Loaded With Freshmen, College Baseball Team Must Mature Quickly

Published 08.22.2002


Going to college usually means growing up in a hurry. For Mike Stanzione, coach of the Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball team, it means that and more.

The 11th-year coach met with 26 players 22 of whom are freshmen for the first time Monday night. They scrimmaged Tuesday and had three days of workouts in preparation for their first game Saturday.

"They're coming together in a hurry," Stanzione assessed. "I think we'll be competitive Saturday (at Bowman Field for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. against defending league champion Westmoreland County Community College)." The same teams play another twin bill starting at 11 a.m. Sunday, also at Bowman Field.

Returnees who will provide the nucleus for the Wildcats are sophomores Ryan Brelsford (a graduate of Montoursville High School), Zack Meck (Brandywine), Devin Driscoll (Allentown Central Catholic) and Eric Wolanski (State College). Brelsford, a third baseman, led the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference in hitting last fall with a .468 average, but sat out the spring season because of tendonitis in an elbow; Wolanski is a pitcher and outfielder; Driscoll will be a spot starter on the mound, and Meck will split time between the mound and first base.

"Those four will be impact players. As far as the freshmen, it's always exciting to get all these new young men in here and see what they can do. There seems to be a lot of talent. We'll find out during our first six (non-conference) games who can handle the college level of competition and that will determine each person's role on the team," Stanzione said.

During the early going, the coach plans to use everybody on his roster, with pitchers getting no more than three innings of work.

Freshmen who have most impressed Stanzione thus far are Travis Pena (pitcher, Williamsport), Ryan Weller (pitcher, Fallston, Md.), Andy Roth (left-handed pitcher, Catasauqua), Adam Ruffner (catcher, Daniel Boone), Joe Falcone (second baseman-pitcher, Coatesville), Mike Daciw (outfielder, Sun Valley) and Dave Felter (outfielder, Montour).

Other freshmen include Mike Akers (pitcher, Muncy), Rickey King (pitcher, Montgomery), John Pollock (second baseman, Mansfield), Travis Fairbanks (third baseman, Athens), Jesse Sager (catcher, Sayre), Kevin Ramberger (pitcher-outfielder, Millersburg), Gabriel Newman (pitcher, Indian Valley), Jason Troutman (catcher, Upper Dauphin), Brent Clever (catcher, Red Lion), Bryan McGinley (designated hitter, North Schuylkill), Ted Kirner (first baseman, Central Bucks West), Eric Hammerschmidt (shortstop, Okemes, Mich.), Robert Petrosky (shortstop, Jersey Shore), James Kash (outfielder, Marion Catholic) and Curtis Taylor (outfielder, Hershey).

"We have a lot of talent and look forward to them getting out there and playing well and doing good things for us," Stanzione said.

Penn College, which is 213-116 under Stanzione, has reached the EPCC playoffs 15 consecutive semesters and, while the coach expects perennial powers Northampton County Community College, Keystone Junior College and Penn State-Abington to be among the top, he is hopeful that his team will be right there, too.

"Our goal every year is to make the playoffs. Obviously it's going to take some work for our team to gel, but we've done it before with this amount of freshmen and we have confidence that we'll be able to do it with these folks," the coach said.

Stanzione also noted that, starting this fall, Williamsport's Bowman Field will be the site of the Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association championships for the next five years.