Baldwin Wallace University Looks for Baseball Success in 2006
A year ago, Head Coach Bob Fisher's team finished 18-12 overall and 10-8 in the OAC while dodging numerous rain drops that forced his Yellow Jackets to have its first non-20-win season in four years. This season, Fisher returns a soid nucleus of hitters and pitchers to challenge for a spot in the OAC tourney.
In the field, Fisher returns five everyday starters, including senior All-OAC outfielders Mike Farrell (Wickliffe) and Dan Melito (Massillon/ Washington) and senior Academic All-OAC second baseman Kevin Brown (Cuyahoga Falls). BW also returns two other starters in junior third baseman Nick Quarando (Amherst/ Steele) and junior centerfielder Matt Green (Elyria/ Senior) as well as junior catcher Bob Storesina (Canton/ GlenOak) who split time as a starter a year ago.
Farrell and Melito both return as two-time All-OAC players. A year ago, Farrell hit .381 with nine doubles, two triples, six homeruns and a team-leading 38 runs batted-in. He also scored 20 runs and had a .465 on base average and struck out just seven times in 97 at-bats. Melito hit .373 with 10 doubles, a triple, two homers and 17 RBI, scored 26 runs and had a .459 on base average. Brown hit a career-high .312 with six doubles, 25 runs scored, three steals and had a team-leading .481 on base average.
Farrell and Melito are expected to be joined in the outfield by Green and sophomore Shaun Slater (Wooster/ Norwayne) among others. Green hit .308 in 2005 with two doubles, 15 runs scored, 11 RBI and a team-leading five steals. Slater showed strong promise in his initial year at BW and hit .360 with two homers and nine RBI in just 25 at-bats.
Probably joining Brown in the infield will be Quarando, at third, senior Matt Wilson (Canton/ South), at first, and junior Derek Skapes (North Olmsted) at shortstop; but that all could change with numerous position battles being waged during winter practices.
Quarando transferred into BW a year ago and had a positive impact by hitting .276 with three doubles and three homers, scoring 15 runs and stealing three bases. He also has the ability to help the pitching staff as a spot reliever out of the bullpen. Wilson hit .224 a year ago with two doubles, one triple and five RBI. Skapes saw limited action and hit .200 (one-of-five) with a homer and two RBI.
Behind the plate, look for senior Ryan Strassinis (Cortland/ Lakeview) to start and split time with Soresina and freshman Nick Haught (Cuyahoga Falls/ Walsh Jesuit). When Storesina doesn't catch, he also might DH or be used in relief as a pitcher.
On the mound, Fisher returns two of his five starters from last season in juniors Clayton Kynkor (Auburn Township/ Kenston) and Jim Wochele (Richmond Heights). In addition, junior J.D. Fullerton (Cuyahoga Falls) was one of the top relievers and he is back to steady the bullpen. Also, junior Brian Pille (Lorain/ Catholic) is back after showing some late season potential at the varsity level.
Kynkor and Wochele are battling for the title of staff ace. Kynkor made eight appearance in '05, including five starts, and had a perfect 4-0 record with a 3.81 earned run average and 15 strikeouts in 28 and one-third innings pitched. Wochele was 3-1 a year ago with a 3.74 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 21 and two-thirds inning s pitched.
In Fullerton, Fisher and Pitching Coach Cliff Cook have a durable and dependable spot starter and long reliever. He appeared in nine games, all in relief, and was 1-0 with 10 strikeouts in 16 and two-thirds innings of work. Pille returns after making two appearances, spanning six and one-third innings with a save and a 0-0 record. In addition, Fisher and Cook will look to junior Kevin Shenker (Twinsburg) to pitch long relief and may move Storesina into the "stopper" role.
Overall, the Yellow Jackets have both the offense, defense and pitching to again be a factor in both the OAC title chase and race for a season-ending four-team OAC Tournament berth.