smith (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) will share some of the third base duties and has the ability to play second base as well. Senior Ryan Verlihay (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk) will serve as a compliment to Michalski at first base and a solid bat off the bench.
Newcomer Derek McIlvaine (Washington, Pa./Chartiers-Houston) is a candidate to be the Presidents’ designated hitter in his first season with the team after playing at NCAA Division II Ashland University as a freshman. He will compete with the catches as well as sophomore Gary Revale (Sharon, Pa./Sharon) for the starting spot in the lineup.
W&J opens the 2012 campaign with a doubleheader against La Roche on March 12th at Ross Memorial Park. After another home contest against Penn State-Behrend (Mar. 15), the Presidents will spend a week in Auburndale, Florida competing in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. W&J plays seven games against teams from five states, including a contest with 12th-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point on March 23rd.