Since becoming the head coach of the Webster University baseball coach in 2007, Bill Kurich’s Gorlok baseball teams have earned 13 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and eight SLIAC Tournament Championships. They’ve been awarded 11 NCAA Tournament berths and advanced to the Division III College World Series in 2012, 2013, 2015 as well as last season where they were bested in a pair of one-run games. Also during Kurick’s tenure, Gorlok players have been named First Team All-SLIAC selections 72 times and have awarded All-American designation 14 times. One player, Josh Flemming, was named the D-III Pitcher of the Year and went on to become a fifth-round draft selection in 2017. It seems that Kurich and the Gorlok’s have accomplished most everything except win a national title. That could change this year.
The 2020 Gorlok roster is loaded with incredible talent up and down the roster, both in the field and on the mound. The offense boasts a number of potential All-Americans, including third baseman Ben Swords, who hit .360 with 20 doubles as a freshman last season and Kyler Kent who rapped out a school record 83 hits with a .428 batting average in 2018. On the mound the team has a pair of aces in Matt Mulhearn and Sean Beaver. Each earned All-SLIAC honors last season. Swords and Mulhearn added All-American accolades as well. The aforementioned Kent, as well as current reliever Shane Donovan, were named All-Americans in 2018.
In all, Webster welcomes back seven position starters, five of their top six pitchers and 27 letterman from last year’s team that won its 13th consecutive SLIAC regular season title and went 8-1 during the SLIAC conference tournament, NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals play. With that, they are the clear-cut choice to be Perfect Game preseason No. 1 team headed into 2020.
2020 Perfect Game NCAA Division III Preseason Top 25 Teams
|Rk.||’19 Rk.||School||ST||’19 Rec.|
|3||8||Wooster Fighting Scots||OH||30-15|
|4||12||Cortland State Red Dragons||NY||34-13-1|
|5||14||Southern Maine Huskies||ME||37-9|
|7||NR||North Central Cardinals||IL||34-13|
|8||18||Texas Lutheran Bulldogs||TX||31-14|
|9||NR||St. John Fisher Cardinals||NY||29-14|
|10||10||Heidelberg Student Princes||OH||35-15|
|15||5||Concordia University Chicago Cougars||IL||42-10|
|20||22||Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets||VA||28-10-1|
|25||NR||The College of New Jersey Lions||NJ||33-11|
1. Webster Gorloks
Matt Mulhearn and Sean Beaver provide head coach with a pair of aces to start games. Mulhearn earned a number of accolades last season which included First Team All-St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, All-Central Region and All-American honors. He pitched 105 2/3 innings last season in which had had a dainty 2.13 ERA. During those outings he impressively threw five complete games, held opposition to a .228 batting average, and struck out 102 batters while only walking 11. Beaver was nearly as dominating. Beaver totaled 82 1/3 innings on the mound in which he finished with a 2.31 ERA. The San Diego native was especially impressive the second half of the season as he ended the year winning his last seven starts which included a victory over Concordia-Chicago in Super Regional action. In addition to that pair, Brendan May and Dakota Borman combined to make 19 starts and throw 84 quality innings. Cooper Hake, who pitched at UI South Bend will fortify the staff. He made 15 appearances and threw 54 1/3 innings for the Titans. The team will be without their closer from last season, but every other pitcher who totaled at least 10 innings is back.
After batting .360 as a freshman, third baseman Ben Swords hit .358 and led the team with 20 doubles and seven home runs to amass a mighty .588 slugging percentage. He also tacked on 15 stolen bases to his already impressive totals. On the other side of the infield, Kyler Kent put up solid numbers from the first base position. He batted .295 and slugged .443. In 2018 Kent recorded a school record 83 hits which included 28 multi-hit games and finished with a .428 average. Over the summer Kent was an All Star in the Prospect League. Outfielder AJ Smith was second on the team among regulars in batting with a .342 average. Aron Hopp, who also plays on the Webster basketball team, started all 50 games at centerfield and stole 23 bases. Adam Lowell stole 20 bases and batted .313 for Webster in 2018 but suffered an early season ending injury in March. He was batting .311 before being injured and should be a big contributor once again.
2. UW Whitewater Warhawks
Shortstop Nick Santoro appears the next in line of an ever-growing list of UWW batsmen who tear up DIII diamonds before going on to play professionally. Last season he slashed .379/.439/.651, hit 16 doubles and was first in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in both triples and total bases. He also added seven home runs. He is one of just five players back who appeared in 40 games and batted at least .340. Noah Jensen, Matt Korman and Alex Doud provide the Warhawks with a high-octane outfield that can hit, run and play solid defense. Jensen was second in the WIAC in batting with a .394 average and had 18 extra base hits and 14 stolen bases. Korman amassed a .540 slugging percentage which placed him 10th in the conference and batted 341. Doud batted .347 and had 10 stolen bases. Adding to the potent offense will be freshman Jacob DeMeyer who batted .507 in high school and also was a four-time state qualifier and two-time placewinner in wrestling.
The Warhawks pitching staff retains two of three top starters along with a pair of highly accomplished relief aces. Matt O’Sullivan made 12 starts last spring and totaled 78 1/3 innings of work which included four complete games. He was a First Team All-WIAC pitcher who earned his spot with a 2.87 ERA and 80 strikeouts. Opposition batted a paltry .225 against him. Also back will be Westin Muir who had a perfect 8-0 record and 0.99 WHIP as he only allowed 49 hits and 16 walks in 65 1/3 innings. He also had a 2.07 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Connor Spear and Evan Sigmund were absolutely barbaric against opposition last season. Spear only allowed seven earned runs in 43 2/3 innings to finish with a 1.44 ERA. He only allowed 30 hits and seven walks with 31 strikeouts. His appearances included five spot starts. Sigmund worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen and pitched 20 1/3 innings in which he only issued a pair of walks with 21 strikeouts. His ERA on the season was 1.77. Ben Muscatello, who was a highly regarded recruit out of Colorado, has joined the team after spending last season at William Jewel.
