The York College baseball squad begins 2010
like it does most seasons: high expectations and a great enthusiasm
for the upcoming campaign. York head coach Paul
Saikia enters his 23rd campaign at the helm of the
Spartans coming off a 28-win season and an NCAA Tournament
Saikia welcomes back seven everyday starters and a majority of his pitching staff as the Spartans are geared up to compete for the Capital Athletic Conference championship. That championship carries a new benefit this year as the conference now owns an NCAA Tournament automatic bid for the first time in conference history.
The Spartans have a number of versatile players that provide Saikia with the ability to mix and match lineups. It also gives the Spartan mentor exceptional depth for 2010.
The Spartans have experience all over the infield as all four starters return. Shortstop Rob Klinck begins his third year as a starter while Kyle Cook settles in at third base. Dustin Worthman will hold down second base while CT Stanley begins his second season as the Spartans’ starting first sacker. Senior Rick Shumway will also play a big role in the infield as he can fill in at second, third and short depending on the Spartans’ needs.
Klinck hit .312 with 38 runs scored, 19 RBI, 10 doubles, four triples and a pair of home runs last season. He is a steady shortstop with a good arm and range. Klinck is one of the most experienced Spartans with over 300 at-bats in his career. He will likely hit in the lower third of the lineup and gives that part of the order some run production potential.
Cook blossomed as a sophomore, hitting .376 with 37 runs scored, 17 RBI, and seven doubles before having his season end early with a wrist injury in the NC Wesleyan game. He will hit in the heart of the lineup as he provides York with the ability to be a key run producer. Cook will also hold down a spot in the Spartan pitching rotation.
Worthman played in 34 games as a freshman with time split between the designated hitter role and second base. He will take over full time at second in 2010 and hit at the top of the lineup. He hit a blistering .448 in 96 at-bats with 25 runs scored, three doubles, a triple, and 14 RBI. He had a .500 on-base percentage while he also stole nine bases. Worthman has improved defensively and is a hard-nosed player who brings toughness to the Spartan squad.
Stanley had a very productive sophomore year as he hit .291 with a team-high nine home runs. He drove in 38 with 29 runs scored and 14 doubles. He has refined his approach at the plate that should provide him the ability to hit for a higher average without losing his power. Stanley started 43 games and owned a .394 on-base percentage. He is slated to hit in the four hole and will have a chance to be a big run producer for the Green and White. Stanley has also become a very reliable first baseman, giving his fellow infielders a big, athletic target at first base.
Shumway comes to York from Division II Shippensburg where he was a dynamic offensive player for the Red Raiders. In 2008, Shumway hit .380 with 52 runs scored, 10 doubles, five triples, and a home run. He drove in 39 runs in addition to stealing 21 bases. He is a very versatile infielder that will get playing time at various positions in addition to getting at-bats as the designated hitter.
“I like our infield a lot,” says Saikia. “We have experience at every position, both in starting roles and in depth. I would not expect us to be flashy, but I do feel we are solid and steady. I think some of our infielders have grown a lot as leaders on our team as well. That brings stability to a team that I think is very valuable.”
Junior Sean McCann provides depth at both corner positions while Adam Hegedus is a back up at second for the Green and White. Steve Bonitatibus also provides depth for the Green and White at first base.
The Spartan outfield brings a good mix of players, as York must replace their lone lost starter in graduated centerfielder Ryan Poff. Senior Matt Monti moves from third base to centerfield where he made a smooth adjustment during the fall season. Monti is a great athlete with exceptional speed that can cover ground in center. He hit .341 with 27 runs scored, 38 RBI, 11 doubles, two triples, and a pair of home runs in 2009. He stole a team-high 13 bases and will likely hit in the two spot for the Green and White.
Monti will be flanked in leftfield by senior Mike Connolly and in right by Joe Doyle. Connolly begins his final year in the Green and White as a four-year starter. He hit .320 with 35 runs scored, 31 RBI, 12 doubles, and three home runs. He drew 20 walks in 2009 as he had a .400 on-base percentage. Connolly is in tremendous shape and will have the opportunity to finish among the all-time Spartan offensive leaders with a good season. Connolly has made strides as a defensive player as he boasts an accurate arm in left field. The left-handed hitting Connolly will hit in either the third or fifth hole depending on match ups.
Doyle played in 39 games last year and responded by hitting .319 with 15 runs scored, 15 RBI, 10 doubles and a home run. He should flourish with extended at-bats, as he is an outstanding athlete. Doyle is a tough, competitive player who will likely see most of his plate appearances come from the lower half of the Spartan order.
Sophomore Steve Tretter provides Saikia with a great option at any of the three outfield slots. He is a gifted athlete that can really run and throw. He is an aggressive hitter who also could see time out of the bullpen. Junior Devin Harbold provides depth in right and left field while junior Shaun Rutherford also plays in left for York.
