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2007 Baseball Season Preview

FROSTBURG, Md. - A veteran infield will be the highlight of the Frostburg State baseball team as it tries to match the success of last year’s team and get back to the postseason in 2007.

Head Coach Chris McKnight returns all five starters and a wealth of talent at the plate from his infielders and catchers, but he will have to answer questions about his young pitching staff and inexperienced outfield. McKnight has added talent with the group of newcomers and transfers and they should compete for time right away.

The Bobcats will also look to get back into the rankings after finishing the 2006 season ranked sixth in the American Baseball Coaches Association Mid-Atlantic Region poll.

Junior Allen Peake (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) will anchor the infield and provide stability from his first base position having started in 82 games in his first two seasons. Peake earned Second Team All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference honors last spring and was named to the Mid-Atlantic Regional All-Tournament Baseball Team. He finished the season with seven homeruns, good for second in the conference, and he led FSU with 319 putouts.

Freshman Dustin Douglas (Cockeysville, Md./Loyola) will be the backup at first base. He has a good glove and has one of the best bats on the team that will allow him to see time as a designated hitter.

At second base, junior Brett Mitchell (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) and sophomore Joe Clark (Crozet, Va./Western Albemarle) will battle for the starting spot. Mitchell had a great season in 2006 scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning in the AMCC Championship game and singling home the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth in FSU’s 3-2 win over Gwynedd-Mercy in the NCAA Tournament.

Mitchell also possesses one of the best gloves in the infield. Clark saw time as a backup and pinch runner last spring and will battle to see more action this season.

Sophomore Brian Short (Ashburn, Va./Paul VI) and senior Mike Gitzen (Sterling, Va./Potomac Falls) are the front-runners at shortstop. Short started 25 games a year ago and enters this season as a stronger and more dedicated player. He has proven to the coaching staff that he is willing to battle for the starting spot.

Gitzen started 24 games last spring at both shortstop and third base and is just one of four seniors on this year’s team.

Third base has the most depth of any position on the unit. Seniors Art Barone (Chestnut Ridge, N.Y./Spring Valley) and Todd Holmes (New Bloomfield, Pa./West Perry) along with Gitzen will all battle for time and the starting spot.

Barone, a captain for the 2007 season, was a Second Team All-AMCC selection last spring and he led the Bobcats with 15 doubles and a .548 slugging percentage.

Holmes looks to regain his form from two season’s ago where he earned second-team all-conference honors. Last spring he played in 26 games while making 18 starts. Gitzen started the final seven games of the season at third base including all four games of the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Andrew Lydon (Southampton, N.J./Southampton (Burlington) ) and sophomore Mike Jester (Preston, Md./Colonel Richardson) are utility players who will compete for time in the infield. Lydon is a transfer from Burlington Community College while Jester is a reliable and durable player who could possibly see time as a designated hitter.

The Frostburg State outfield squad will be led by the only returner from last season, junior Andrew Speights (Stafford, Va./Brooke Point). Speights started all 42 games in right field last season and he was named to the Mid-Atlantic Regional All-Tournament Baseball Team. He has the strongest left-handed bat on the team and has the ability to become one of the conference’s best hitters.

A pair of freshmen, Joe Garrity (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory) and Jeff Kroboth (Nazareth, Pa./Nazareth), will do battle for the starting gig in left field. Garrity has one of the best arms in the outfield while Kroboth possesses great speed and reaction time.

In center field, junior Bryan Burke (Lindenhurst, N.Y./Lindenhurst (LIU)) and freshman Andrew Derr (Brunswick, Md./Brunswick) will try for the starting role. Burke is a transfer from NCAA Division I Long Island University where he started 40 games and finished third on the team with 19 RBIs. Derr is a solid all-around player who might also see time at catcher.

Sophomore Pat Hendricks (New Milford, Conn./New Milford) and freshmen Cody Poffenberger (Sharpsburg, Md./Middletown) and Dustin Crigger (St. Leonard, Md./Calvert Hall) look battle for backup roles in the outfield. In his freshman season, Hendricks played in eight games, recorded four hits, and three RBIs.

One of the most experienced positions on the Bobcats this season will be the catcher. Senior Ryan Webb (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) and junior Joe Daddura (Fallston, Md./Calvert Hall) will split the duties behind the plate. Both have been the core of the position for the last few years.

Webb started 18 games last season and recorded 10 RBIs while Daddura started 27 contests and finished second on the team with 172 putouts. Daddura is also a captain for the 2007 season. Junior Andrew Sacks (Forest Hill, Md./John Carroll) will be the backup and will battle for time as the designated or a pinch hitter.

A young staff has presented a lot of questions and has been the main focus for the FSU coaching staff heading into the spring season. The Bobcats will also have to find a replacement for Second Team ABCA All-American Billye Hollister, who accounted for 10 wins last spring.

Junior John Micklus ( La Plata, Md./McDonough) will anchor the young staff after a great 2006 campaign. Micklus was an Honorable Mention All-AMCC performer last year after posting a 7-3 record with three saves. His seventh and final win of the season came in Frostburg State’s 3-2 win over Gwynedd-Mercy in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Freshman Aaron Main (Brunswick, Md./Brunswick) has been thrown into the fire as the team’s No. 2 starter. He has shown great improvement since the fall season, mainly on his velocity and off-speed pitches and he is one of the hardest working players on the team.

Freshman Bryan Burke (Lindenhurst, N.Y./Lindenhurst (LIU)) is a solid left-handed thrower that made three appearances for LIU on the mound last season. He has great potential and does a good job of keeping hitters off balance.

Sophomore Scott Eastment (Warrenton, Va./Paul VI (Georgetown)) is a smart pitcher who could possibly see time as the team’s No. 4 starter. He has good command and has one of the best breaking balls on the staff.

Freshman Rob Mathias (Eldersburg, Md./Liberty (Potomac State)) is a transfer from Potomac State and could be a spot starter or see time in middle relief. He is a good pitcher that can handle any role on the staff.

The coaches look for freshman Calvin Lewis (Sabillasville, Md./Catoctin) to have a strong season after coming off an injury in the fall season and classmate Spenser Barnard (Bloomington, Md./Bloomington) is a side armer that shows the potential to be a strter.

Junior Frank Sutton (Clarcksburg, W.Va./Robert Byrd), sophomore Kyle Timme (Pasadena, Md./Mt. St. Joseph's) and freshmen Dan Greer (Richfield Springs, N.Y./Richfield), Zach Braithwaite (LaVale, Md./Alleghany), Spenser Madsen (Bozman, Md./St. Michaels), Paul Sinclair (Midland Park, N.J./Midland) and Mike Johnis (Nesconset, N.Y./Nesconset) will all compete for time on the mound this season.

The 2007 schedule has the potential to be the toughest in school history including a rough trip to Port Charlotte, Fla. over spring break. While in Florida, the Bobcats will face No. 1 ranked Otterbein, No. 21 ranked Western New England and No. 27 ranked Rowan. FSU also opens the season on Feb. 10 with a double header against No. 7 ranked North Carolina Wesleyan.

The AMCC will also be tough, as Pitt-Bradford, Penn State Behrend and La Roche will all look for revenge since FSU has captured the league crown in two of the last three seasons.

The Bobcats will have their work cut out for them since a team hasn’t repeated as conference champions since Pitt-Bradford accomplished the task in 2000 and 2001 seasons.

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