Coming off of their best season in school history by falling just short of a Liberty League Championship, the Dutchmen Baseball team has started to begin their preparations for the 2014 season.
The Dutchmen posted a record of 26-13, along with a Liberty League best in-conference record of 20-6. According to returning pitcher, Chris Pignatello ’15, the season last year was “Marked by several comeback wins, great pitching and amazing team chemistry.”
Pignatello also claims that their number-one goal this season is to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament and he thinks they have a really good shot at doing so. After saying goodbye to seven members of a very strong 2013 senior class, including ECAC Baseball Upstate First Team-All-Star, Tyler Heck, the Dutchmen have several holes in their lineup to fill.
Among the six returning seniors, three of them were named as captains to lead this year’s squad. Vincent Esposito, David Peretti and Dane O’Neil will be great captains for the team this spring, accordinh to returning junior Ryan Atkins. “All three of them are outstanding baseball players that lead by example every time they take the field.”
Esposito returns this season as the teams starting left fielder and clutch leadoff hitter batting from the left side. He earned All-Liberty League Second Team honors last year by batting .383 during the year with two home runs, 20 runs batted in and led the Dutchmen in hits with 59, as he looks to continue his very strong play going into this season.
Peretti will be starting behind the plate for the Dutchmen this season. Peretti was a strong bat for the Dutchmen in the middle of their batting order last spring as he plans to be an even bigger force for them in his final season at Union.
O’Neill highlights the front of the Dutchmen’s pitching rotation this year as the teams “Ace.” The hard throwing right hander from Canajoharie, NY is coming off of a phenomenal season last year as he led the Liberty League in wins (6), complete games (6) and led the nation in ERA at 0.64, earning him Liberty League Pitcher of the Year honors.
The other seniors playing their final season as Union Dutchmen are Joe Bradlee, Sam Caruso and Andrew Beaule. Bradlee and Caruso are returning as starters from last year, as Bradlee will be holding down 2nd base and Caruso will be manning center field. “JB and Caruso always seem to leave it all on the field” according to returning junior infielder Anders Goetz.
Beaule will be doing most of his work from the bullpen this spring as he is known to consistently hit his targets and throw very good off-speed pitches.
The Russmatt Central Florida Invitational along with a tough out of conference schedule and key series against RPI and Vassar highlight the upcoming 2014 season. Every March, the Dutchmen travel to Florida to begin their season at the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational where they play seven out of conference games.
As soon as they return to Schenectady, they open their conference schedule against Bard College, who is new to the Liberty League this year.
Key out of conference games include matchups against University of Wisconsin Whitewater and Middlebury College, who are both new to the Dutchmen’s schedule this year. The Dutchmen have their sights set on a huge series against rival RPI on April 12 and 13.
While the Dutchmen were able to defeat RPI in the regular season series last spring, the Engineers ultimately got the best of them in the Liberty League championship, so the Dutchmen will most certainly be seeking revenge against their bitter rivals this April.
The Dutchmen baseball team is also very glad to have sophomore Justin Lloyd, from Milton, MA back with the team. Lloyd was not able to play with the team last year due to a battle with cancer but has made a remarkable recovery and is ready to contribute to the team’s success this spring.
Last season, the Dutchmen’s team motto was “Lloydstrong” in support of Justin and his brave battle with cancer. Other notable players looking to have a big impact this year include returning junior relief pitcher Chris Pignatello, starting junior infielder Anders Goetz and incoming freshman Jake Fishman. Pignatello will take over the role as the team’s closer this year. He pitched 17 innings and posted a 3.71 earned run average (ERA) out of the bullpen last year for the Dutchmen.
Pignatello isn’t the hardest thrower on the team, but he is a great situational pitcher as he has a wide variety of off-speed pitches and is very calm under pressure. Goetz will be making the transition from second base to shortstop this spring for the Dutchmen. The 5’7” junior from Cohasset, MA finished last season batting .304 with one homerun and 19 RBI’s.
He is known for his quick hands and “scrappy” mentality as some of his teammates have compared his playing style to that of Boston Red Sox all-star second baseman, Dustin Pedroia.
First-year Jake Fishman, a left-handed pitcher from Sharon, MA, is expected to have an immediate impact with the Dutchmen this year.
The hard throwing south paw is projected to be a front of the rotation starting pitcher, according to Goetz, as he throws a fastball in the high 80’s and sports a great breaking – ball as well.
Overall, the Union Dutchmen Baseball team has a promising season ahead of themselves.
Led by co-captains Vincent Esposito, David Peretti and Dane O’Neil, along with head coach Paul Mound, who with the rest of his coaching staff received Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year honors; the Dutchmen are bound to have yet another successful season.