3. Wooster Fighting Scots
Dan Harwood and Harry Witwer-Dukes are the latest in a long line of explosive Wooster hitters. Harwood is one of DIII’s most awed hitters as he finished with a .424 average last season with 18 doubles, a pair of triples and five home runs. Those numbers earned him All-American honor for a second season. His 28 walks and 14 HBPs pushed his on base percentage to a husky .538. Witwer-Dukes batted .390 with 26 of his 64 hits going for extra bases to lead the team with a near satanic .665 slugging percentage. He is at home defensively at either second or third base. The Scots also return three other position players who started at least 30 games and batted no less than .300. One of three, Nick Strausbaugh not only led the team in home runs, but he is a three-time all-conference wide receiver selection on the Scot’s football team. Freshman Dane Camphausen is a 6-foot-7 behemoth who could be a future draft pick if he fills out his frame and continues to develop as a hitter.
The Scots return two of three starters which should keep them in the hunt for conference, regional and national titles. Andrew Hill and Evan Faxon combined to throw 138 innings with 4.39 and 2.63 ERAs respectively. Hill has game dominating ability as demonstrated when he threw a no-hitter against Allegheny. He finished the season with a 4.39 ERA in 69 2/3 innings and 65 strikeouts. Faxon greatly improved his sophomore season and was second in the North Coast Athletic Conference in ERA at 2.63. He was two outs away from a no-hitter himself against Kenyon. Colin Springer showed promise as a freshman as he appeared in 14 games and totaled 17 1/3 innings. His 6.23 ERA on the season is disproportionate to his ability as it was highly inflated from one poor outing. Submariner Jack Jones didn’t allow an earned run his first 10 appearances and held opposition to a .196 batting average.
4. Cortland State Red Dragons
The Red Dragons finished last season with a 34-13-1 record and made their record-tying 27th straight NCAA tournament appearance. On their way they were the only NCAA school which finished their conference regular season play undefeated. Cortland nearly advanced to the finals for the 10th time this century but lost a pair of one-run contests to a determined Babson team. Earning yet another trip to the extended postseason seems like a lock with a strong core of holdovers from last season as well as some high caliber recruits.
Cortland’s offense should be particularly stringent as a handful of players from the club that batted .310 collectively will be back on the diamond.
Senior outfielder Scott Giordano batted .326 and amassed 21 doubles, five triples and four home runs. By posting such elite numbers he was named the State University of New York Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year. Colin BeVard, also a senior, earned SUNYAC First Team honors as well as he was second on the club with a .359 batting average and slugged .635 thanks to his 16 doubles, five triples and seven home runs. Mat Bruno impressed as freshman, batting .337 which was third on the team. Following the regular season he went on to hit .293 in the Hudson Valley Collegiate Baseball League. James Varian and Brian Corporan are also hitters returning who batted .321 and .326 respectively.
The Dragons pitching staff lost several experienced arms, but coaches believe their remaining roster and recruits will continue to throw at the same high caliber pace. Zac Durant made the start in each of his 13 appearances and finished the season with a 2.96 ERA and held opposition to a .226 batting average. He led the team in innings with 70 and struck out 63. Joe Valentino, a transfer from Suffolk County CC, should make a big impact on the mound. Last season for the Sharks he was 8-0 and struck out 92 batters in 48 1/3 innings (17.1 per 9). His ERA for the year was 1.12.
5. Southern Maine Huskies
Despite losing 2B/P Jake Dexter, who was a three-time All American, as well as two other big bats on offense, the Huskies are shockingly in good position for another deep postseason run.
Andrew Hillier is comfortable on either corner of the infield as well as at the plate. He led the team with a .394 batting average and added 16 doubles, four triples and five home runs. During the NCAA regional tournament, he went 16-for-25 to bat a ridiculous .640. Andrew Olszak is an absolutely integral part of the team. He batted .337 and only committed seven errors as the Huskies’ shortstop. Over the summer Olszak was an All Star in the Florida Collegiate Baseball League with the North Shore Navigators. Sam Troiano, who was rated the number one high school outfielder and fifth best prospect overall from Maine, hit .310 with a team leading nine home runs and added ten stolen bases. Dylan Hapworth also finished the season over .300 as he knocked out 44 hits in 145 at bats to finish with a .303 average. Catcher Jason Komulainen also returns to stabilize the defense and pitching staff.
Ben Lambert was an easy All-American selection to make after he finished the season with a 10-1 record and 1.38 ERA. In 71 2/3 innings he only allowed a measly 47 hits to finish with a .182 opposing batting average. He led the Little East Conference in both wins and ERA. Gage Feeney has been a three-year starter for the Huskies and has put up solid, but not spectacular numbers every year. Over the past two seasons he has finished with 3.41 and 3.59 ERAs and a 13-3 record. Josh Joy greatly improved from his sophomore season as he dropped his ERA from a beefy 8.37 to much more manageable 3.60. He only allowed 25 hits in 40 innings to hold opposition to a .180 batting average. Colton Lawrence has been effective over the past two seasons out of the bullpen but has been susceptible to a bad inning on occasion.
