BEREA, Ohio -- The Baldwin Wallace University baseball team seeks to win the 2014 Ohio Athletic Conference title and return to the NCAA Division III national tournament. The Yellow Jackets are coming off back-to-back seasons with a school-record 27 victories and are 54-26 the past two seasons.
The Yellow Jackets open the season with games against host Shawnee State University and Concordia (Mich.) University on Saturday, February 22. BW also will travel to Transylvania, Kentucky the following weekend (March 1-2) to play a three-game series with Transylvania University. The annual Spring Break Trip to Port Charlotte, Florida is from March 9-15.
Fourth-Year Head Coach Brian Harrison, has compiled a 212-172 career mark, including a 71-43 mark in his first three seasons at BW. He returns 28 lettermen, including seven starting position players, three starting pitchers and his top reliever from 2013. Harrison will rely on an experienced infield and a deep pitching staff to help lead the Yellow Jackets to reach their goals this season.
The key for Harrison will be finding replacements for All-American and Academic All-American centerfielder Brendan Toughey '13 and four-year starting outfielder Nolan Neuschaefer '13. Harrison has a bevy of offensive talent returning to a team that hit .307 and scored 308 runs and stole a school-record 106 bases in 40 games.
On the mound, Harrison will have to replace two starters, including his ace for the past two years, Pat Havens '13, and the school's all-time saves leader in Jon Tenley '13. But like his offense, he has plenty of talented pitchers to rely upon.
The infield is loaded with talent and will be led by five returning All-Ohio Athletic Conference players in seniors Brad Gugliotta (Twinsburg) and Jay Yost (Tiffin/Hopewell-Loudon), who missed last season with an illness, and juniors Kyle Chontos (Pickerington/North), Zach Ferster (Olmsted Falls) and sophomore Mark Zimmerman (Akron/Green). Gugliotta, Yost and Zimmerman could play any of the four positions. Chontos and Ferster also can play in the outfield and/or DH.
In addition, junior shortstop Eric Murphy (Brook Park/Midpark) started most of the season at shortstop, and senior Drew Mahler (Wooster) and sophomore Hunter Handel (Akron/ Green) also saw action last year.
Zimmerman ended the season as the starting second baseman and BW's Outstanding Freshman for 2013. He was a first-team All-OAC choice and batted .324 with eight doubles, one triple, one home run, 23 runs batted-in (RBI) and seven stolen bases. Gugliotta earned second-team All-OAC honors and hit a career-high .383 with seven doubles, a triple, a team-leading 38 RBI and stole 11 bases in 13 attempts. He also earned both Academic All-OAC and CAPITAL ONE Academic All-District 7 honors. As a sophomore in 2012, Gugliotta hit .429 as a part-time player.
Chontos was both the Outstanding Freshman and the Big Stick Award winner in 2012 when he earned second-team All-OAC accolades. That season, he hit .353 (54-for-153) with team-leading totals of 14 doubles, four home runs, 37 RBI and a .526 slugging average. Chontos also scored 42 runs and had one triple and stole six bases in seven attempts. Last spring, he batted .298 with nine doubles, a triple, one homer, 30 RBI and 11 steals in 14 attempts.
In 2012, when Ferster earned first-team All-OAC honors, he played in 40 games, started 36 and hit .344 (42-for-122) with 24 runs scored, four doubles, four triples, two homeruns, 30 RBI and nine stolen bases in 12 attempts. Last spring, he hit .267 with five doubles, 12 RBI and 18 steals in 18 attempts.
In 2012, Yost started at 3B and led the team in hitting at .381 (53-for-139) with 38 runs scored, 11 doubles, one homer, 26 RBI and 10 steals in 12 attempts. His return adds strength and depth and gives Harrison options with both Chontos and Ferster.
Last spring, Murphy started 38 games, mostly at shortstop, and hit .278 with seven doubles, two triples, 32 RBI and nine steals in 14 attempts. In 2012, he played in 35 games and started 34 and hit .295 with 16 runs scored, four doubles, a team-leading five triples, one homerun, 31 RBI and two stolen bases in three attempts.
