Baseball Season Preview

Baseball Season Preview

CHESTERTOWN, Md. – Last season entering the final third of the Centennial Conference baseball schedule, the Washington College baseball team held the fourth and final spot for the Centennial Conference Tournament with a 7-5 mark.  However, the hopes of reaching the Centennial Tournament for the first time since 2012 eluded the squad as they finished 1-5 in the final third of the conference slate to finish 8-10 in the Centennial.

Despite the finish, the 2018 version of Washington College had a strong season as they went 24-16 overall, the third-most overall wins in a single season in team history, notched its third winning campaign in four years and tossed two no-hitters, a Centennial Conference first.  This season under second year head coach Cory Beddick, the Shoremen will look to scratch the seven-year itch and return to the Centennial Conference Tournament.

"Our guys come to work every day with the goal of returning to the Centennial Conference Tournament," says Beddick.  "We take a lot of pride in playing in such a national competitive conference, we are looking forward to returning to the tournament."

The 2019 edition of the Shoremen Nine will be a young squad with nine seniors, six juniors, 11 sophomores and 14 freshmen.

For the Shoremen to get where they want to be, Beddick is going to need the young players to contribute right away to replace three players who tallied 100 career hits, a first team outfield selection and three key pitchers who graduated and the skipper is optimistic that will happen.

"We graduated several players last year who had outstanding careers here at Washington.  Their production and what they brought to our clubhouse will be missed; however, we feel extremely excited about the depth and overall talent of our 2019 squad," states Beddick.  "We have some young guys that are capable of making significant impacts immediately, in addition to our already talented group of returners," he continued.

For Washington to get where it wants to be, the team will need to improve both on the mound and at the plate as they finished in the bottom half on both sides last season in the Centennial.

While the pitching numbers did improve from 2017 last spring, the Shoremen will need those numbers to be better if they want to reach the conference tournament.  The overall ERA dropped from 5.18 to 4.86 and the conference ERA fell from 6.56 to 6.32 as the overall ERA was fourth in the Centennial, while the conference ERA was seventh.  The bullpen trimmed down its ERA by over a run from 6.30 in 2017 to 5.08 in 2018, but that number will need to be lower in 2019.  The starters ERA regressed slightly from 4.54 to 4.70, but went 16-7.

Pitching wise, Beddick, sees two spots secured for the 2018 season with six guys competing for the final two spots in the starting rotation. 

Beddick projects his top starter as sophomore Mike Smith (Springfield, Pa./Springfield) with the combination of seniors Billy Benson (Bel Air, Md./Patterson Mill) and Matt Furlong (Howell, N.J./Howell) and freshman Jonah Frankel (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Harriton) rounding out the rotation.  Competing with Benson, Furlong and Frankel are sophomores Ryan Mostoller (Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire) and Ethan Osgood (Glen Gardner, N.J./Voorhees).  Beddick mentioned that Mostoller and Osgood will be key pieces in the bullpen if they do not earn a starting spot.  Smith went 2-0 in 13 appearances, four starts with a 5.64 ERA.  He did strikeout 32 hitters, the most of any returning pitcher, and led the squad with a 9.49 strikeouts per nine innings ratio in 30.1 innings.  Benson went 1-0 in eight outings, one start, with seven strikeouts in 12 innings, while Furlong went 3-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 10 games, five starts, as he tossed 31 innings.  Mostoller appeared in five contests last spring with a pair of strikeouts, while Osgood got into 10 games, tossed 15 innings and fanned nine batters.

The team will also have two starters who are coming off of injury and will join the team during the season in senior Nick Roberti (New Fairfield, Conn./New Fairfield) and sophomore Nick Brauer (Royersford, Pa./Spring-Ford).  Roberti went 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 47.2 innings last year, the most innings by a returnee and tossed a no-hitter against Bethany last March.  His 3.40 ERA ranked seventh amongst all conference hurlers.  Brauer tossed 10 innings for Washington last year in six appearances.

"Roberti was electric last year.  We had him penciled in as our number one arm coming into the year.  Unfortunately, he sustained an injury in the fall but both he and Brauer have been working extremely hard to get back and are currently on pace to contribute this season," stated the second-year mentor.