6. Washington Bears
The bulk of the Bears’ lineup which won a program best 34 games and batted .307 as a team returns for what is sure to be another deep postseason run under Head Coach Pat Bloom. John Brinkman was named the University Athletic Association Position Player of the Year after batting .417 with 14 extra base hits. He astonishingly was struck out only four times in 168 at bats. Brinkman also closed games for the Bears and earned five saves in nine appearances as he held opposition to a .140 batting average. Shortstop Caleb Durbin’s offensive totals nearly mirrored Brinkman’s. He tied Brinkman’s team leading total of 90 total bases and batted .392 with a team leading 20 extra-base hits. He was three times more likely to get hit by a pitch than strikeout as he had 15 HBPs and only fanned five times. Senior Thomas Gardner slashed .271/.425/.319 and made 35 starts as the team’s catcher. The rest of the everyday roster includes five other players who made at least 20 starts in the field.
Like the offensive, the pitching staff, which had a nation leading 2.05 ERA in 2019, is largely intact; however they did lose one of their dual aces. The remaining rotation is led by Ryan Loutos, an All-American starter who led the UAA with a 11.66 strikeouts per nine innings mark as he fanned 92 in 71 frames. In back-to-back appearances against Monmouth and Knox, Loutos threw 17 2/3 innings while only allowing nine hits with 29 strikeouts. On the season he held opposition to a .211 batting average. Matt Ashbaugh is on a trajectory to have an astonishing senior season. In 11 appearances last season which included eight starts, he had a 2.63 ERA and struck out 48 batters in 54 2/3 innings. Matt Lopes led the team in appearances out of the bullpen with 14 and totaled 24 2/3 innings. He held opposition to a .165 batting average as he only allowed 15 hits while striking out 30.
7. North Central College Cardinals
The Cardinals earned the second most wins in program history and established new records for stolen bases and walks at the plate and strikeouts on the mound. A good portion of that team is back in 2020 which could mean a number of additional records will fall this spring.
The pitching staff is extremely talented and experienced with pitchers who accounted for nearly 90% of all innings thrown last season back on the mound. Charles Klemm and Austin Polezoes each started 11 games last season, and both threw nearly 70 innings. Klemm was the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Pitcher of the Year after leading the team in ERA at 2.20, opposing batting average at .212 and strikeouts with 84. Polezoes will be a four-year starter and has a reputation of being a big game pitcher. He throws well in the little ones too as he finished with a 2.94 ERA. Jason Shanner had an excellent summer in the Prospect League following a sophomore season in which he finished with a 3.14 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. Tyler Jones appeared in 18 games as the Cards’ closer. He finished with a 1.33 ERA and held opposition to a .195 batting average. The staff should get an additional boost from freshman Joe Kaminsky. Kaminsky was highly rated coming out of high school and should continue to improve as he gets stronger.
Catcher Rob Marinec was the CCIW Player of the Year after slashing .344/.462/.644 with 15 stolen bases. Joe Rizzo and John Carmody also earned All-CCIW honors for their play. Rizzo posted a .351 average and was the pivot man of the middle infield which led the nation in double plays. Carmody hit .295 and added eight home runs. Colin Weilbacher and Michael Stoltz are also integral parts of the offense. Weilbacher will be a four-year starter and batted .367 and .337 the last two seasons. Stoltz is the team’s shortstop and batted .303 with 15 stolen bases. Also returning will be Eric Outlaw. He batted .329 in 2018, but missed most of last season due to injury.
8. Texas Lutheran Bulldogs
Despite playing a number of newcomers and first-timers last season TLU still managed to follow up their national runner-up season in 2018 with a 31-14 record. Expect similar numbers this spring as the Bulldogs have a wealth of talent at the plate and on the mound.
Tyler Cauley has put together three exceptional seasons at Texas Lutheran, and with a senior season on par with previous outputs, he’ll be among the school’s all-time greats. While his numbers were a step down from the ‘Dogs’ 2018 season, he still put up excellent numbers. He was second on the team with a .329 batting average and hit 10 doubles, four triples and eight home runs. He also walked 42 times to help him accumulate a robust .477 on base percentage. Cullen Motsinger, the team’s centerfielder was potent with the bat as well. He slashed .327/.452/.440 and finished the season without a single error. Also returning are middle infielders Joe Jimenez and Austin Colon. Jimenez is the team’s shortstop who lead the team with a .376 batting average as a freshman. Colon batted .314 in his first year of full-time play. Spencer Brandt, the team’s redshirt catcher will also be back. Caleb Maly, who led Wharton County JC with a .393 batting average and earned First Team All-Conference and All-Region will add another potent bat to the lineup.
TLU won’t have either of their two primary starting pitchers from last season, but they do have a quartet of experienced players who pitched in relief or made spot starts. The best numbers were accumulated by Matthew Hickey who appeared in 17 games last season with three starts. He pitched 49 innings and held opposition to a .239 batting average and had a 2.39 ERA. Joe Burch, Riley Backs and Landon Weatherly each made either 13 appearances or threw over 20 innings. Nolan Tenpas was a highly rated prep pitcher coming out of high school but hasn’t taken to the mound yet. If he is able to pitch to even a fraction of his forecasted ability, he could put up outstanding numbers.
9. St. John Fisher Cardinals
The 2020 edition of the St. John Fisher team rivals the 2016 edition which advanced to the DIII College World Series for the first time. If players perform as anticipated, they could be returning to the final eight this year.
