March 4 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bison Baseball program will look to use a good mix of veteran leadership and a host of young talent to get back on track in the upcoming 2014 season.
“Playing with passion and fight is our main goal aside from making the Presidents’ Athletic Tournament”, remarked head coach Rick Carver on his expectations for the Bison. “We weren’t able to finish some close games last year (8-10 in contests decided by two runs or less) and this year we look to do just that.”
Senior Zak Kozlowski (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) and junior Ryan Meier (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward), who both were named to the “Players to Watch” list by the conference, will be counted on to carry the starting rotation. Kozlowski finished last season with 11 starts, where he recorded 42 strikeouts and walked only 19 batters. Meier notched 41 innings of work, in which he struck out 24 batters.
“Kozlowski and Meier are two guys that we will lean on all season, “commented Carver on his 1-2 pitching duo. “Every time they step on the mound, we feel like we have a good chance to go out and get the win.”
Sophomore Ryan Bisi (Latrobe, Pa./Greater Latrobe) will also factor into the starting rotation, receiving early praise from Coach Carver. “Ryan is a guy that we needed to step up and he has done just that, getting himself ready to contribute for us this year.” In limited action last season, Bisi recorded seven strikeouts in 26 innings of work.
The bullpen will consist of relievers junior Zac Edmiston (California, Pa./California) , sophomore Joe Hoffman (Allison Park, Pa./Deer Lakes) and freshman Cody Gross (West Mifflin, Pa./West Mifflin ). Edmiston made six appearances last season, striking out six batters, while Hoffman registered a 2.62 ERA in 24 innings of work.
Dan Petrella (Coraopolis, Pa./Montour) is expected to be the closer, replacing the all-time saves leader in Bison history in Brad Kubis. Coach Carver commented on his new closer saying, “Dan is a kid that has some big shoes to fill, but he has embraced the role and were looking forward to seeing him pitch.”
The backstop position poses some fierce competition between senior Jordan Ault (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette), junior Luke Flaus (Pittsburgh, Pa./Montour) and freshman Tyler Stephenson (Elyria, Ohio/Midview). Last season, Ault started 10 games and notched five hits.
The outfield will be highlighted by right fielder Edmiston, who led the Bison last year in hits (37), batting average (.316) and on-base percentage (.379) and ranked second in walks (11) and runs scored (16). Listed as a “Player to Watch” by the PAC, Edmiston will bat leadoff and set the tone for Bethany offensively. “He is an extremely tough out and is the catalyst for us offensively,” remarked Carver. “Zac plays the game with enthusiasm and is one of the leaders on this squad.”
Joining Edmiston in the outfield will be junior center fielder Derek Miller (Rayland, Ohio/Linsly) and senior right fielder Dylan Wassel (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward). Miller hit .278 last year with 35 hits, while Wassel notched 28 hits in just 99 total at bats.
Jay Delgado (Bel Air, MD./Bel Air) and Ethan Tobin (Bethesda, Ohio/Union Local) are among two other players that will be vying for playing time in the competitive Bison outfield.
The infield will be led by senior shortstop Juls Leto (McKees Rocks, Pa./OLSH), who was also listed as a “Player to Watch” by the conference. Last season, Leto started 30 games, where he knocked in 12 RBI’s and collected 22 hits.
“Juls is an outstanding defensive shortstop and really plays the game with passion,” said Carver of his senior shortstop. “He is one of the leaders of the team and we look for him to have a big senior season.”
The first base position will have freshman Chris Koegel (Moon Township, Pa./Moon Area), senior Tanner Werkmann (Germantown, Md./Poolesville) and Bisi all competing for time. At second base, Dominic Controguerra (Richmond, Ohio/Edison) gets the nod to begin the year. Last season, he tallied 15 hits and notched five RBI’s. Freshman Adam Becker (McMurray, Pa./Peters Township) is also expected to see some time at second base.
At the third base, freshman Zack Miller (West Mifflin, Pa./West Mifflin) will get the first shot, with both junior Josh Dow (Groton, Conn./Griswold Senior) and sophomore Casey Jones (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) expected to receive playing at the hot corner as well.
The Bison plan to use a healthy rotation at the designated hitter position this season. Werkmann, Petrella, Delgado and freshman Zach Schlotter (Twinsburg, Ohio/Gilmour Academy) are all in the mix to get at bats.
Fielding the largest roster in school history (42 players), the Bison will once again play an extremely tough schedule, facing five teams that made postseason play a year ago. The Bison will open the 2014 campaign on Saturday March 8, as the team will travel to Washington, Pa. for their conference opener against Washington & Jefferson.