In the bullpen, Beddick projects the pen to be seniors Dom Giandonato (Mullica Hill, N.J./Haddon Heights) and Connor Morgan (Havertown, Pa./Haverford), sophomore Alex Bendzlowicz (Warrington, Pa./Central Bucks South) and freshmen Colin Brown (Silver Spring, Md./Albert Einstein), Ethan Kile (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township), JD Sparks (New Canaan, Conn./Brunswick School), Michael Roseman (Maplewood, N.J./Columbia) along with Mostoller and Osgood.

"We think Bendo (Bendzlowicz) and Kile have the ability to anchor the back end of the pen," said the Shoremen head coach.  "We trust those guys to pitch in high leverage situations for us."

The second-year coach believes that the pitching staff is deeper overall despite the losses of P.J. Mikulus, Nick Popolizio and Sean Weiss from last year's team. 

Beddick says that, "Mikulus, Pop (Popolizio) and Weiss were three invaluable pitchers and teammates.  We cannot replace them, but we do think that we have more options this year and some guys that present different looks to an opposing offense."

The offense bounced back from a down 2017 season to hit 23 points higher at .285 and scored 90 more runs than in 2017 as they crossed the plate 278 times.  In conference play, Washington hit 30 points higher at .277, compared to .247 two years ago and went from 71 runs scored to 135.  Washington was seventh in the conference in batting average and third in runs scored and stolen bases (62).  The 62 steals was a jump from 36 in 2017.  Even with the improvement, Beddick believes these numbers can be even better in 2019.

"Our lineup has the chance to be much deeper and more dynamic than last season," said Beddick.  "The key for us will be to remain consistent through the course of the 40-game regular season schedule."

Behind the plate, Beddick is expecting both junior Ryan Zwier (Newark, Del./Christ School (N.C.) and freshman Ryan Colbert (Sicklerville, N.J./Bishop Eustace Prep) to see the majority of the time behind the plate as the coach sees both of them as outstanding options offensively and defensively and middle the order bats in the lineup.  Zwier hit .286 last season with four home runs, tied for tops on the team, and 24 RBI to go with a squad-best 12 doubles.  He finished third on the team in runs scored with 23 and tied for third in hits at 36.  Washington catchers last spring allowed just one passed ball which led the conference.

First base has two players that will see the majority of the time in juniors Dylan Nepert (Federalsburg, Md./Colonel Richardson) and Max Hammond (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's).  Nepert comes to Washington College after hitting .348 with nine home runs, 32 RBI and 28 runs scored at Chesapeake College in 2018 after playing his baseball in 2017 at Division II Seton Hill University.  Nepert will also see time at catcher and designated hitter.  Hammond, who brings a good glove to the field according to Beddick, hit .234 with nine RBI in 32 games and will see most of the action at first base when Nepert is playing elsewhere and Beddick expects that to be a lot.

Across the infield from first is expected to be patrolled by senior Aaron Barclay (Crofton, Md./Archbishop Spalding), a second team all-conference selection as a freshman in 2016.  Barclay, who is also a member of the men's soccer team at WC, bounced back from a rough sophomore campaign, as he hit .254 with two home runs and a team-high 32 RBI.  He tied for the team lead in runs scored with 38, placed second in doubles with nine and tied for third in hits with 36, while stealing seven bases. 

The middle infield is expected to be manned by senior Luke D'Ostilio (Hamden, Conn./Hamden) at second base and sophomore CJ Gillmer (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) at shortstop.  D'Ostilio, an All-Centennial Conference first team pick in 2018, hit a team-best .356 with two home runs and 22 RBI despite playing in just 27 games.  He was second on the team in on-base percentage (.431) and slugging (.522).  Gillmer had a strong rookie campaign as he hit .337 with 33 hits, 22 runs scored and eight swiped bags in 32 contests.

Also in the mix in the infield to provide depth is sophomore Aaron Deutsch (Haverford, Pa./Harriton) at second and shortstop, sophomore Jack Kingman (Concord, Mass./Cheshire Academy (Conn.) at first, second and third and senior Jay Felts (Glen Arm, Md./McDonogh) at first base and designated hitter.  Beddick said all three bring something to the table with Deutsch being a versatile defender, Kingman an impact bat off the bench and Felts had strong leadership qualities.  Freshman Joe Curtin (Silver Spring, Md./Albert Einstein) and Roberto Barranca (York, Pa./Calvert Hall [Md.]) are two freshmen that also provide depth and offensive punch in the infield.