The Cardinals’ offense which batted .326, slugged .487 and averaged over eight runs per game, had only two seniors as contributors. As a result, the club has an extremely potent lineup which should be among the best in DIII baseball. Allen Murphy was the Empire 8 Player of the Year after batting .394 with 15 doubles and nine home runs. Head Coach Brandon Potter feels that Murphy has, “the most tools and talent of any player we’ve had here, including the other two draft picks”. He will be rejoined in the lineup with shortstop Justin Graham and outfielder Anthony Mantova. Graham batted .350 last season and was named First Team All-Empire 8 for the third season. In addition to being an elite hitter he is regarded as one of the top fielding shortstops and was even featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Mantova is also a senior and slashed .377/.478/.553. Other big contributors include Thomas Pasquale and Stephen Edgett. Pasquale plays third base and hit .362 with 21 doubles. Edgett batted .301 with 20 doubles as the team’s centerfielder.
While the pitching corps don’t put up as dazzling numbers as the offense, they are solid and experienced. RJ Kuruts led the team with 13 starts and totaled 76 1/3 innings on the mound. He had a 4.60 ERA and struck out 64 batters. Matthew Raudelunas and Kenneth Westerbrook combined to start 17 games and combined to throw 85 innings. Westerbook has the smaller ERA of the two at 3.86, but Raudelunas has a lot of arm talent and unquestioned ability to pitch at the next level with his fastball/slider combo.
Anthony Brophy and Tim Geissel were excellent out of the bullpen last season with Geissel typically taking on the closer role. Transfer Logan Persse put up excellent numbers at Salem University in 2018 as he pitched 54 innings and finished the season the year with a 2.50 ERA.
10. Heidelberg Student Princes
Kyle Jenkins and Marc Ochoa, two of the team’s top hitters from last season return as part of a seasoned club ready to repeat last season’s success. Jenkins slashed .345/.382/.447 with 78 hits which included 14 doubles and three home runs. He was honored as the All-Ohio Athletic Conference’s First Team Third baseman. Ochoa, who primarily plays behind the plate but also pitches, also was named a first team all-conference pick has he batted .344 with 20 extra base hits and impressively threw out 23 would-be-base stealers. The trio of Tyler Smith, Zach Doran and Eric Devore are also welcomed returnees. Smith and Doran both batted well over .300, had double-digit stolen base totals and held down the middle of the infield on defense. Devore contributed with a .343 batting average as the team’s designated hitter.
Trevor Adkins and Tristan Phillips are the top two returning starting pitchers from last season. Adkins pitched 85 2/3 innings in which struck out 81 batters and had a 4.31 ERA. Phillips had a 3.31 ERA over 51 2/3 innings on the mound and struck out 37 batters while only issuing eight walks. Both were named All-OAC Honorable Mention. Brady Knizner dazzled as a freshman, appearing in 23 games with three spot starts. He led the team with a 2.74 ERA in 46 innings.
The staff will get a big boost from a pair of players who didn’t play last season. Ross Thompson was injured last spring, but previously was the top pitcher at conference rival Capital University where he had a 2.67 ERA in 67 1/3 innings in 2018. Cam Deemer threw 54 innings across 11 appearances in 2018.
11. Concordia (TX) Tornadoes
CTX was a win away from advancing to the College World Series last season and will be a threat to go deep once again with one of the most complete and dominating pitching staffs in D-III baseball. Matthew Williams has a 3.66 ERA over three seasons and 270 1/3 innings for the Tornadoes. Last season he struck out 93 batters, threw five complete games and held opposition to a .248 batting average. Calvin Bush blossomed into an ace hurler and put together one of the most imposing stat lines in baseball. He totaled 72 2/3 innings over 20 appearances which included six starts. He only allowed 38 hits which computes to a teeny .152 batting average. He struck out 110 batters and only allowed 23 walks. Over the summer he pitched for the Martinsville Mustangs of the Coastal Plains League where he continued to mow down opposition. Bush K’d 27 in 15 2/3 innings and only allowed a pair of earned runs. Michael Smith provides a third seasoned and accomplished arm. He appeared in 18 games and totaled 46 1/3 innings. While on the mound he held opposition to a .170 batting average and struck out 51 batters. Those three are so good that an excellent pitcher like Diego Cruz-Garcia and his 2.81 ERA and 45 Ks in 41 2/3 innings, got relegated to the last sentence of this paragraph.
The Tornadoes offense will be respectable, but not overpowering. Bret Leiferman and Casen Novak are strong candidates to repeat their output which earned them First Team All-American Southwest Conference honors. Leiferman led the team in batting at .374, in doubles with eight, and home runs with five. Novak, the team’s leadoff hitting shortstop, has earned All ASC honors three times and finished with a .337 batting average and a team leading 14 stolen bases. Owen Hill and Marcus Thach are also everyday regulars to the lineup. Hill played first base and hit .288 as a freshman and Thach hit .323 with 13 stolen bases.
12. Trinity Tigers
The Tigers’ lineup will be without five players who started thirty games last season, including two of their top three hitters; however, Trinity is one of the few DIII teams which is capable to quickly rebuild their roster. Fortunately, Rafe Chaumette, who has put together three skilled seasons for TU, is among the returners. Chaumette led the team in batting last season at .351. Over the summer he was named an All-Star in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the second consecutive season. Mason Meredith and Michael Goodrich add another pair of proficient bats. Meredith typically served as the team’s cleanup hitter and center fielder and batted .328. As the team’s catcher, Goodrich tied for the team lead in home runs with seven and hit .315.
Additions to the regular roster include a trio of former DI players. Tyler Pettit made 49 starts over the past two seasons at Incarnate Word. Michael Herrera previously played at Abilene Christian University and hit .379 for the Pierre Trappers in the Expedition League over the summer. Evan McDonald started eight games at Prairie View A&M.
