Today: Jun 25, 2024

Baseball looks ahead to season opener

Photo Courtesy | Senior Captain Michael Cleary led the Northeast-10 Conference a season ago with seven triples.

Andrew Anastasio – Sports Editor

After finishing their 2012 campaign with an overall record of 31-17, the Owls Baseball team will travel down south to North Carolina, where they will begin their 2013 season on Feb. 16.

“We’re excited as we are every year,” head coach Tim Shea said. “We did lose some very key players to graduation last year, but we have a solid pitching staff returning.

With the leaders we have coming back this year, and the leadership they will provide to the younger players, I think we will be in pretty good shape.”

Of the players the Owls lost to graduation, include starting middle infielders Sam Greenberg and Kyle Cummings.

Photo Courtesy | southernctowls.comSenior Captain Michael Cleary led the Northeast-10 Conference a season ago with seven triples.
Photo Courtesy |
Senior Captain Michael Cleary led the Northeast-10 Conference a season ago with seven triples.

Corner infielders Ryan Geffert, Greg Pacelli, outfielder Peter Testa, and pitcher Daniel Murdoch round out the rest of last season’s senior class. The Owls will also be without last year’s ace Chris Zbin who has also graduated.

Shea said he plans on filling the vacant middle infield positions with sophomore Nick Baviello and junior T.K. Kiernan; both of whom saw significant playing time a season ago.

Pitchers Gary Flowers, Sal Armao, Austin Brochu, and Mike Yerina, along with outfielders Joe Uccello and Alex Wichmann are all a part of the 2013 Owls freshman class. Infielders Jake Lieberman, Jake Paul, and Jake DeRosa are also among the list of newcomers.

Despite their youth, Shea said he’s hopeful that his new talent can make an immediate impact.

“You never know with freshmen,” Shea said. “Some of those guys are going to get opportunities right from the get-go. That’s what we preach to these guys, ‘that’s why you came here to have an opportunity to play in a good program.’ We do have some young guys this year and some of them will have the opportunity to step up. That’s going to be a big key to our success with these freshmen. If they come in and succeed right away, that can kind of tell the tale of what our season will be like.”

The captains this year include redshirt senior pitcher Ryan Yerina, whose season was cut short last year due to an arm injury, and senior outfielder Michael Cleary.

Because of his injury, Yerina finished the 2012 season with a 4-1 record, along with an ERA of 2.76 and 15 strikeouts.

“I’m 100% healthy going into this season,” Yerina said. “I’m looking to have a better year than last year, and hopefully make the College World Series.”

In 2012, Cleary finished third on the team with a .298 batting average. He led the team with seven triples, and 17 stolen bases. He also hit four home runs and 26 total RBI’s. Cleary said he was honored once he found out he was named a captain.

“It’s nice knowing that my teammates and my coaches have the confidence in me to lead this team,” Cleary said. “That’s what I hope to do throughout the year, is lead this team both on and off the field.”

Shea said both Cleary and Yerina deserve their roles as captains.

“They’re both great kids and great leaders,” Shea said. “They’ve had great careers thus far, and I know they are going to do a great job for us both on and off the field. I know they’re going to lead our young guys, and show them the right way to do things practice wise, in the classroom, and in the community. I’m very fortunate to have guys like that in my program. They’re going to be great captains for us, and I know they’re both going to have great seasons.”

With only three weeks left until the season opener, the Owls will be without closer Rocco Cundari who sustained an ankle injury two weeks ago. Last year, Cundari recorded nine saves and finished with a 2-0 record and a 1.15 ERA.

Shea said he’s hopeful to get Cundari back as soon as possible, but intends to use sophomore Pat Egan who made a conference best 22 appearances a year ago and tallied three saves to fill the role.

“Pat (Egan) can definitely handle the role of closer, but it kind of weakens us in the middle a little bit. We have to figure out whether want to move Pat into that role, and hope to get some quality innings from the young guys that haven’t pitched that much. We may also keep Pat where he is, so he can give us the quality appearances. Time will tell. As we start to prepare, we will start to figure those things out.”

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