Baseball – 2014 Preview: Wall
Wall Crimson Knights
Head Coach: Todd Schmitt, 17th season
Record Last Year: 22-6 (10-2, first place in B North)
|Returning Starters||Yr.||Position||2013 Batting Stats||2013 Pitching Stats|
|Dan Wondrack||Jr.||C||.342/.490/.461, 9 2B, 17 RBI|
|Jack Gifford||Sr.||1B||.289/.410/.337, 2 2B, 1 3B, 21 R, 13 RBI, 9 SB|
|Branden Biegert||Sr.||2B||.305/.414/.354, 4 2B, 14 R, 18 RBI, 9 SB|
|Chris Barcas||Sr.||SS||.355/.425/.376, 2 2B, 18 R, 10 RBI, 8 SB|
|Ryan Orender||Jr.||3B/P||.250/.337/.300, 4 2B, 11 R, 15 RBI|
|Matt Tancredi||Sr.||OF||.259/.319/.301, 4 2B, 16 R, 10 RBI, 5 SB|
|Nick Martinez||Jr.||OF||.411/.480/.500, 8 2B, 24 R, 11 RBI, 7 RBI|
|Tim Willey||Sr.||OF||.337/.433/.434, 6 2B, 1 3B, 15 R, 15 RBI, 7 SB|
|Tyler Swiggart||Sr.||P||67.2 IP, 44 H, 19 BB, 52 K, 0.83 ERA, 8-1|
|Steve Coltrain||Sr.||P||28.1 IP, 34 H, 5 BB, 18 K, 1.98 ERA, 3-0|
|Returning Players||Yr.||Position||2013 Batting Stats||2013 Pitching Stats|
|Brendan Brady||Sr.||1B||1-for-5, 1 BB, 3 RBI|
|Brendan Barcas||Jr.||UTIL||14 R, 4 SB|
Key Losses: Luke Malone (P/OF), Vin Amato (P)
Key Newcomers: Bobby Patterson (Sr., P)
It’s hard to see a negative side to bringing back every single position player and two out of three starting pitchers, which is what Wall will be running out to the field on opening day. There are some teams that have the luxury of playing the same group of players in consecutive seasons, but very few get to do it after winning 22 games with that group in the first year. Wall advanced to both the Monmouth County Tournament and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship games with a team of juniors and sophomores that will return a year older and, presumably, a year better.
Behind a deep lineup of players one might consider “tough outs” and a one-two punch of senior Luke Malone and Tyler Swiggart on the mound, Wall was steady for most of the year, which made the Crimson Knights’ loss to Neptune late in the division schedule all the more perplexing. They got the job done with pitching, defense and tough at-bats, but if there was anything lacking in Wall’s game it was in the power department. The Crimson Knights did not hit a single home run last season and only one of their players slugged over .500 – junior Nick Martinez. Rather than the home run discrediting Wall, however, Wall simply undermined the perceived importance of the home run, instead winning with pitchers who throw quality strikes, defenders who catch the ball, and hitters who get on base and don’t swing and miss often. It was truly a team of good players who became even better as a group.
Swiggart returns to once again lead the pitching staff after a selection to the All-Shore second team as a junior. He will be backed by senior Steve Coltrain, who posted a 1.98 ERA in 28 innings last year as the No. 3 starter, and senior newcomer Bobby Patterson. The senior trio will pitch in front of a stellar defense led by shortstop Chris Barcas, Martinez in center field and junior catcher Dan Wondrack. While those three are the three players at the premium defensive positions, Wall also has excellent defenders at the five other spots as well.
The only thing that can stop Wall this season is any sense of entitlement that might develop based on last year’s accomplishments. If the Knights forget what got them to two championship games and expect it to just fall into place, then some team can pick them off. If Wall plays like it did last year, taking every inch that the opposition gives them, then the Knights should be even better this year.