Corey Carter and James Nittoli provide the club a pair of experienced arms to start games. Carter has a very high ceiling and excelled in a dual role last spring. He made 22 appearances which included six starts. In 74 innings he only allowed 60 hits to hold opposition to a .226 batting average. Nittoli made 11 starts and amassed 57 2/3 innings in which he earned a 4.68 ERA. The team would have had a third established presence to start games, but Mark Tindall will miss the season due to injury. Cash Crane and Jimmy Tatum didn’t get much mound time last season but could make their way into the rotation. Carter Fronk was dependable out of the bullpen last season where he appeared in 12 games and had a 1.13 ERA. Joel Thomas, a transfer from Paradise Valley CC, should earn a fair share of innings as well.
13. Salisbury Seagulls
Justin Meekins was one of the top shortstops in his Maryland prep class and he has lived up to the billing. He had originally committed to play at the University of Maryland but wound up at Salisbury instead. He has been a regular starter every year and has slashed .353/.496/.512 for his college career. Last season he led the team with a .378 batting average Rejoining him in the lineup and on the diamond will be Jimmy Adkins. After a dismal freshman season in which he hit .180, Adkins batted .343 last season and added 12 stolen bases while splitting time between second and third base. He also is one of the top starting pitchers on the team. Christian Murphy, a transfer from Chesapeake College, will help punch up the offense. He batted .388 with 12 stolen bases last season for the Skipjacks.
As mentioned previously, Jimmy Adkins in an integral member of the pitching staff. In addition to his duties in the infield he threw 83 innings last season and only allowed 62 hits which calculates to a .207 opposing batting average. Adkins’ final ERA was 3.14. Christian Dwyer is a second established starting presence on the mound. Last spring he pitched 98 2/3 innings and struck out 84 batters. He threw four complete games and finished the year with a 3.74 ERA. Jackson Balzan is a highly touted hurler out of Medford, New Jersey. He was one of the top 20 high school LHPs from the Garden State. Look for him to make an immediate and meaningful impact as a freshman.
14. UMass Boston Beacons
The Beacons will once again be one of the better teams this season, fuel primarily by a deep and experienced pitching staff.
Dylan Fashempour dazzled as a freshman as he made 11 starts and threw 64 2/3 innings. He only allowed 51 hits to hold opposition to a .214 batting average. His ERA was 2.78 and coaches believe he has the stuff to play professionally once his college career is over. Tylor Arruda had a break-out sophomore season and totaled 66 innings over 18 appearances which included nine starts. He limited opposition to 51 hits and a .229 batting average. The best numbers were generated by Ben Gottesman who finished third in program history with a 1.95 season ERA. Gottesman led the staff in ERA and strikeouts with 59. Alex Amalfi is a hard throwing freshman who should get innings early and coaches believe Alessio Pressamarita has moxie and big upside which will help out of the bullpen.
Five of the Beacons top offensive producers from last season were seniors meaning their offensive production could be bit thin, especially to start. Nick Cotraro is the only player back who hit over .300 last season. He was fourth on the team with a .333 average. He put together some especially good games at the end of season such as going 3-4 with six RBI against Wheaton College and going 3-3 against Chapman. Danny Brown played some his best ball down the stretch as well. He was the Little East Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player and was also named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team. For the year he hit .281 with 12 doubles, four triples and three home runs. Catcher Ryan McCormick only batted .247, but he led the team in walk to finish with a more-than-respectable .383 on base percentage. In 2018 he finished the season second on the team in batting at .354 and had 15 doubles. Steve Brookwell, a transfer from Rowan College, should help make up for a chunk of the lost production. He hit .357 for the Roadrunners as an outfielder.
15. Concordia University Chicago Cougars
The Cougars’ pitching staff which finished the season with a 3.58 ERA and held opposition to a petite .245 batting average is almost entirely intact. Cole Carman and Adam Gregory are two of four pitchers back who made at least nine starts last spring. Gregory has a 1.60 cumulative ERA over the past two seasons, was third overall in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference last year and held opposition to a .237 average. Carmen made major strides as his ERA dropped from 5.79 to 2.41. He led the team in innings with 71 and only allowed 67 hits and nine walks. Alex Crinigan and Kyle Strepek also threw no less than 55 innings and had 3.59 and 4.88 ERAs. New head coach Kolin Conner is very high on bullpen ace Mike Tobin. Tobin appeared in 22 games out of the bullpen to earn eight saves and hold opposition to a 2.22 ERA.
The offense has placed among national leaders each of the past four seasons, but this year earning runs should be a little more laborious. The Cougars will be without the reigning NACC Position Player of the Year as well as four other hitters who started at least 34 games – three of which who hit a minimum of .325. Brody Mariotti will be in the middle of the lineup once again after batting .348 with a team leading 13 home runs. Mateo Calle hit .370 in his first full season and will be a contender to earn the NACC Player of the Year honor himself. Coaches praise Mateo’s athletic ability and believe he has a very good chance to play professionally after the season. Garry Maynard. A freshman third baseman from the Chicago suburbs, swings hard with good intent and should make an immediate impact both at the plate and on the field.
16. Birmingham Southern Panthers
Birmingham Southern perpetually reached win totals in the mid-30s and challenged for conference and regional titles throughout the past decade but had a very unPantherlike 2018 when they were a ho-hum 22-18. Last season they rocketed back up the rankings and finishing the season as the number two team in the country after going 42-15 to set a new program record for wins and finishing as the runner-up at the D-III College World Series in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While some important cogs of the machine graduated, there are still several components back in gold and black which will keep BSC competitive once again.