Mahler played in 12 games last season and batted just .158, but he has a history of hitting well. Two years ago, he batted .325 with two doubles, two triples, eight runs scored and 11 RBI, and for his career, he has scored 21 runs with seven doubles, five triples, one homer and 21 RBI. Handel batted .255 with two doubles and six RBI in 24 games and 12 starts.
In the outfield, junior Alex Green (Pickerington/North) returns as a second-team All-OAC pick. He will be joined by Ferster, Chontos, sophomores Jerry Scholle (Hinckley/Medina Highland) and John Taylor (Stow/Hudson) and senior Kory Gillissie (Parma/St. Ignatius), who missed last season due to an injury suffered during the 2012 football season.
Green earned All-OAC accolades last spring when he hit .361 with eight doubles, three triples, one homer, 29 RBI and four steals in eight attempts. He also started eight games as a freshman when he hit .264 with three doubles, two triples and 14 RBI. Scholle, who started at safety for the football team this fall, hit .282 with two doubles, six RBI and three steals as a freshman. Taylor played in 31 games and started six and hit .237 with a triple, four RBI and two steals. Add in Gillissie, who two years ago played in 23 games and started 16, hit .294 (15-for-51) with 12 runs scored, two doubles, one triple, 10 RBI and two steals.
Behind the plate, seniors Chaz McGrain (Valley City/Olmsted Falls) and Joe Hiller (Twinsburg) return after splitting the duties a year ago. Hiller played in 24 games and started 19 and hit .288 with four doubles, one triple, one homer, 11 RBI and two steals. As a sophomore in 2012, he played in 22 games, including 13 starts, and hit .278 (13-for-54) with five doubles and 14 RBI. McGrain, who transferred to BW from NCAA Division II Ashland University, played in 25 games and started 21 and hit .192 with a double, triple, homer, 12 RBI and four steals.
Returning starters are seniors Jon Capadona (North Royalton) and Cory Waite (Willoughby/ South), juniors Brian Taricska (Bay Village/Bay) and Anthony Alioto Jr. (Mayfield Heights/Mayfield) and sophomores Alex Albright (North Royalton) and Matt Wittels (Lyndhurst/ Brush).
Capadona had a 2-1 record with one save in nine appearances, including four starts in 2013. In 2012, he compiled a 4-1 mark with a 2.60 ERA. He is 7-4 for his career. Waite, who missed most of last year with an injury and received a medical red-shirt, was 1-2 in six appearances and four starts. As a junior, he had a team-low 1.66 earned run average (ERA) in 18 appearances with one save.
Taricska transferred to BW from NCAA Division I power Kent State University and compiled a 0-0 mark in six appearances, including three starts. Alioto Jr. was solid and had a 4-1 mark with a 3.45 ERA in 12 appearances and seven starts. He is 5-1 for his career. Albright started four times and had a 2-1 mark. Wittels pitched strictly out of the bullpen and was 0-1 with a 1.46 ERA In eight appearances.
The bullpen will be led by senior Dylan Fodor (Twinsburg), who made a school-record 19 appearances last spring and had a 3-1 mark with a team-leading 3.21 ERA. He had a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances as a sophomore.
Fodor will be joined by senior Cory Durbin (Canton/GlenOak), juniors Luke Ackerman (Sheffield Lake/Brookside) and Chuck Jones (Kettering/Fairmont) and sophomores Brandon Cichocki (Walled Lake, Mich./Central) and Tom Loeffler (Shaker Heights). Durbin was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in four appearances and eight innings a year ago. Jones was 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA In one appearance. Cichocki was 1-1 with a save and 4.05 ERA in 12 appearances. Loeffler was 0-0 with a save and a 5.03 ERA in 14 appearances, including one start. Ackerman pitched on the junior varsity level.
The Yellow Jackets northern opener is on Tuesday, March 18 at LaRoche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The 2014 OAC schedule begins on Saturday, March 22 when BW hosts Heidelberg University in a doubleheader at Heritage Field at 1 p.m.
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