Clarion U. Baseball Opens Spring Trip vs ESU Today

DanverWILSON, North Carolina – Clarion University’s Baseball team will open its 2015 season with a Spring Trip to Wilson, North Carolina from Saturday March 7 through Monday March 9, playing 6 games in three days.

[Photo: Derek Danver (2B – Clearfield)]

The Golden Eagles open their 2015 season with a doubleheader against East Stroudsburg on Saturday starting at 6pm, then play Kutztown at 10am and Pitt-Johnstown at 4pm on Sunday, before closing the trip with a doubleheader against Kutztown on Monday starting at 5pm.

The PSAC-West opening doubleheader is against IUP on Saturday, March 14 at Showers Field in DuBois, while the home opener at Memorial Stadium is set for Friday, March 20 vs Mercyhurst. All PSAC-West dh’s begin at 1pm.

“We’re really looking forward to the trip and getting some games under our belt,” said eighth year head coach Mike Brown. “The new season is here and we’re ready to go. We’re excited about this year’s team and we expect to be very competitive.”

BROWN BEGINS EIGHTH SEASON AS HEAD COACH

Brown begins his 8th year as head coach after being a volunteer assistant for his first two seasons in 2006 and 2007. Last year the Golden Eagles showed solid improvement ending with an overall record of 8-30, while posting a 5-23 record in the PSAC-West.

In 2013 the Golden Eagles finished 4-40 overall and 4-20 in the rugged PSAC-West. In 2012 Clarion was 12-28 overall and a quality 9-15 in the PSAC-West, staying in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season.

The Golden Eagles enter the 2015 season with its most veteran lineup in in years. Clarion has 6 seniors, 7 juniors, 9 sophomores and only 7 freshmen, compared to two years ago when the Eagles had 12 freshmen and 15 first year players. Brown feels the veteran presence will help his team compete for a PSAC-West playoof spot.

“We are a more veteran team,” reflected Brown. “They took their lumps a couple years ago, but kept working hard to get better. We feel the time is right now to get some payback. We’re a solid team in all phases and we’re hoping to make a run at the PSAC Playoffs in 2015 – That’s our goal.”

DANVER, PIRRITANO, THOMAS & J. HOLMBERG 2015 EAGLE CAPTAINS

Providing quality leadership on the field will be seniors Derek Danver (2B – Clearfield), Drew Pirritano (CF – Scranton/West Scranton), Ben Thomas (C – Quarryville/Solanco) and Joe Holmberg (RF – Wilcox/Johnsonburg) as 2015 captains.

Danver, a 2-year starter, played in 38 games in 2014 and hit .269 ((32 of 119), with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 10 rbi’s, and 12 runs scored. He also batted .234 in 2013 (22 of 94) with 3 doubles, 1 home run and 7 rbi. He scored 10 runs and stole 2 bases.

Pirritano, the Eagles leadoff hitter and center fielder, batted .255 last year (28 of 110) with 2 rbi’s, 21 runs scored and 6 stolen bases. He also hit .277 in 2013 (38 of 137) with 6 doubles, 1 home run, 8 rbi’s and 12 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. The 2013 Rawlings ABCA Regional Gold Glove winner, has a career batting average of .264 (68 of 258) with 7 doubles, 1 hr, 10 rbi’s, 29 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. He has a career fielding percentage of .995 – making only 1 error in three seasons.

Thomas, a quality catcher who begins his third season as a starting receiver, hit .206 (14 of 68) with 4 doubles and 4 rbi’s. Brown likes the way Thomas handles the staff and his defense behind the dish. He has played in 49 career games while starting 32.

Joe Holmberg will be starting in right field and is coming off his best season in 2014 where he was second on the team with a .341 batting average collecting 30 hits in 88 at bats with 1 double, 16 rbi’s, and 10 runs scored. A three year veteran, Holmberg is a key to the Eagles success in 2015.

“I am really looking to our captains to provide great leadership for us this year,” said Brown. “They know what it takes to win and know how to guide our team in the right direction.”

FALK, LOPEZ, PONSOLL & DANVER ANCHOR INFIELD PLAY

The infield returns plenty of talent in sophomore first baseman Tyler Falk (Fombell/Riverside) at first base, Joey Lopez (Jr. Beaver Falls/Blackhawk) at shortstop, Josh Ponsoll (Jr. Edinboro/General McLane) at third base and captain Derek Danver at second.

Falk, the PSAC-West “Freshman of the Year” in 2014 and a second team PSAC-West selection last year, led the team as a true freshman with a .363 average (41 of 113) clubbing 5 doubles, 3 triples, 18 rbi’s and 16 runs scored.

Lopez, beginning his third season as the Eagles starting shortstop, hit .245 (23 of 94) in 2014 with 1 double, 13 rbi’s and 10 runs scored. He also sparkled in the field with a .961 fielding percentage.

Ponsoll, who started his career at third, moved to the outfield and back to third base, is a solid fielder with a strong arm and a quick bat. He hit .233 last year (21 of 90) with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 9 rbi’s and 13 runs scored.