Offensively five regulars return to help propel the offense. Leadoff hitter Cole Steadman batted .339 with 14 doubles in his first full season as a starter. Shortstop Alfredo Granier finished nationally ranked in seven categories including hits as he batted .347. Although he rarely walked (finishing with a shockingly low total of three), he did get hit by a pitch 15 times to push his on-base percentage to .414. His double-play partner at second base, Will Toner, was plunked by a pitch 12 times himself to raise his less-than-spectacular .249 batting average to a more respectable .327 on-base percentage. He was also spry on defense as he made 168 assists and had a .963 fielding percentage. Brian Williams is another valuable part of the lineup returning. In addition to being able to play a number of positions on defensive effectively, he batted .327and slugged .462 with 18 stolen bases. Centerfielder Luke DePiero doesn’t have much pop in his bat but hit well enough to finish with a .452 on-base percentage.
The Panthers won’t have two of their top three starting pitchers from last season, but the capable Andy Hammond remains. Hammond threw 69 1/3 innings in which he struck out 47 with 17 walks. He was named to the All-Southern Athletic Association First Team. Robbie Lively made 23 appearances and totaled 29 1/3 innings on the mound. He struck out 22 batters and had a 3.68 ERA. Adam Richards appeared in nine games with four starts. He threw 20 2/3 innings and held opposition to a .230 batting average with 14 strikeouts. The pitcher who put together the most impressive season was unquestionably Hanan Mauldin. He had an incredible season in which he appeared in 19 games and totaled 56 innings. During those outings he only allowed 28 hits (.148 b/avg) and earned a 0.80 ERA.
17. Shenandoah Hornets
The two-time defending Old Dominion Athletic Conference champions earned 35 wins last season along with the ODAC and Kean Regional Championships.
The team’s number one power threat and mainstay in the middle of the Hornet lineup, Keegan Woolford, returns along with four other players who accumulated at least 100 at bats. Woolford hit 14 home runs and 16 doubles last season while batting .312. Shortstop Frankie Ritter, who batted .336 as a freshman, and senior Grant Thompson, who has hit .314 over the past two seasons, are other accomplished hitters back on the diamond. Centerfielder Henry Delavergne hit .330 as a freshman, but his average dramatically dipped to .235 last season, will also be back to prove last season’s dip at the plate was a fluke.
Gerard DePhillips provided dependability and top-shelf performance out of the bullpen last spring. He appeared in 20 games in which he led the nation and set an ODAC record with 13 saves. He had a 2.59 ERA and struck out 22 batters with only seven walks in 31 1/3 innings. Carson Kulina, Reeves Lowry and Calvin Pastel give the team three experienced starters back on the mound. Reeves started 13 games and amassed 71 1/3 innings as the team’s second starter. Kulina and Pastel both made nine appearances each with eight and six starts respectively. Kulina’s 3.78 ERA was tops among the team’s starting pitchers.
The team has a total of five players named Jacob on the roster which surely is worth an extra win or two somehow.
18. Spalding Golden Eagles
The Eagles have a solid group of talented and proven players. SU returns each of their three top starting pitchers and have added bullpen depth. The Eagles were one of the last teams left out of the national tournament which should give them extra motivation this season.
Jack Parisi and Zack Jones were two of the team’s top starting pitchers last season. Both pitched 66 innings and were firing fastballs approaching the upper-90s. Parisi held opposition to a .204 batting average, finished with a 2.47 ERA and struck out 81 batters. Jones allowed hitters to reach base more often as he allowed 61 hits, but he issued half as many walks and left more runners stranded. His season ERA was 2.47. Aaron Blake and Peyton Hood threw 50 innings between them with 62 strikeouts. Each will be back in the bullpen. Freshman Garrett Mathews, a 6-foot-5 hurler from the local area, may make an immediate impact.
Eric Meyer and Garrett Wilson lead an offense which returns six players who made at least 20 starts last season. Meyer was the SLIAC Player of the Year after batting .373 with 14 doubles and 10 home runs. Meyer has an interesting backstory as he began his college career at Transylvania but left without taking to the diamond. He then admittedly got involved in drugs and stopped playing for three seasons. He applied to Spalding where the previous coach had recruited him and earned a spot on the roster. Wilson slashed .368/.418/515. Those are impressive numbers are down from the year prior when he was the conference player of the year and batted .470 with 15 doubles and eight triples. If those two are each able to match or approach their previous top seasons, it could be extremely detrimental to opposing pitchers’ ERAs. Evan Trentman could make that imposing duo as trio as he is on the precipice of a breakout year. Last season he improved his average nearly 100 points (from .274 to .367) while also increasing his power and stolen base numbers. There is a notable drop-off in production following those three which is concerning regarding their offensive potential, but fortunately their pitching staff is solid. Freshman Jarrett Wantye could break into the lineup (as well as the rotation).
19. Rowan Profs
The Profs spent almost all of last season in the top ten and were the top ranked team in the preseason. However, those rankings were based on the output of an extremely talented senior class who have all moved on (two of which were selected in the MLB draft). While not as intimidating as last season, they still field an excellent club thanks to several transfers and a good freshman class.
Seniors Alex Kokos and Mitch Walker will return to hold down the right side of the defense. Kokos was a First Team All-New Jersey Athletic Conference performer for the second consecutive season. Last season he batted .333 with 19 doubles and 11 stolen bases. Walker led the team with a .444 batting average and 105 total bases and was tenth in the nation with 75 hits. Third baseman Nick Schooley batted .319 and Michael Manganella played well in limited action as he hit .397 in 25 games.
Ryan McIsaac hit .368 with 11 home runs to help Cumberland County College to the NJCAA national title and was initially headed to D-I High Point, but will play for the Profs instead. Trip McCaffrey played in 24 games at D-I UMass-Lowell. He didn’t hit well for the River Hawks but reportedly has regained his stroke. Another transfer, Ryan Mostrangeli. hit .325 at Rowan Burlington JC.