Beddick indicated that he believes the outfield might be the deepest position on the team and that there is an ongoing competition for all three outfield spots.  The Shoremen will need to replace both corner outfielders as he lost both Ryan Donnelly (left field) and Matt Tancredi (right field) to graduation.  Beddick expects juniors Joe Otto (Middletown, Del./Appoquinimink) and Chris Kramedas (Hockessin, Del./Conrad Schools of Science) to see significant time in right field and centerfield respectively.  Otto, despite missing time due to injury, got into 23 games last year and drew seven walks, while Kramedas hit .250 with 20 RBI and 20 runs scored last year.

To complement Kramedas and Otto, Beddick sees freshman Chris Baker (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) and freshmen twin brothers Ben Ruvo and Max Ruvo (North Caldwell, N.J./West Essex) competing for time in the crowded outfield.

Also in the mix in the outfield are senior TC Conrad (Silver Spring, Md./Paint Branch), junior Tommy Buckman (McLean, Va./McLean) and sophomore David Hudak (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul's School) as returners and.  Conrad gives the Shoremen a solid late inning defensive outfielder, Buckman brings a good bat off the bench and Hudak brings defense and speed and is one of the team's top pinch-runners.

At designated hitter, Beddick expects Nepert and Zwier to be the primary designated hitters, but Colbert and Kingman could see time at DH.

In the field last season, the Shoremen finished ninth with a .942 fielding percentage, down from .953 in 2017 as they committed 86 errors, which was 21 more than in 2017.  Beddick is hoping the team's defense will be improved in 2019.  Washington also threw out just 16.7% of baserunners trying to steal, which was ninth in the Centennial.

Serving as captains for the team are D'Ostilio, Giandonato, Gillmer and Nepert.

Beddick will be joined on his coaching staff by third year assistant Cooper Belyea, second year assistant Michael Festa and first year assistant Tom Fiala, who will be serving as the pitching coach.  Fiala was a four-year member of the Shoremen and was a member of the 2012 team that won a school record 28 games and reached the final Centennial Conference Tournament.

"Myself and our players are very lucky to have such a dedicated and talented group of assistant coaches," said Beddick.  "We are thrilled to have Coach Belyea and Coach Festa back for this spring and Coach Fiala was an outstanding addition to our program, and we are excited to see his finger prints on our pitching staff."

The Shoremen will open their season with a pair of games on February 23 at the Bison Baseball Classic hosted by Gallaudet.  Washington will play Marymount at 10:00 a.m. and host Gallaudet at 2:00 pm.

Schedule Breakdown – Doubleheaders Listed As DH
Total Games: 40 (16 home, 12 away, 12 neutral)
Season Opener: February 23 vs. Marymount at Gallaudet (10:00 a.m.)
Away Opener: February 23 at Galladuet (2:00 p.m.)
Home Opener: March 2 vs. Roger Williams (12:00 p.m. – DH)
Centennial Home Opener: March 30 vs. #7 Swarthmore (12:00 p.m. – DH)
Centennial Away Opener: April 2 at McDaniel (3:30 p.m.)
Centennial Home Opponents: Swarthmore, McDaniel (4/5), Franklin & Marshall (4/9), Dickinson (4/13 – DH), Johns Hopkins (4/18), Haverford (4/26)
Centennial Away Opponents: McDaniel, Gettysburg (4/6 – DH), Franklin & Marshall (4/12), Johns Hopkins (4/16), Muhlenberg (4/20 – DH), Haverford (4/23), Ursinus (4/27 – DH)
Non-Conference Home Opponents: Roger Williams, Lancaster Bible, Hood (3/20), Penn College (3/23 – DH), Cairn (3/25), Wesley (3/27)
Non-Conference Road Opponents: Gallaudet, #22 Salisbury (2/27)
Non-Conference Neutral Opponents: Marymount, Stevenson at Gallaudet (2/24)
Florida Opponents: Western Connecticut (3/10 – DH), Marywood (3/11 – DH), Northwestern (Minn.) (3/12), Earlham (3/14), Wheaton (Ill.) (3/15 – DH), Cairn (3/16 – DH)
2018 NCAA Tournament Opponents: Salisbury, Swarthmore