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2014 TCC Baseball Season Preview

2014 TCC Baseball Season Preview imagePosted: 2/26/2014 10:44:00 AM

Titan's 4th-year coach Ryan Mummert has to replace 9 Division 1 players from last year's team that set a school record for wins. But Mummert likes the make-up of his 2014 TCC baseball club and believes this group could pick up where last year's team left off.

"I'm excited to get this season started. Last season we accomplished a lot that hadn't been done here at TCC before, but fell short of our goal at the end," Mummert said. "Anytime you have to replace 9 Division 1 guys it's never easy, but we have a great group of Sophomore's this year to go with a solid Freshman class and I know they can't wait to get started as well."

2014 TEAM BREAKDOWN
Players Returning: 9
Pos. Players w/Starting Experience Returning: 5
Pitchers w/Significant Innings Returning: 4
Newcomers: 18 (12 high school players; 6 transfers)

Outfield

The Titans lost 2 key outfielder in last year's NWAACC Hitting Champion Jordan Woodring and Garrett DeGallier (University of South Alabama), but return a pair of All-Region outfielders for 2014 in Sophomores JJ Pino (Mt Vernon, WA / Mt Vernon HS) and Connor Cloyd (Maple Valley, WA / Tahoma HS).

Pino, a 2nd Team selection and Gold Glove award winner last year, batted .330 and is one of the top defenders in the NWAACC. A 6.8 runner with good arm strength, Pino has the ability to play all 3 OF positions guys feed off his energy. Also a 2nd Team selection and a University of Oregon transfer last year, Cloyd leads all returners in runs, hits, runs batted in, walks and stolen bases. Possibly the fastest Titan, Cloyd looks to have the same role as last year stabilizing CF and the lead-off position. Both bring valuable experience to the Titan's outfield.

Joining the 2 returners in the Outfield are a host of Freshman and a transfer. Jeremy Spring (Mill Creek, WA / Jackson HS) brings tremendous speed and a high motor to the Titans lineup. He had a great Fall and looks to have an impact. Derik Bontempo (Federal Way, WA / Decatur HS) will be right in the mix in the outfield as well giving the Titans a power presence from the right side of the plate. Devin Riley (Renton, WA / Kentridge HS) had a good fall and his left-handed bat gives the offense many options. Other newcomers that will contribute in the outfield include Freshmen Tom Simpson (Port Orchard, WA / South Kitsap HS) and a transfer from the University of Washington, Will Shanahan.

"We have a wide variety of different types of outfielders and great options from both sides of the plate this year," stated Coach Mummert. "Some guys run, some hit for power, some are plus defenders. Overall we have great depth in the outfield."

Infield

Gone is all everything Seth Heck, now at Mississippi St University, and All-West Region INF Ben Circeo (Northwest Nazarene). But the cupboard is not bare as two players with starting experience return in the infield for the Titans in Sophomores CJ Hicks (Seattle, WA / Chief Sealth HS) and Joe Greaney (Kent, WA / Kennedy Catholic HS).

Hicks started the 2nd half of the year at 2nd Base and had a solid Freshman campaign. He hit .274 and showed a solid glove committing only 2 errors last year. Hicks has made jump in his second year and will start out at 2nd Base but has the ability to play Shortstop or 3rd Base as well. Greaney, a part-time starter last year, will battle for the starting spot at 3rd Base. Hitting .243 as a FR, Greaney has great hands defensively giving him a shot with the 3rd Base job.

Joining Hicks in the middle are a pair of newcomers. Matt Hirsch (Edmonds, WA / Meadowdale HS) is a Sophomore that transferred in from Division III Willamette University. Hirsch brings tremendous defensive skills and is the front runner to win the Shortstop position after a solid Fall. Also challenging for playing time is Freshman Reed Johnson (Maple Valley, WA / Tahoma HS). Johnson gives the Titans a left-handed bat option with the ability to play 2B or 3B. Freshman Joel Moore (Orting, WA Orting HS) also adds great depth with the ability to play all 3 infield positions. Shanahan and Simpson also could play the infield at times.

At 1st Base, Freshman left-handers Brett Nielsen (Eugene, OR / Sheldon HS) and Charlie Hinson (Lacey, WA / Timberline HS) both bring tall targets with some pop in their bat and will look to make a significant impact for the Titans.

"We have a chance to start 3 Sophomores in our infield giving us some experience," says Mummert. "I feel we are pretty talented, but having a couple newcomers live up to the expectations would really give us a boost going into the season."

Catchers

The Titans lost 2 catchers from last year's team to Division 1 schools in Chad Michaud (Utah Valley University) and Jake Ross (Youngstown St University), but return 1 catcher with experience.

Jon Reece (Oregon City, OR / Oregon City HS) batted .269 as a FR, primarily in a DH role, where he earned 2nd Team All-West Region honors. Reece, who batted in the #2 hole last year, will see time behind the dish and will be a key component to the Titan offense.

