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Baseball Ready To Make Run at Another AMCC Title, Postseason Berth
03/01/2002

FROSTBURG, MD — High expectations once again surround the Frostburg State baseball program in 2002, and rightly so. With 19 players returning from last year’s team that went 25-16, finished as the runner-up in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference and advanced to the Eastern College Athletic Conference South Region Championship, the Bobcats are aiming for their third AMCC title in the last five years and also have their eyes on a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

FSU, which opens its season Saturday in Newport News, Va., by taking on Rowan at 3:00 p.m. and Christopher Newport at 6:00 p.m., will look to its strong defensive unit to anchor the squad, but the key again for the Bobcats will be the performance of the pitching staff. After last season’s late slide, the Bobcats realize that strength and mental training will play a vital role in their success in 2002.

Third-year head coach Chris McKnight is confident that this year’s pitching staff is prepared to lift FSU to the next level.

The young Bobcat hurlers gained invaluable experience last season against one of the toughest schedules in school history. FSU upset No. 4 Allegheny, battled World Series participant Salisbury in a close loss, advanced to the AMCC championship game for the fifth straight year and capped its season with an invitation to the ECAC Championships. McKnight expects last year’s success to give his squad the boost to win the big games and propel FSU to another AMCC crown.

Below is a position-by-position look at the 2002 Bobcats.

INFIELD

The Bobcats return three starters in the infield for 2002. Sophomore second baseman Sean Davis (.310, 24 RBI, 30 R), who was named one of Division III’s "Players to Watch" by Collegiate Baseball, will start at second base after seeing action at both second and third last season. Davis, who has quick hands and a strong ability to read the ball, started 38 games last season and looks to continue an impressive start to his collegiate career.

Junior David Sanchez (.295, 4 2B, 16 RBI, 24 R) returns at shortstop to give the Bobcats one of the strongest middle tandems in the AMCC. A first-team All-AMCC selection last season, Sanchez started 36 games a year ago and will provide leadership both on and off the field.

Senior Steve Simpson (.333, 12 2B, 5 HR, 32 RBI) returns as the starter at first base after enjoying an excellent offensive performance last year. The lefty slugger led the Bobcats with a .500 on-base percentage, 42 runs and a school-record 38 walks, and he tied for second on the team in both doubles and home runs.

Simpson, who also posted a 1-0 record with a 4.82 earned run average in four appearances, may see some time as a relief pitcher as well this year.

The new face in the infield is junior Pat Fortunato, who transferred from Monroe Community College. Fortunato will make the transition from first to third and is a strong-armed and aggressive player at the corner.

OUTFIELD

With the return of starters Mark Teson and Tim Wilkins and the addition of transfer Bobby Farmer, the Bobcats feel they have arguably the best outfield in the AMCC and potentially one of the top units in Division III.

Teson, one of the league’s top defensive centerfielders, enjoyed a strong first half last year before being hampered by a leg injury. The speedster hit .296 with six doubles, two triples and two home runs, and he added 40 runs, 29 walks and team-high 12 steals. He will once again provide a spark to the Bobcat offense at the top of the lineup.

Wilkins gets the nod in left field after enjoying a monster performance at the plate in 2001. A mid-season addition from the junior varsity squad, Wilkins made the most of his 56 at bats, posting a .444 batting average with a team-high seven home runs and a whopping .944 slugging percentage. A first-team all-conference wide receiver this past fall, Wilkins is ready to display his baseball talents over a full season.

Farmer, who helped lead Montgomery-Germantown to a fourth-place finish at the Division III Junior College World Series last season, will move into right field. The smooth-hitting lefty adds his strong and accurate throwing arm to the Bobcats speedy outfield.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Sophomore Ryan Hamerski and junior Jason Bramble, a transfer from Chesapeake Community College, will share the designated hitter role and may also see time as pinch hitters. Both have the ability to provide the long ball as well as hit for average. Hamerski hit .312 with a double and three RBI in 16 at bats, while Bramble has shown solid power in the fall.

CATCHER

Junior Jake Mannon (.346, 7 2B, 5 HR, 33 RBI) returns as the likely starter behind the plate after a strong 2001 season. The second Bobcat to be listed among the "Players to Watch" this season by Collegiate Baseball, Mannon has a strong arm and quick release. He has emerged as one of the top offensive players in the AMCC as well, as the tied for the team lead in RBIs last season.

Sophomore Eric Edelman (.362, 3 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI), who earned first-team All-AMCC and ECAC All-Star honorable mention honors at designated hitter last season, will battle junior transfer Shawn Cudzilo and freshman Chris Baugher for the back-up catcher duties.

PITCHERS

Once again the key to FSU’s success will be its pitching. McKnight and his staff return several youngsters who gained valuable experience last season, and the Bobcats have also added several junior college transfers to bolster the staff.

Sophomores Rob DeSanto (3-1, 2.98, 53 K), Mike Thomas (5-1, 6.86) and Dan Sidorowicz (1-4, 5.79, 3 SV) combined to appear in 30 games in their rookie seasons, and the trio will be among the candidates for the starting roles this year.

DeSanto began his collegiate career in fine fashion, allowing just one earned run in his first 12 1/3 innings before a mid-season injury limited his innings down the stretch. He is once again healthy and should be one of the top pitchers in the AMCC this year.

Thomas looks to battle again for a starting role after finishing second on the team in wins as a freshman. The hard-throwing righty enjoyed a solid fall season, and his calm composure should equal more wins.

Sidorowicz, who entered the program last season as an outfielder before switching to the mound, was 1-0 with two saves and a 0.00 ERA in his first four appearances before struggling down the stretch. He has added five miles an hour to his fastball, developed a third pitch in the off-season and will contend for a starting role.

Senior Chris Hammond, another transfer from Montgomery-Germantown, leads a talented group of newcomers. Hammond will be a key with his above average fastball, the ability to hit his spots and a great attitude.

Juniors Dave Huber (Montgomery-Germantown) and Juan Aznar (Frederick CC) will log many innings as starters and middle relievers this season with their big-game experience at the junoir college level.

Sophomore Chris McGarvey and freshman Billye Hollister will share the relief duties. McGarvey, a hard throwing right-hander who saw action as an outfielder for the Bobcats last season, will be counted on to close the door this year, while Hollister, a crafty lefty, should see quality innings.

SCHEDULE/ANALYSIS

For the second straight season, the Bobcats will tackle an ambitious schedule that features several of the nation’s best programs. FSU will face 2001 World Series participant and preseason No. 5 Salisbury, preseason No. 13 Allegheny (Pa.) and preseason No. 27 Maryville.

In addition to these nationally ranked teams, the Bobcats will also take on NCAA regional participant Christopher Newport, Presidents Athletic Conference champion Grove City, Great South champion LaGrange and 1999 Division III national champion North Carolina Wesleyan.

"We have another challenging schedule that should place us in the upper echelon of Division III baseball," said McKnight. "It should also help us in our quest for the AMCC crown and a national championship."

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-4371
Fax: 301-687-4780
E-mail: sportsinfo@frostburg.edu