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New Faces, Same Winning Attitude for Baseball in 2004
02/16/2004

FROSTBURG, MD - While the Frostburg State University baseball program enters its 40th season with a few new faces, the same winning attitude that it has shown throughout its history remains. Since 1990, the Bobcats are 311-167-2, and their .650 winning percentage over that span ranks them 31st in the nation.

The Bobcats are coming off one of their most successful seasons in school history, posting a 31-12-1 record, sharing the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference regular-season title and finishing as the runner-up in the AMCC Tournament. FSU ran up 13 straight wins and was ranked as high as No. 29 in the nation late in the season.

FSU’s 31 victories tied for the third-highest single-season total in program history, and it marked just the sixth time that the Bobcats hit the 30-win plateau. Fifth-year head coach Chris McKnight looks to repeat the success his squad enjoyed in 2003.

“We had a great season last year,” said McKnight, who is 94-58-1 at FSU. “A lot of our players stepped up and had break-out years. We had one of the best seasons in the program’s history but fell just short of earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament.”

The Bobcats enter the 2004 season with the same lofty goals as they had a year ago. They would like to defend their Chowan Invitational championship and perform well on their spring break trip to Florida, where they will face national powerhouses Allegheny (Pa.) and Southern Maine. Ultimately, FSU wants to host and win the AMCC Tournament and earn a berth to the NCAA playoffs.

FSU returns several weapons from one of the nation’s most explosive offenses in 2003. The Bobcats ranked 25th in the nation with a .343 team batting average and were also 43rd in the country in scoring at 8.0 runs per game.

Senior second baseman Sean Davis (Sherwood/Olney, Md.) will once again anchor the infield. Davis posted one of the most impressive all-around seasons in FSU history in 2003, pacing the team with a .433 batting average, a school-record 65 hits, five triples, 44 RBIs, 99 total bases, five sacrifice flies and 23 stolen bases.

One of just three players to appear in a school-record 44 games last year, Davis also ranked second on the team in doubles (15), extra-base hits (23), slugging percentage (.660) and on-base percentage (.489), and he placed third in runs scored (39).

Davis earned first-team All-AMCC and All-ECAC honors and was named to the ABCA Mid-Atlantic Regional All-America third team.

Senior Ryan Hamerski (Sherwood/Olney, Md.) and Chris Baugher (Brunswick/Frederick, Md.) join Davis as returning starters in the infield.

Hamerski, who will get a majority of the starts at first base, hit .322 with nine doubles, three home runs and 21 RBIs.

Baugher, who split time behind the plate with AMCC Pre-Season Player of the Year Jake Mannon last year, hit .238 with two doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs. His production should increase with more action this season.

Senior Kevin Romanik (Millville/Millville, N.J.) and freshman Mike Gitzen (Potomac Falls/Arlington, Va.) are expected to battle at shortstop, while freshman Todd Holmes (West Perry/New Bloomfield, Pa.) is the likely starter at third.

The Bobcats took a major hit in the outfield, where they lost all three starters to completed eligibility. Sophomore Kyle Mahan (Potomac/Woodbridge, Va.), who hit .250 in limited action a year ago as the team’s fourth outfielder, moves into the starting role in centerfield.

Roaming the outfield with Mahan will be juniors Justin Wilt (Brunswick/Knoxville, Md.) in left and Lance Williams (Woodson/Fairfax, Va.) in right. Wilt saw time in rightfield last season, hitting .300 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs and eight RBIs in 15 games. Williams, who transferred from Shepherd (W.Va.) College, is among the strongest power hitters on the team and is also very disciplined at the plate.

Other players who will contribute to the Bobcat offensive attack will be seniors Scott Feller (American Heritage/Boca Raton, Fla.), David Lydon (McDonough/Clinton, Md.) and Eric Edelman (Sherwood/Silver Spring, Md.), sophomore Eric Fitzgerald (Williamsport/Williamsport, Md.) and freshman Chris Jones (Towson/Baltimore, Md.).