“Like the infield we have veteran depth at every spot. Monti is new to his position, but I feel he is adjusting well,” states Saikia. “All in all I think we have a good talent and experience in the outfield – physical players with some versatility.
The York pitching staff is headlined by senior ace Jason Christenberry. The right-hander is coming off an 8-3 year as he owned a 3.75 ERA in a team-high 84 innings. Christenberry struck out 60 as opponents hit .260 against him. He made 14 starts while he also earned one save out of the pen for York. Christenberry is an aggressive pitcher that works quickly and challenges hitters. He has worked on improving his change up, giving him another weapon to attack his opponents.
Junior Andy Rosenzweig returns as York’s number two starter after posting six wins as a sophomore. Rosenzweig made 13 starts and threw 66.2 innings. He has four quality pitches which he can throw consistently for strikes. Rosenzweig is a battler that gives York experience near the top of the rotation.
Cook is slated to hold down a spot in the rotation while senior Chris Frankenfield moves to the rotation after spending most of last year throwing out of the pen. Cook earned three wins and five saves last year. Cook spent most of last year doing his pitching as the closer but this year he slides into the rotation. There is a possibility of him moving back into the closer role if needed by Saikia.
Frankenfield has a great junior year as he went 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 46.2 innings. He is a competitive and intelligent pitcher who battles and doesn’t beat himself with walks. Frankenfield made 18 appearances with five starts late in the year as he provides York with another experienced arm in the rotation.
Saikia has a group of four right-handers who provide him spot starters or long bullpen relievers. Sophomores K.C. Beshore and Tom Moran join freshmen Brian Lusby and Joey Couch as candidates for joining the rotation. Beshore went 4-1 in 16 appearances and six starts last year while Moran made six appearances last year. Lusby is a promising first-year Spartan that could make an impact as a freshman. Couch is a hard thrower that also has the ability to impact the York fortunes.
The Spartans have a core of six pitchers that will likely pitch exclusively out of the bullpen. Senior Jeff Benchich and sophomore Brandon Ullom will be joined by the freshmen foursome of Tretter, Courtland Sullivan, Brian Workman, and Josh Kohn in the pen. Benchich tossed 16.1 innings last year and will be counted on to provide leadership at the back end of the pen. Ullom threw limited innings as a freshman but has worked hard to make himself into a factor for York. Tretter, Sullivan, and Workman are three right-handers that will get chances to contribute from the pen. Kohn is the lone lefty on the Spartan staff in 2010.
“As the team is in most aspects, we have a tested core on the mound,” comments Saikia. “We should be able to start every game with a pitcher we feel can provide the team a good chance to win. We have some gifted young pitchers as well—getting a little bit out of each of them will be the difference in whether we have legitimate depth or not. I view them as our wild card. No pun intended.”
The Spartans are in good hands behind the dish. Senior Jim Meehan comes back as the starter for the Green and White. Meehan is an outstanding defensive catcher who blossomed as the starter last year. Meehan hit .268 with 13 RBI and 10 runs scored but the coaching staff expects him to improve after a good fall campaign that saw him hit the ball with authority all over the field. Four freshmen provide Meehan with capable back up. Justin Cohen is on track to be Meehan’s main understudy. Cohen is a vocal, aggressive player who could also get some designated hitter at-bats throughout the season. Nicholas Long, Jimmy King, and Michael Doran give the coaching staff an outstanding core of young and talented catchers that provide York with a bright future behind the plate.
“We have an unusual assembly of catchers this year—a senior with a ton of experience and group of freshmen who are talented but certainly still in the development stage. My goal this year is to get as much as we can from Jimmy and then look for every opportunity we can to get the freshmen some experience,” states the Spartan mentor.
Saikia is excited to get out on the field
with his team.
“I think we have a chance to be a serious contender in the CAC and the South Region. We scratched and clawed our way through last season. Hopefully our returners can feed on that experience and play a year more matured. I’m curious to see what we can get from some of our younger guys. If our veterans play like veterans and we get a reasonable contribution from our bench, we could be pretty good,” remarks Saikia.
Much like all Spartan baseball seasons, the Green and White face a tough regular season slate in preparation for the CAC Tournament and NCAA Tournament play.
“The CAC gaining an AQ will definitely raise the intensity level of our conference season and tournament. Not to say that it was ever lacking, but it’s going to be an all-out war now. Every game we play this year will be counted by the NCAA as a regional game, so there really is no let up. It’s going to be a long, hard battle,” says Saikia.
The Spartans open their 2010 schedule on February 26 when they travel to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the Emory University Rawlings Southern Classic. York plays four games in the tournament before playing at Randolph-Macon on March 2 on the way home from Atlanta. The Spartans are scheduled to open their home season on March 5 against Mary Washington.