The Profs pitching prospects are concerning as they will be without their top three starters and closer who each decimated opposition last season. The team does retain Jeremy Dyzenhaus and Drew Ryback who pitched well and each started seven games, but they pale in comparison to last year’s aces. Dan Corvo pitched primarily out of the bullpen and struck out 36 batters in 30 2/3 innings with a 2.64 ERA. Transfer Don Zellman struck out 145 batters in 113 innings over two seasons at Ocean County College with only 22 walks. His arm and veteran presence will be welcomed on the mound while some of the younger arms find their stride.
20. Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets
RMC finished last season 28-10-1 and won their second straight Old Dominion Athletic Conference regular season title but were undeservingly left at home when NCAA regional play began last spring. With a super-sized senior class which includes five position players who played in the 2018 College World Series and three pitchers who logged CWS innings, the team should put up marks impossible to overlook this year.
Mike Nickles, the 2019 ODAC Player of the Year, is one of six everyday players who started at least 36 games. Nickles led the team in batting at .358 and hit 12 doubles, five triples and seven home runs. His brother Shawn started every game and bit .399 with 12 stolen bases. Ryan Duphorn the team’s leadoff hitter and centerfielder batted .308 with 16 stolen bases. Zach Evans, the team’s senior shortstop batted .296 and only committed eight errors. Catcher Reece Yeargain will also be back along with Jacob Selden who hit .338 in 22 games.
Michael Zubovich and John Reynolds are the team’s top starting pitchers for 2020. Zubovich had a perfect 8-0 record and a 3.33 ERA. In 70 1/3 innings on the mound he struck out 74 and only issued 13 walks. Reynolds pitched 40 2/3 innings and finished with a 3.98 ERA. A third Nickles brother, Matt, who is the twin of Michael, will be a fourth-year starter on the team. While throwing at RMC he has amassed a 114 2/3 innings on the mound and has a 4.47 ERA. Additional staff support will come from Hayden Moore. Moore pitched his first three seasons at VCU where he appeared in 45 games and had a cumulative 3.17 ERA. He has joined the Jackets for his senior season.
21. Chapman Panthers
The Panthers 2019 title was received largely in part to a trio of magnificent starting pitchers. Tyler Peck, Jonathan Hernandez and Mason Collins combined to throw 329 of 506 2/3 innings last season – that an astonishing 65 percent of the total. None of the three will be back this year which is an enormous amount of innings – not to mention talent – to replace. They do retain Nick Garcia who threw masterfully from the backend of the bullpen. In 30 appearances he accrued 56 innings and only allowed 31 hits to limit opposition to a .156 batting average. His season ending ERA was a sensational 0.64. Cody Turner excelled in a relief role as well. He had a 2.98 ERA and made 32 appearances on the year. He totaled 51 1/3 innings and struck out 46. Riley Glenn was primarily a reliever but did make a pair of starts. He had a 3.38 ERA over 34 2/3 innings.
Many of last year’s regulars are back and should be improved to keep the team in games while the pitching develops. Seven players from last season were underclassman including a pair of excellent hitting freshman in Brad Shimabuku and Miguel Cebedo. Shimabuku led the team with a .340 batting average. Cebedo hit .310. The top hitter overall from last year’s club was Henry Zeisler. He’ll back in the outfield for the Panthers. He batted .305 with 11 doubles, three triples and six home runs.
Joe Jimenez, Aaron Wong, Drew Littwin and Mack Cheli will also be back on campus. None of them ripped the cover off the ball, but the quartet combined to hit 46 doubles and earned a number of walks and HBPs for a solid on-base percentage.
22. Swarthmore Garnet
Swarthmore’s season prospects are very high as the club retained the wealth of the roster which led them to a 27-12 record. They’ll also be looking to correct the wrong which left them at home for the extended NCAA postseason. To end the year the Garnet won their last eight games against opponents that had a combined 148-58 record but alas didn’t receive an at-large bid.
The team retained five everyday batters who started at least 36 games and each of them batted at least .335. Cole Beeker batted .393 with 21 doubles and five home runs to finish the season with a .647 slugging percentage. Over the summer he played on the Winter Park Diamond Dogs of the Florida Collegiate Summer League and was an All Star. Beeker was named an All-Centennial First Team selection as well as a number of other honors. Holden Bridge was second the team batting last season as he finished the year at .421 with 12 doubles and 16 stolen bases. Michael Sepe and Luke Mutz, who held down the middle of the infield also return. Each provided solid defense and offense. Sepe hit .336 and Mutz batted .354.
Three quality pitcher who started at least five games are back, capped by Sawyer Lake and Jack Corkey. Lake led the team in innings at 55 1/3 and struck out 46 batters with 11 walks. His ERA on the year was 2.77. Corkey only allowed 37 hits and 14 walks in 44 innings while striking out 43. His ERA of 2.05 the lowest on the club who threw at least 15 innings. Ryan Warm totaled 54 innings and ended the season with a 3.50 ERA. Zach Camp put up promising numbers for a freshman as be appeared in 13 games with four spot starts.
