By GREG AUMAN
CARY, N.C.—Monmouth righthander Pat Light, ranked No. 53 on Baseball America's preseason Top 100 list of 2012 draft prospects, got his season off to a strong start Friday in a 10-2 Hawks victory against Wright State.
Light pitched seven innings, giving up a run in the second inning but cruising the rest of the way. He struck out six and walked none. Light's fastball touched 96 mph in the first inning and sat in the low 90s through the early frames, while settling into the 87-89 mph range in the later innings. His fastball had solid late life down in the zone, and after giving up a run-scoring double to Wright State's Zach Tanner and a hard single later in the innings, Light located his fastball well.
His slider and changeup both sat in the 79-81 mph range early, losing 3-4 mph as the game went on, but Light was effective locating both to his glove side. His command was good enough that he needed just 89 pitches to go seven innings.
Sophomore second baseman Jake Gronsky had three hits and four RBIs to pace the Hawks offense.
Kennesaw State sophomore Ronnie Freeman helped rally the Holyoke Blue Sox past the Danbury Westerners, 7-5, in a meeting of the top two teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League's western division on Wednesday evening.
With his team trailing 5-4 in the top of the ninth, Freeman launched the first pitch he saw for a game-tying solo shot, part of a 3-for-5, two-RBI performance for the catcher. The Blue Sox then took the lead and added some insurance thanks to RBI base hits from sophomore DH Justin Ringo (Stanford) and shortstop Kris Richards (UNC-Greensboro).
Summer baseball officially gets underway tonight as South Carolina returns to Columbia as College World Series champions for the second straight year.
Before that, though, the Collegiate National Team—which has been preparing for this weekend's Prospect Classic at Durham Bulls Athletic Park by taking on teams from the New England Collegiate Baseball League—faced off with the NECBL all-star team at Fenway Park on Monday afternoon.
The game was more of a showcase/tryout event than anything else, as the NECBL ran out 10 pitchers and Team USA fielded seven, but the NECBL did come away with a 3-2 victory led by 1-for-2 performances from sophomore catcher Tom Murphy (Holyoke) and junior catcher Brandon Miller (New Bedford).
The Collegiate National Team, which is still waiting for several players to report from the College World Series, started LSU freshman Kevin Gausman. Gausman, a 2010 sixth-round pick by the Dodgers who jumped right into the Tigers weekend rotation this spring, threw the first three innings, yielding one run on two hits. Duke righthander Marcus Stroman, who was recently plucked from Cape Cod after six innings of eight-strikeout one-hit ball for Orleans, struck out all three batters he faced. Stroman had four saves and a 2.80 ERA for the Blue Devils this spring.
Arizona State sophomore shortstop Deven Marrero, a 2011 Baseball America Preseason All-American, and Arkansas first baseman Dominic Ficociello, a Baseball America All-Freshman team selection this spring, drove in Team USA’s only runs.
Meanwhile in the Northwoods League, nine teams entered today with above .500 records. Last night, four of the nine games played were one-run affairs, indicative of the league’s parity. The Madison Mallards, who are tied with Eau Claire for first place in the South Division, split a seven inning double-header with the Wisconsin Woodchucks. Going into game one, Madison had won seven of their last nine, but Woodchuck starter Tom Briner, a redshirt junior out of UC Davis, cruised through the Mallard bats, striking out eight and surrendering just three hits in six innings of work. Briner, a late-inning reliever this spring, has been as dominant as any Northwoods arm in his first three starts, allowing just one run in his first 16 innings of work.
Madison would get revenge in game two, however, thanks to a walk-off home run from leadoff hitter Justin Parr, an Illinois sophomore. Elon sophomore center fielder Niko Fraser had two-hits in the game, and Chris Lamb, an 11th-round draft-and-follow by Oakland out of Davidson, and Matt Milroy, also a member of the Fighting Illini, tempered the Woodchuck bats to just two runs on four hits.
The Mallards walk-off win was one of three Northwoods walk-off wins last night. The Green Bay Bullfrogs and Battle Creek Bombers were both 14-10 before the Bullfrogs’ Billy Moon (Gonzaga) drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 12th, part of a 4-for-6 day that included an RBI.
Alexandria also won in extras, ignoring an early 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in 10 innings. Logan Bowers, who came into the game as a pinch-runner, proved to be the hero, singling with the bases loaded, overshadowing gutsy pitching performances from LSU’s Michael Reed and Eastern Kentucky’s Anthony Bazzani. Bazzani threw three scoreless innings of relief and now has 28 strikeouts in 20.1 innings of relief.
The Mankato Moondogs, who sit atop the North Division standings, had a rough day against the struggling Thunder Bay Border Cats falling 12-2 via multi-hit games from Cullen Mahoney (South Mountain, Ariz.), Kevin Taylor (St. Joe’s), Evan Weibel (Nicholls State), Ty Wosleger (Fairfield), and Matt Stevens (Eastern Michican), but it was the Moondogs’ Blain Schwartz who stole the show the night before. Against Thunder Bay, Schwartz, a junior from Minnesota State, threw a complete game two-hit shut out with 14 strikeouts and no walks. Schwartz has been dominant for Mankato in the early going, allowing no more than one run in any of his five starts, and he has struck out 42 in 33 innings.
There were also several notable performances on the Cape last night, led by Jacksonville sophomore Adam Brett Walker, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, including his second home run of the summer for Hyannis. Bourne got a big outing from UConn freshman Brian Ward who struck out seven through five innings of two-hit ball, stifling hot-hitting Harwich, and Yarmouth-Dennis sneaked by Orleans 5-4 thanks to solid outings from UC Irvine freshman Andrew Thurman and St. John’s sophomore Kyle Hansen.
Thurman turned in his best outing of the season, throwing six innings, while Hansen threw the finals three. Together, the duo struck out 10 and walked none. The Red Sox were led at the dish by a pair of long home runs, a two-run shot in the second from Arkansas sophomore Matt Reynolds, and a three-run blast from Florida State junior James Ramsey, the Twins 22nd round draft-and-follow, in the fifth.
There are plenty of hot hitters in every college summer league, from Cape Cod to Alaska and everywhere in between, but over the last few months, no one has been hotter than Howard JC outfielder Tyler Collins.
Collins—who transferred to Howard after one year at Baylor, where he hit .404 in 29 games for the Bears—dominated NJCAA Division I competition this spring. He led the country with 19 home runs and finished second with a .488 average and 82 RBIs en route to the National player of the year award. Collins also stole 16 bases, hit a school record 34 doubles, and was awarded the Rawlings Gold Glove award for his defense in left field.
“I never thought (winning national player of the year award honors) could really happen,” the sophomore said. “But after the season, I looked at the numbers and thought, ‘Wow, I had a pretty good year.’ It’s a real honor and really incredible.”
Baseball America is accepting applications from college students for summer internships. Our interns have done everything from enter data for our books to write a chapter of our Prospect Handbook—and everything in between. Among other duties, our summer interns will help us scout the Tournament of Stars and Team USA, and cover the minor leagues and the Division II College World Series.
Though we expect candidates to have a passion for baseball, it is equally important to have journalism experience. Applicants should have experience writing for a newspaper or working for a college sports information department.
To apply, email a resume and writing samples to Josh Leventhal at email@example.com.
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