Feller, who is expected to be the team’s top designated hitter, will again look to lead FSU in most of the power categories. Feller earned first-team All-AMCC and honorable mention All-ECAC honors after batting .403 with 48 hits, and he paced the Bobcats with 16 doubles, seven home runs and a .731 slugging percentage. He also ranked second on the squad with 41 RBIs.

Edelman and Fitzgerald will see some time in the field but will mainly be called upon to DH and also pinch hit. Jones, who will see time as the team’s fourth outfielder, and Lydon, who can play almost any position in the infield or outfield, both have good speed and will be used as the team’s top pinch runners.

“Even though we lost a few key starters, I do not think we will lack any production from those entering the starting lineup,” said McKnight. “In fact, I think we have better depth this season and if someone hits a slump we can look to one of our guys on the bench to step up.”

The Bobcats return a host of players from a strong pitching staff that posted a 4.01 ERA, the team’s best mark since 1999.

Seniors Dan Sidorowicz (St. Mary's Ryken/Leonardtown, Md.) and Brent Lutz (Central/Toms Brook, Va.), junior Daryl Keys (Salem Central/Salem, N.Y.) and sophomore Mike Tiller (Potomac/Dumfries, Va.) give FSU plenty of weapons.

Sidorowicz began the 2003 season in the bullpen but ended the year as the team’s top pitcher with a 6-2 record and a 3.28 ERA. He tied for the team lead with three complete games and tossed a five-hit shutout against SUNY-Farmingdale. The 6-2, 230-pound right-hander has improved his breaking pitches to go along with a strong fastball and will be a key to FSU’s success this year.

Lutz will look to build upon a solid 2003 campaign in which he went 5-3 with a 5.91 ERA. He began the year by earning MVP honors at the Chowan Invitational, winning a pair of games in three days, and held St. Joseph’s to just two hits in a complete-game 2-0 shutout in his next start.

Keys made 10 appearances last season, including three starts, and went 4-1 with a 4.78 ERA.

Tiller rebounded from an 0-3 start to finish 3-3 with a solid 3.24 ERA. He was plagued by poor run support at times, dropping 2-0 and 1-0 decisions and allowing just one earned run over 4.1 innings of a 2-2 tie at Eastern Mennonite (the game was called early due to darkness).

Senior Rob DeSanto (Wheaton/Rockville, Md.), who missed last season with an injury, and junior Brad Cannon (Colonel Richardson/Federalsburg, Md.), a transfer from Chesapeake College, will also battle for a spot in the rotation.

In relief, the Bobcats will turn to a number of players to shut down opponents in the late innings.

Senior Chris McGarvey (Glendale/Fallentimber, Pa.), juniors Andrew Byer (Osbourn Park/Manassas, Va.) and Kevin Franc (Leonardtown/Mechanicsville, Md.) and sophomores Matt Sillers (Pallotti/Columbia, Md.) and Jimmy Hardy (Middletown/Myersville, Md.) will all be looked upon to protect leads.

McGarvey was 1-1 with two saves, Byer went 1-0 with one save while Franc missed the year with an injury after going 1-0 in four starts as a freshman. Sillers was 3-0 with a team-best 2.53 ERA last year, while Hardy was 1-0 in three relief appearances.

Sophomore Collin Bednar (Glen Burnie/Millersville, Md.), who missed the 2003 season due to injury after transferring from Alvernia College for the spring semester, and sophomore Jon Philipp (Chesapeake/Pasadena, Md.), who transferred from Anne Arundel Community College, will also battle for time on the hill.

“I feel this year’s staff is much more complete than last season’s,” said pitching and catching coach Eric Hallenbeck, now in his eighth season as a Bobcat assistant. “We have six guys who could easily be among the first three starting spots, and we have a bullpen that has pitchers with every style possible.”

The new faces do not stop with the athletes on the field. Assistant coach Jimmy Smith, a former standout shortstop at King (Tenn.) College, brings excellent defensive knowledge and will serve as the team’s third-base coach and conditioning coordinator.

With all the returning talent and the addition of young but experienced transfers, the Bobcats should have enough depth to stay well rested throughout the season and be a strong contender for the AMCC title and a NCAA Tournament berth.

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