2012 Baseball Preview
There is a lot of potential for the Mountaineer infield this season as the squad only returns one player from the 2011 season. Sophomore Ryan McBroom will start the season at first base, while junior college transfers Stuart Jeck, John Polonius and Nate Antone will round out the remainder of the infield.
McBroom started 35 games at first in 2011 with an average of .246, 13 runs, five doubles, three home runs and 24 RBIs. As a smooth fielder, McBroom made just three errors and recorded 314 putouts last season.
Jeck, who has the ability to play both second base and shortstop, will begin the season at second after ranking sixth in the nation with 47 stolen bases in 2011 at Fort Scott C.C. In 58 games, Jeck recorded a .369 batting average with 83 hits, 20 doubles, five triples, 66 runs and 50 RBIs.
One of the best fielders on the team, Polonius will serve as a shortstop after attending Genesee C.C. in 2011 and being drafted in the 30th round by the Cleveland Indians. Polonius led Genesee in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.370), RBIs (23), runs (21), triples (5), doubles (11) and hits (30, as well as stealing 21 of 23 bases.
Nate Antone will play the hot corner for WVU after batting .426 with 66 hits, 52 runs, 52 RBIs, 27 doubles, three triples and three home runs for Potomac State J.C. in 2011.
Freshman Justin Fox has the ability to play second base, as well as catcher, and will likely see time at both positions in 2012. Potomac State J.C. transfer Ryan Bennett can also play second base for WVU, while Billy Fleming was one of the top high school players in Pennsylvania in 2011 and can play shortstop and third base.
Making the transition to center field is junior Brady Wilson, who will anchor an experienced outfield for the Mountaineers this season. Wilson had a breakout season in right field and as the team’s leadoff hitter in 2011, finishing the year with a .330 average, 45 runs, eight doubles, two homers, 27 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Wilson recorded 199 putouts and made just one error.
Third-year sophomore Matt Frazer will play left field for WVU and will likely bat either third or fourth in the order. Frazer played eight games in 2011 before breaking his leg while rounding first at Elon to prematurely end his season. Prior to the injury, Frazer was batting .357 in eight starts with two runs, four doubles and three RBIs.
Opening the season in right field is fourth-year junior Chris Rasky. Rasky took over for Frazer in left field in 2011 and batted .286 in 36 starts with 19 runs, five doubles, one home run and 21 RBIs. Rasky was also hit by 14 pitches.
Other Mountaineers looking for time in the outfield will be freshmen Bobby Boyd and Jon Roszel. Boyd batted .404 from the leadoff spot, drove in 24 runs and stole 24 bases last season at St. John’s College High and will likely come in as a late-inning defensive replacement. Roszel batted .500 with 26 runs, six doubles, four triples, three home runs and 25 RBIs as a senior for Manchester Township High.
Another spot where the Mountaineers are inexperienced is behind the plate, where only one of five catchers has starting experience.
Redshirt freshman Max Nogay will make the start on opening day behind the plate after moving from second and serving as the bullpen catcher in 2011.
Junior Matt Malloy started 35 games in 2011, hitting .289 with 24 runs, seven doubles, one triple, three home runs and 15 RBIs. Defensively, Malloy made just four errors with 37 assists.
Junior college transfers Gabe Brown and Alan Filauro will also see time at the position. Brown was an NJCAA Division II First Team All-American and the Region 10 Player of the Year at Lenoir C.C., ranking 11th nationally in batting average (.451) and 13th in home runs (12). Known for his superb fielding, Filauro led Potomac State J.C. to a Region 20 Championship and a third-place finish at the 2011 Junior College World Series.
Redshirt sophomore Marshall Thompson and sophomore Corey Walter will lead the rotation after becoming starters in 2011 on the same day as part of a doubleheader.
Thompson, a southpaw, became a weekend starter last season and started 11 games with a 5-4 record to go with a 4.88 ERA. Thompson pitched two complete games in 66.1 innings with 48 strikeouts.
The right-handed throwing Walter served as a midweek starter and entered conference games in long relief situations, finishing the year with a 4.75 ERA in 12 appearances and four starts. Walter recorded one complete game and pitched in 55 inning, striking out 29 batters.
After missing 2011 because of Tommy John surgery, Eric Hinkle will return to the mound and in 2012. The crafty lefthander made 13 appearances and 12 starts in 2010, striking out 31 in 46.1 innings pitched.
Right-hander Dan Dierdorff is also expected to get some time as a starter after transferring from Frederick C.C. as the school’s career leader in innings pitched and strikeouts, and being named a 2011 NJCAA Division II Second Team All-American.
Sophomore Ryan Tezak will once again be the top guy out of the bullpen after recording four saves in 16 appearances with a 3.81 ERA his rookie season. In 28.1 innings pitched, Tezak struck out 30 batters and allowed just 12 runs while compiling a 3-2 record.
Also returning in the bullpen is sophomore Josh Harlow, who proved to be a key member of the staff down the stretch and finished with a 1-1 record and a 4.55 ERA in 11 appearances. Harlow struck out 22 batters in 31.2 innings.
Freshman Caleb Ross and junior Austin Pressly are also expected to be important contributors out of the bullpen, while Antone and Brown both have the ability to pitch in relief situations. Antone served as Potomac State J.C.’s closer last season and led the team to big wins en route to a NJCAA World Series berth.
The Mountaineers open the 2012 campaign on Friday morning at 10 a.m. in St. Petersburg, Fla., against Northwestern in the Big East-Big Ten Baseball Challenge. West Virginia will also face Penn State on Saturday afternoon before wrapping up weekend play with a pair of games against Iowa and Michigan on Sunday.
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