Mid-Atlantic Region Preview
Kean will be the team to beat inside FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J. this week. The Cougars (36-8), the national champions in 2007, will look to restore their glory behind a talented cast of hitters and pitchers.
Ken Gregory is among the headline players for Kean, hitting .429 with 47 RBI. He has smashed 11 balls out of the park this season as well while teammate Lee Cavico comes into the tournament hitting .346 with 10 doubles and 41 runs knocked in.
Kyle Walker has been a steady contributor as well, bating .333 with 16 RBI.
The pitching staff features one nine-game winner and a pair of unbeaten pitchers. Mike Russo (9-1) has recorded 55 strikeouts and has a 1.36 ERA. Chris Cirlincione and Kevin Hergert are both 6-0, striking out 26 and 67 batters, respectively.
Kean is the champion of the New Jersey Athletic Conference and has not lost two games in a row all season.
Few teams have taken a tougher road to the regional than Catholic. The Cardinals are in the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1977, and while they won’t be favored to punch a ticket to Appleton as the eighth seed, don’t count them out.
Catholic (22-19) lost nine games in a row at one point this season after being tied for first in the Landmark Conference, but escaped the grip of the misery by winning the conference tournament. The losing streak included five losses by a single run.
The Cardinals have been dangerous on the base paths, coming up with 63 steals on 76 attempts. Matt Grieb has 14 steals this season to pave the way. Marc Hanna is batting .323 with 27 RBI and Ron Esposito has been tough to handle on the hill, going 7-2 with a 3.07 ERA. He has 41 strikeouts.
• Alvernia is making its third straight trip to the regional and the Crusaders (35-7) own an 8-12 record all-time in NCAA tourney play. The third-seeded team in the regional is led by Chris Ray, who is batting .441 with 38 RBI. Travis Wrambel owns a .402 average and has crushed eight home runs while driving in 43 runs.
Andrew Kirk is 9-1 this season and has put away 101 batters with strikeouts. His ERA stands at 1.63. Mike Weinhold hasn’t been bad either, striking out 70 while going 7-1 with a 3.16 ERA.
• Johns Hopkins went to the Finals a year ago, knocking off Kean in the championship game of the region, and the Blue Jays are eager to win another regional title. Johns Hopkins (25-13) is making its fifth straight trip to the regional and is in the midst of its 20th consecutive 25-win season.
Ryan Zakszeski owns a 13-game hit streak coming into the tourney and is batting .307 while Steve Bejsiuk has hit safely in his last 12 games. He owns a .330 average. Alex Eliopoulos is 6-2 with a 2.41 ERA. He has struck out 48 and is the Centennial Conference Pitcher of the Year.
• Rowan has become accustomed to NCAA tourney trips. This is the 20th appearance for the Profs (30-11-1), who have a record of 56-36 in postseason play. The second-seeded team in the region is led by Marc Magliaro, who is batting .337 with 22 RBI. He has scored 33 runs.
Matt Citro is hitting .324 and has scored 33 runs as well. Mike Swietanski has been a leader on the hill, going 7-1 with a 1.39 ERA. He has 58 strikeouts on the year. Steven Melchiorre is 6-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 59 strikeouts.
• Randolph-Macon comes into the tournament as the Old Dominion Athletic Conference champs. The Yellow Jackets (24-18) are paced by Jordan Walton, who is hitting .460 with 81 hits and 56 RBI. He has belted 30 doubles this season.
Brian Jordan is hitting .343 with 24 RBI and Michael Helbis has an 8-2 record with a 3.21 ERA and 44 strikeouts. Jamie Hendrick has been solid as well. He is 6-2 with a 3.41 ERA and has struck out 36.