College Baseball Team Hopes to Continues Its Excellent Tradition

Published 03.14.2002


A tradition of excellence. That's what coach Mike Stanzione has developed over the last decade with his Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball teams.

During that time, the Wildcats have established themselves as one of the premier small college programs in the state by going 204-106, participating in 14 consecutive post-season playoff appearances and winning Eastern Pennsylvania College Conference championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Stanzione was named conference "Coach of the Year" in each of those title-winning seasons, too.

The strength of the program was never more evident than during last fall's season, when Penn College won five of its last six regular season games to jump from fifth to second in the standings and again qualify for the playoffs.

"We'd like to come out and pick up right where we left off, continue to win games and hopefully make our way back into the playoffs and go a little farther," Stanzione said.

"Baseball continually seems to be very competitive no matter which league we're in, fall or spring. It's just a tribute to having a lot of good athletes at Penn College," added Stanzione, as his team prepared for the season opener at 1 p.m. Saturday at Penn State-Berks.

Wildcat teams are known for their potent offenses and effective pitching, but the one area that has lagged somewhat is defense. This spring, however, things could be a little different.

"It's kind of a turnaround. I think we solidified our defense toward the end of last fall and that was the reason for our late-season streak. Our indoor workouts have shown that it's still there. Defensively, it looks real good. Our infield and catcher positions are very strong. If we're able to field a good defensive outfield, that's the key to the whole thing.

"We lost a little firepower from last semester (offensively), but I think we still have a solid nucleus and a good nine-man lineup," Stanzione said.

Leading off and playing center field for the Wildcats will be Eric Wolanski, a freshman from State College. Batting second will be sophomore shortstop T.J. Stevens (East Stroudsburg), while the rest of the batting order consists of freshman designated hitter Ryan Brelsford (Montoursville), third; sophomore catcher Damon DeTato (Montoursville), fourth; sophomore second baseman Justin Howe (Williamsport), fifth; freshman first baseman Zack Meck (Brandywine), sixth; sophomore third baseman Francis McDonald (North Schuylkill), seventh; freshman left fielder James Riley (Conestoga Valley), eighth, and either Mike Niman (Juniata) or David Polenik (Westmont Hilltop), both freshmen, in right field and hitting ninth.

Brelsford led the team during its 15-8 fall season with a .496 batting average, although he's nursing an arm injury.

Starting pitchers will be sophomore Stan Bair (Dover), freshman Tim Brown (Kennedy Christian), freshman Alex White (Montoursville) and Meck. All are right-handed, except Bair. Relief pitchers are McDonald, Wolanski and Polenik.

Rounding out the team are freshmen catcher Justin Barr (State College), catcher-pitcher Shawn Smith (North Pocono) and second baseman Lenny Pasquale (Brownsville).

"We're going to be up against a couple of teams that have always given us trouble - Northampton Community College will always be a thorn in our side, and Delaware County Community College is another nemesis," said Stanzione, noting his club starts the season off with five non-conference opponents before closing against six foes in the EPCC. Penn College plays its home games at Bowman Field, also home to the Williamsport Crosscutters of the Class A New York-Penn League.