Also looking for time in the infield will be freshman Matt Kamenicky (Gibsonia/Pine Richland) at second, short and third, along with Wes Lang (Fr. Oil City) at second and Nathan Bonfardine (So. Corsica/Brookville) at third.

Kamenicky is a talented and versatile freshman, Lang is a former catcher who has moved to second base, while Bonfardine hit .214 in 16 games last year.

The designated hitter and backup first baseman will be senior Jordan Mesoraco (Punxsutawney), the brother of Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco. Last year Jordan had an off season hitting only .157 (8 of 53) with 1 double. Brown thinks Jordan will return to his 2013 form where he batted .303 (27 of 89) to lead the Eagles, with 3 doubles, 5 runs scored and 2 rbi’s. He also added 14 walks.

OUTFIELD PLAY AN EAGLE STRENGTH

Coach Brown feels his outfield will be one of the best in the PSAC with Gold Glove Drew Pirritano in center, Joe Holmberg in right (both captains), and second team All PSAC-West choice Mike Lockhart (Jr. Waterford/Fort LeBoeuf) in left field.

Lockhart hit .265 (27 of 102) with 8 doubles, 2 hr’s, 12 rbi’s and 12 runs scored in 2014 as a utility player. He also batted .182 (19 of 99) with 4 doubles, 1 hr and 3 rbi’s in 2013.

Also seeing time in the outfield will be Mitchell Holmberg (So. Wilcox/Johnsonburg), Austin Mike (Fr. Aliquippa/Hopewell), Adam Polites (So. N. Cambria) and Brady Andrews (Fr. Mansfield). Holmberg played in 29 games a year ago gaining valuable experience. He hit .200 (11 of 55) with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 10 rbi’s, 14 runs scored and 4 stolen bases.

THOMAS, MESORACO & LAURITO BEHIND THE DISH

Captain Ben Thomas and Jordan Mesoraco will likely do a bulk of the catching. Sophomore transfer Brian Laurito (So. Hastings/No. Cambria/Frederick CC), a talented catcher with a bright future, could also see plenty of time wearing the “tools” in 2015.

VETERAN PITCHING STAFF READY FOR BEST SEASON

Clarion’s starting pitching staff will feature Tyler Delval (Jr. Bentleyville/Bentworth), Kane McCall (So. Rimersburg/Union), Troy Kumar (Sr. Oakmont/Riverview), Sean White (So. Slippery Rock), Alex Borofski (Jr. Pgh – Seton LaSalle) and Josh Friel (Jr. Butler/Butler CC) as its mainstays.

Delval, who started 8 games last year, posted a 2-5 overall record with a 5.23 ERA. He tossed 43 innings and gave up 47 hits, struck out 25 and walked only 16. He tossed winning shutouts against UPJ and and Gannon last year. He pitched 47 innings in 2013 with a 1-7 record and a quality 4.98 ERA.

McCall, who earned PSAC-West Pitcher of the Week honors, was 4-4 last year with an ERA of 7.14. He pitched 46.2 innings, gave up 48 hits, struck out 10 and walked 34.

Kumar, who started 2 games and was 0-2 last year, is healthy to start 2015 and is expected to have his best mound season.

White, who made 5 starts a year ago and pitched 3 complete games, was 0-5 as a freshman with an ERA of 7.57. He struck out 17 and walked only 13 in 27.1 innings.

Borofski, a 2-year starter, posted a 1-4 record in 2014 pitching 32.1 innings, a 6.40 ERA, striking out 11 and walking 16. He tossed a complete game, 3-2 win vs Bloomsburg last year. He also tossed 16 innings as a freshman with no decisions.

Friel, a transfer from Butler Community College, is a quality pitcher that Brown feels will give quality innings to the Eagle staff this season.

Closers are expected to be Kyle Armagost (So. Boyers/Moniteau), Austin Mike (Aliquippa/Hopewell), Josh Ponsoll and possibly Joey Lopez, while Adam Polites, Chase Gorski (Fr. Centerville, Md.), Tom McCloskey (Fr. Meadville), Jason Gerland (Jr. West Chester East) and Brendan Fitzgerald (So. Pennsburg) are expected to see time in a variety of situations.

CLARION NOTES: Prior to coaching at Clarion, Brown was the head baseball coach at Redbank Valley from 1998-2005 (8 seasons). In those eight years he had an overall record of 105-44 (70%) and a KSAC mark of 87-27 (76%). His teams won 3 KSAC titles (98, 99, 2000) and were D-9 runners-up twice (2000, 2004). He was named the Coach of the Year by the Clarion News in 1999 and the Kittanning Leader Times in 2004… The PSAC-West added Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill last year, while Lock Haven moved to the Eastern Division… The West teams now are Gannon, Mercyhurst, IUP, Slippery Rock, California, UPJ and Seton Hill … With 4-games against each opponent, that makes a 28-game league schedule – the most in the division’s history.


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