A transfer from the University of Washington, Josh Latta (Lake Tapps, WA / Auburn-Riverside HS), is also expected to see significant action. Latta shows some pop with the bat and solid receiving skills giving the Titans another quality catcher. Also providing depth at the catcher position is Freshman Keylen Steen (Chehalis, WA / WF West HS). Steen, a tremendous worker, shows a solid bat, with good arm strength and should challenge for innings this Spring.

"When you lose 2 catchers to Division 1 schools it's difficult to replace that. But Jon has improved as a catcher since last year and part of it was because last year's guys challenged him every day," explains Mummert. "Josh gives us a physical, mature presence and Keylen could surprise some people. This is a very solid group for us this year."

PRIMARY RETURNING-POSITION STARTERS
Player Pos. Cl.-Exp. B/T Avg. Notable
JJ Pino OF SO R/R .330 2nd Team All-West Region, Gold Glove Award
Jon Reece C/UTL SO L/R .269 2nd Team All-West Region DH
Connor Cloyd OF FR L/R .260 2nd Team All-West Region

TOP NEWCOMERS-POSITION PLAYERS
Player Pos. Cl. B/T Hometown (2013 School)
Josh Latta C RS-FR R/R Milton, WA (University of Washington)
Matt Hirsch INF SO R/R Edmonds, WA (Willamette University)
Jeremy Spring OF FR L/L Mill Creek, WA (Jackson HS)

Pitchers

The Titans lost 5 pitchers from last year's staff that have gone on to pitch at the Division 1 level, but there is defiantly not a shortage of quality returners.

Leading the returners is LHP Joey Gamache (Bonney Lake, WA / Bonney Lake HS), one of three pitchers returning with starting experience from last year's rotation. Gamache, a 1st Team All-West Region winner in 2013, posted an 8-1 record, with a 2.53 ERA, with 23 BB, 54 K in 74 Innings. Gamache will lead the rotation again in 2014. Two other returners with starting experience include RHP Patrick Bernard (Edmonds, WA / Edmonds-Woodway HS) and RHP Quinn Eldridge (Chimicum, WA / Chimicum HS). Bernard tallied 7 starts last year and posted a 4.36 ERA with 28 K and 17 BB in 45 INN. He was 2nd on the team with 6 wins. Eldridge earned 6 starts last year and posted a 4-3 record with 31 K in 47 INN. Both had quality starts in the playoffs last year and will compete for time in the rotation again this year. The lone returner out of the bullpen is submarine righty Ryota Koiwai (Japan). Used mainly in the set up role last year, Koiwai post the lowest ERA of all returners at 1.92. He was 3-1 with 13 K and only 3 BB in 23 INN. Koiwai will now take over the closer role for the departed Brandon Choate, who is now at the University of Washington.

Many Freshman and a transfer will be expected to contribute significantly on the hill starting with Arkansas St transfer RS-SO Chris Kerwood (Maple Valley, WA / Tahoma HS). Kerwood had a solid fall camp and will definitely challenge for a spot in the rotation this Spring. Of the freshman RHP's Stephen White(Woodinville, WA / Woodinville HS) and Justin Vernia (Issaquah, WA / Issaquah HS) are also expected to have an impact and compete for spots in the rotation. Both have been very consistent and have showed the ability to pound the strike zone. Other Freshman that will push for innings include RHP's Cory Main (Port Orchard, WA / Olympic College) and Jake Brewer (Samammish, WA / Eastlake HS). LHP Bret Hartnett (Covington, WA / Kentwood HS), a transfer from Seattle University, gives the Titans a quality lefty out of the bullpen. Other position players expected to see time on the mound as well include LHP Brett Nielsen and righty's Joel Moore, Tom Simpson and Will Shanahan.

"This is the most unknown on our pitching staff we have been in a few years leading into the Spring," says Mummert. "It's not necessarily a bad unknown as I think we have a quality combination of returners and newcomers. We just have to see who is going to be slated for what roles and how they perform in those roles. The preseason will allow us time to get all the pieces in place going into the conference season. I like the potential of this group though. "

PRIMARY PITCHERS RETURNING
Player R/L Cl.-Exp. W-L ERA IP BB SO Notable
Joey Gamache LHP SO 8-1 2.53 74.2 INN 23 BB 54 SO 1st Team All-West Region
Quinn Eldridge RHP SO 4-3 3.99 47.1 INN 14 BB 31 SO
Patrick Bernard RHP SO 6-3 4.36 45.1 INN 17 BB 28 SO
Ryota Koiwai RHP SO 3-1 1.92 23.1 INN 3 BB 13 SO

TOP NEWCOMERS-PITCHERS
Player R/L Cl. Hometown (2013 School)
Chris Kerwood RHP RS-SO Maple Valley, WA (Arkansas St University)
Stephen White RHP FR Woodinville, WA (Woodinville HS)
Justin Vernia RHP FR Issaquah, WA (Issaquah HS)

 

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