Wildcat Baseball Team Looks to Extend Playoff Streak to Lucky #13
Good, with the potential to get better. That's how Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball coach Mike Stanzione looks at his program.
Through nine seasons under Stanzione, the Wildcats have compiled an impressive 189-98 record, including 12 straight playoff appearances and four conference championships during the fall and spring seasons, by being mostly offense-oriented.
"I think most coaches who play against us will say our main strength has always been offense. We can score a lot of runs. We usually have very good offensive production," the coach assessed. "And, we've also been lucky enough to have very good pitching."
"The thing we struggle with is our defense. We've always struggled with that. Even though we're thin this year in the infield, when we get things straightened out this may be one of the best defensive teams I've ever had. If that comes to pass, I think we'll be very successful," Stanzione added. "If we can tighten up our defense and limit the amount of runs the other team scores, then we're going to be all the more tough."
Penn College takes a 5-3 record into its Eastern Pennsylvania College Conference game at 1 p.m. Sept. 12 at Keystone College. Keystone, new to the league this year, and Northampton County Community College are expected to be among the league's elite.
Leading off the batting order for the 'Cats will be freshman center fielder Eric Wolanski (a State College High School graduate). Following, in order, are freshman shortstop Ryan Brelsford (Montoursville), freshman right fielder Dustin Nash (North Carroll, Md.), sophomore catcher Damon DeTato (Montoursville), sophomore designated hitter Justin Howe (Williamsport), sophomore left fielder Craig Erdman (Huntingdon), sophomore first baseman Ryan Wagner (Northwestern Lehigh), freshman second baseman Jerry Wilson (Tyrone) and freshman third baseman Jeff Lloyd (Cocalico). Through the early season, DeTato is hitting .556.
The starting pitching rotation consists of sophomore Stan Bair, a left-hander from Dover, and freshmen Alex White (Montoursville), Ryan Adams (Archbishop Wood) and Kevin Driscoll (Central Catholic), all right-handers. Right-hander Zachary Meck, a freshman from Brandywine, is the club's top reliever. Bair, Erdman, Howe, Wagner and Francis McDonald, a sophomore second baseman/pitcher from North Schuylkill, are returning starters from last year's fall team, which went 18-6, losing to Northampton in the league championship game.
Gary Reigal, a freshman from North Pocono, is considered by Stanzione as the team's best outfielder and platoons in right field.
"He's a tremendous glove. Great defense," the coach said.
Stanzione also expects big things from Elliott Marchioni, a freshman outfielder from Montoursville, once he recovers from an ankle injury. Rounding out the roster are freshmen pitcher/outfielder Tim Brown (Kennedy Christian), catcher Kirk Johnston (Huntingdon), pitcher Jeremy Parker (Canton), outfielder/pitcher Aaron Phillips (Susquehanna) and second baseman Keith Saboski (Loyalsock Township). Parker is sidelined with an elbow injury.
Because there are no athletic scholarship opportunities for Penn College players, Stanzione has built the program using a different approach.
"A lot of schools will see an athlete they want and they'll say, 'Come to our school.' It's a little more difficult at Penn College because we're so specified in our academics and the kind of academics we have, technical things - a lot of high-level technical trades. If they're not interested in those kinds of subjects, coming here is silly," Stanzione explained.
"We have a good Internet working. Our Web site, we get a lot of hits on that, and, once the kids hit us, I go after them. . . . Basically, they show up and I explain to them why we're the best program to be at within the interest area that they have," he said. "And, as you can see by our record, we've been lucky enough to attract a lot of good athletes."
Looking to the remainder of the season, Stanzione said, "The first goal we have every year is to make the playoffs. Once we get to those situations, then our second goal is to do well, win the playoffs and get to the PCAA (Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association) championship. We're going to work hard to attain that this year, so we can make our 13th straight playoff appearance."