Baseball: Raiders Look to Take Next Step in 2018 Season

Baseball: Raiders Look to Take Next Step in 2018 Season

Mount Union's baseball team will look to another veteran lineup to compete for an Ohio Athletic Conference title after winning the regular season a year ago for the first time since 1970 and losing in the conference championship game.

The Raiders bring back 17 guys from a school record 31-win team that had playing time a year ago including 10 position players with starting experience and seven pitchers.

The offense will be anchored by senior center fielder Billy Goodall (Canfield/South Range) who is a first team Preseason All-American. Goodall, who was the Bob Fisher OAC Player of the Year a season ago led the OAC in batting average at .451 and stolen bases with 25.

Rounding out the experience in the outfield is junior Nate Owen (Cranberry Twp., Pa./Seneca Valley) and senior Angelo Cruz (Lorain/Elyria Catholic). Owen played in 32 games last year and hit .283 while Cruz started in six games and played in 27 games mainly as pinch runner and defensive replacement. Senior designated hitter and outfielder, Joey Keleman (North Olmsted) led the team a year ago with 37 RBI's while hitting .348 at the plate.

The top newcomers competing for outfield spots include freshman Nathan Duliba (Berea/Midpark) and Nate Emerson (Franklin, Pa./Franklin Area).

The infield will be sparked by senior shortstop Jimmy Scott (Holland/Toledo St. John's) who had 59 put-outs and 117 assists with only 10 errors. Scott also hit .300 with a 36 RBI's. Junior first baseman Nick Satovich (New Kensington, Pa./Plum) played in all 42 games for the Raiders hitting .339 while driving in 16 runs. Senior Christian Stanziano (Oberlin/Elyria Catholic) who played in 14 games a year ago, will look to secure the middle infield at second base with Scott.

The Raiders are also looking to get contributions in the infield from Niklas Kuriger (Atco, N.J./Winslow Township), Collin Scott (Richmond/Edison) and Bryant Kennedy (Chagrin Falls).

The catching will be split between juniors Travis Wood (Hudson) and Jake Smith (Salem/West Branch) while freshman Coleman Stauffer (Boardman) will also get some looks behind the plate. Wood caught 31 games a year ago where he threw out four baserunners and only had five past balls. Smith caught in 25 games where he threw out three baserunners while also only having five past balls.

The pitching staff will be led by junior Phil Mary (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) who is also a member of the First Team All-American team with Goodall. A year ago, Mary earned the Kent Takulve OAC Pitcher of the Year after he posted a 10-0 record with a 0.78 earned run average in 81.0 innings.

Behind Mary, the veteran pitching staff will also have senior Noah Skladan (Amherst/Steele) who posted a 5-3 record with a 2.76 ERA. Seniors Mike Martin (Independence), Darren Krolikowski (Independence) and Collin Fitzgerald (LaGrange/Keystone) will also be key starters for the Raiders this upcoming season. Senior Beau Taylor (Alliance/West Branch) will anchor the Raider bullpen as the key reliever and spot starter.

The Raiders pitching staff will look for key contributions from sophomore Tyler Gorse (Glenshaw, Pa./Shady Side Academy) and freshmen Collin Skufca (Wooster) and Dylan Neider (Wooster/Triway).

Veteran head coach Paul Hesse, in his 22nd season, comes into the year with a 430-366-4 overall record and is one win away from 200 conference wins as he holds a 199-170 OAC record.

Mount Union opens their season this Sunday, February 25 at No. 14 ranked Wooster before heading to Florida for their annual spring trip where they will play nine games. The home-opener for the Raiders is a Sunday double header on March 18 against Westminster starting at 2 p.m.