BEREA, Ohio – With ninth-year head coach Brian Harrison at the helm, the Baldwin Wallace University baseball team will aim to repeat as Ohio Athletic Conference Champions in 2019.
Harrison will return 22 letterwinners and two All-OAC athletes from last year's squad that finished the season with a school-record 33 wins and tied for third at 11-7 in the OAC, before winning the schools' first conference championship since the 1985 season.
Returning for his senior season is American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-Mideast Region selection and All-OAC right-handed-pitcher Danny Cody (Medina/Brecksville-Broadview Heights). Cody made a school-record 14 starts, going 7-3 with a career-low 3.13 earned run average (ERA), and led the team and OAC with a school-record 100 strikeouts.
Filling out the rotation are senior left-hander Jack Raines (Akron/Archbishop Hoban), junior left-hander Michael Hubert (Cincinnati/Oak Hills), and junior pitcher/catcher Max Adams (Massillon/Washington). Raines made a team and career-high 22 appearances last season while compiling a 4-2 record with a 3.92 ERA, two saves, and was tied for second on the team with 55 strikeouts. Hubert was second on the team with 21 appearances, including two starts, and compiled a 1-2 record with a career-low 2.27 ERA. He also struck out a career-high 37 hitters in a career-best 43.2 innings pitched. Adams made one start in 10 appearances and recorded a career-low 3.31 ERA while striking out a career-high 11 batters.
Junior left-handed-pitcher Spencer Berg (New Albany) made 15 relief appearances while posting a 2-1 record with a 3.52 ERA, as well as two saves and struck out a career-best 21 batters. Sophomore right-hander Nick Smith (Mentor) made nine appearances with five starts, compiled a 3-0 record and struck out 15 batters. Seeing time last year and looking to add depth to the rotation this year are junior right-handed-pitcher Spencer Aukerman (Medina), sophomore Justin Miller (Hilliard/Hilliard Darby) and sophomore right-handed-pitcher Jeremy McClure (Mentor).
Senior Dylan Nieto (Brunswick/St. Ignatius), junior Ty McKinney (Uniontown/South), and freshmen Garrett Miller (McMurray), Drew Wilson (Sagamore Hills/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy), JT Mazula (Pittsburgh/North Hills), Garret McLeod (Medina), Maxwell Cebulak (Oakmont/Pittsburgh Central Catholic), Brandon Skory (Parma/Valley Forge), Matthew Schutz (Avon/St. Edward High School), Henry Neumann (Broadview Heights/Padua Franciscan) and Braydon Gibson (Salem) will compete for more innings in this campaign.
Coming off a stellar sophomore season is ABCA/Rawlings All-American selection and All-OAC outfielder Dudley Taw (Sheffield Lake/Brookside), who led the team with a career-high .385 batting average, as well as a career-bests in slugging percentage (.714) and on-base average (.467). Taw also led the team with 70 hits, 16 doubles, and 14 home runs, while he was second on the squad with 59 runs batted in.
Providing veteran experience to the outfield will be seniors Academic All-OAC Reese Albright (Parma/North Royalton) and Andy Blough (Wooster/Smithville), who appeared in 29 and 25 games, respectively. Albright made 19 starts, batted .242, drove in eight runs and stole seven bases. Blough tallied one walk and three runs scored. Filling out the upperclassmen in the outfield is Academic All-OAC junior Brandon Dim (Solon) and junior Sam Sustersic (Richfield/Revere High School). Dim made 17 appearances with one start, had four walks, one RBI and four runs scored. Sophomore Jack Lehew (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) and freshman Conner Warner (Pittsburgh/North Hills) will look to gain valuable experience from a veteran heavy outfield.
Sophomore Alex Ludwick (Brunswick/Padua Franciscan) will solidify the infield after starting in 45 games, hit for a .331 average with 59 hits, stole 14 bases and knocked in 39 RBIs. Power hitting senior first baseman Philip Wells (Buffalo, N.Y./St. Joseph's Collegiate) and junior second baseman Jacob Bonner (Akron/Akron Archbishop Hoban) will look to contribute even more after solid campaigns last year. Wells was named to the 2018 New York Regional All-Tournament team, after appearing in 42 games and starting in 29, hit .338, had one triple and one home run, while driving in 26 runs. Bonner made 45 starts and batted .303, while setting a career-high .395 on-base-percentage and .429 slugging percentage.
Rounding out the infield upperclassmen are senior Griffin Watterson (Bay Village/Bay) who made 13 appearances and six starts. Senior Kyle Pennington (Wadworth) started 16 games and knocked in eight runs, and junior Academic All-OAC Lane Niemann (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South) made three starts and recorded a career-best five RBIs. Sophomore Luke Razzante (Highland Heights/Mayfield) will look to add to a solid freshman year where he made seven starts, batted in two runs and stole one base.
Junior utility player Scott Kirchhoff (Toledo/Sylvania Northview), junior utility player Racco DiLauro (Akron/Springfield), junior Kane Zellers (Salem) and sophomore Tony LoParo (Avon/Elyria Catholic) will fill an any spots with their defensive abilities.
Anchoring the defense from behind the plate will be senior catcher Asa Adams (Sarver, Pa./Knoch). Adams appeared in 20 games, making six starts, hit .268 with a career-high four doubles and eight runs batted in. He also scored a career-high 10 runs and stole one base. Junior Academic All-OAC Jake Smith (Medina) and sophomore Adam Celidonia (Coraoplis, Pa./Montour) will platoon where need be.
BW will open up the 2019 campaign on the road with a non-conference doubleheader against Anderson (Ind.) University on Feb. 16.