The main focus for Susquehanna’s baseball team leading
into the 2012 season was getting back to the basics.
“We needed to improve in all facets of the game, from pitching to defense and hitting,” seventh-year head coach Denny Bowers said.
The Crusaders will be relying on “small ball”—bunting, hit-and-run scenarios and stealing bases to produce a potent offense this season.
“I want the team to put the ball in play and cut down on strikeouts,” Bowers continued. “We need to make productive outs and moving runners into scoring position by putting pressure on opposing teams to make plays will be key.”
The Crusaders lost several players who contributed last year, including Second-Team All-Landmark player Geoff Hunter (.294 avg, 17 runs, 30 hits, 8 rbi), their most consistent hitter Justin Portzline (.314 avg, 19 runs, 32 hits, 3 hr, 14 rbi) and their number one pitcher, Keith Needham (5 cg, 62.2 ip, 4.02 era, 37k).
SU welcomes back four All-Conference players from a year ago. First-Team All-Conference senior outfielder Ethan Rieker (Lancaster, Pa. / Manheim Twp.) and Second-Team first baseman Nick Ferlise (Toms River, N.J. / Toms River North) will be middle of the order hitters this year.
Third baseman Dan Wing (West Chester, Pa. / Unionville / Catawba) is coming off a First-Team All-Conference season and is expected to contribute offensively while securing one of the corner infield spots defensively.
Sophomore centerfielder Ty Raubenstine (Elizabethville,
Pa. / Upper Dauphin Area) will be a top of the lineup
hitter with Ken Kayama [Koto-Ku, Japan / Solebury
(Pa.)] joining him in the outfield. Kayama, now in his
third season, will be called upon for his leadership in the
Pitcher Matt Smith (Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. / Wyoming Seminary) was named Second-Team All-Conference as a freshman last season as he only allowed three earned runs all year. He is expected to shut the door in the late innings this season.
Bowers sees young potential on his club, especially the fresh arms added to the pitching staff.
After being named an All-Centennial Conference kicker in his first football season at SU, rookie Spencer Hotaling (Selinsgrove, Pa. / Selinsgrove Area) gives the Crusaders a strong arm to rely upon.
Look for Luc Kocher (Middlebury Center, Pa. / Elkland) and Zach Place (Towanda, Pa. / Towanda) to push for starting nods during Landmark Conference action.
Middle infielders Nick Kennedy (Brookeville, Md. / Good Council) and Jared Musilli (Branchville, N.J. / High Point Regional) show signs of promise in the field and at the plate.
“This year the Landmark is wide open,” stated Bowers, “and is up for grabs for anyone.”
The Crusaders begin play on Feb. 18 against Richard Stockton in Myrtle Beach, S.C. for several games over the weekend. Their spring break trip to Fort Pierce, Fla. runs from March 3-10.
The home opener is slated for Friday, March 16 against Muhlenberg. The first home Landmark Conference series is the same weekend versus Merchant Marine, starting with a double-header on Saturday, March 17.