23. Tufts Jumbos
The experienced Jumbos return six offense players from last season who earned at least 100 at bats. That sextet batted a collective .330. Peter DeMaria and Kyle Cortese are the most fearsome of the group. DeMaria led the team with a .361 batting average and an All-New England Small College Athletic Conference First Team selection as well as the conference’s Rookie of the Year. Cortese established an NESCAC Championship record for home runs in a game (3) and in a championship (5). The team is particularly solid of defense and offense with centerfielder and leadoff hitter Justin Mills who batted .352 with a .452 on base percentage last season and second baseman Elias Varinos who hit .358. Deceptively speedy JP Knight batted .308 for the Jumbos last season and went on to hit .304 with 15 stolen bases over of the summer for the Brockton Rox of the Florida Collegiate Baseball League. Third baseman Ryan Daues was not included in the half-dozen returners mentioned earlier, but he’s a much-welcomed returnee as well. The California native was batting .333 in 12 games before breaking his wrist.
Adrian Tucker and Brent Greele started 15 games between them and totaled 108 1/3 innings on the mound. They have 3.94 and 3.27 ERAs respectively. Tucker, who was only a freshman, struck out a team-high 50 batters and this will be Greele’s third season in the rotation. Innings were well divided among the rest of the roster with an additional seven pitchers back who made at least 10 appearances on the mound. The pitching depth gets an additional boost from Brad Marchetti who appeared in 17 games with 36 1/3 innings in 2017. He missed the past two years due to injury and could be the best hurler on the team if he regains his previous form.
24. Babson Beavers
The Beavers won 39 games last season, which set a school record for win for the third year in a row, and advanced to the DIII College World Series for the first time in program history. The team returns 27 players from last year’s club which includes six of its top run producers and three starting pitchers.
Babson’s offense took a bit of a beating over the summer as four players who started at least 45 of the team’s 49 games graduated. Coaches are looking to prove they can reload and contend once again. There are several exceptional everyday players back on the diamond.
Senior outfielder Jake Oliger is the straw that stirs the Babson drink as he led the team in batting average at .344 and total bases with 101. He also hit eight home runs and stole 15 bases. He was one of the top high school prospects from Connecticut and stayed to play in northeast. His patience at the place also pushed his on-base percentage to a robust .458. Matt Valente is also a senior and has a career collegiate batting average of .297. Valente was a big reason the Beavers advanced to the CWS as the went 4-for-6 with two walks and three RBI in the Super Regionals against Cortland. Catcher Sean Harrington batted .310 but finished with a .482 on-base percentage thanks to 41 walks. As with Oliger and Valente, Harrington is a season hoping to finish his playing career in the final eight. Josh Yellen redshirted at the College of Charleston last season and will take to the diamond for Babson this spring.
The pitching staff is in better shape with three hurlers returning who started at least six games.
Tyler Bell and Michael Nocchi had 2.47 and 3.45 ERAs respectively. Bell compiled 37 strikeouts in 51 innings while only allowing four walks. Nocchi struck out 45 in 47 innings and only walked 13. They will be rejoined in the rotation by Jordy Allard started who went 8-1 with a 4.13 ERA as a sophomore. Henry Leake was exceptional out of the bullpen last season. He appeared in 24 games and threw 27 1/3 innings. While on the mound he limited opposition to a 1.98 ERA and stuck out 37 batters while only allowed 22 hits and nine walks. Riley Teevens showed great promise in high school and was one of Massachusetts’ top prep RHPs. He missed last season due to injury but is expected to join the rotation this year.
25. TCNJ Lions
The Lions have one of the most valuable players on their roster in senior catcher David Cardona. The New Jersey native astonishingly slashed .430/.505/.612 which included 15 doubles and five home runs. He only struck out 11 times and threw out 12 of 33 potential base stealers. Jacob Simon finished second to Cardona in each of the three slash categories as he batted .359, had an .455 on-base percentage and slugged .590. His seven home runs were tops on the team. Gary Otten finished third on the team in average with a .342 mark and started all 44 games at third base. Thomas Persichetti, the Lions regular centerfielder will also be back. He batted .285 with 10 doubles, four triples and five home runs while also providing 13 stolen bases. Chris Cote, who batted .306 at Mercer County JC, will add to the attack.
The pitching staff has their three-quarters of their top starting pitchers back in Peter Nielsen, Michael Walley and Matt Volpe. Nielsen had a 2.47 ERA, threw three complete games and struck out 50 batters while issuing only 10 walks. Walley amassed 68 innings on the mound in which he held opposition to a .224 batting average and threw four complete games. Volpe was the starting pitcher in each of his eight appearances and only allowed 28 hits in 40 innings. Opposition batted .196 against him and his ERA was 3.76. Senior Nickolas Kleftogiannis threw the final two crucial innings of a combined no-hitter and has been solid each of his three previous seasons out of the bullpen.
2020 NCAA Division III Top 20 Prospects
|1||Nick Garcia||RHP||L-R||6-3||210||Chapman||San Carlos||CA|
|2||Austin Smith||RHP||R-R||6-3||205||Southwestern||Cedar Park||TX|
|5||Allen Murphy||OF/RHP||R-L||6-0||175||St. John Fisher||Richburg||NY|
|6||Calvin Bush||RHP||R-R||6-2||210||Concordia (Texas)||Austin||TX|
|8||Matt Koperniak||OF||L-R||6-0||185||Trinity (Conn.)||Adams||MA|
|9||Joey Stock||RHP||R-R||6-5||210||Saint John’s (Minn.)||Cold Spring||MN|
|10||Ryan Loutos||RHP||R-R||6-5||215||Washington University||Barrington||IL|
|13||Chandler Brierley||LHP||L-L||6-8||205||Stevens Institute of Technology||Ridgewood||NJ|
|15||Vincent Timpanelli||C||R-R||6-2||200||Ramapo||Staten Island||NY|
|19||Wyatt Ulrich||OF/RHP||R-R||6-1||170||Saint John’s (Minn.)||Indus||MN|