By Steve Beard, LebCoSports Senior Baseball Contributor
Like that, college baseball comes to a close for many of the guys we’ve tracked this year. We first reported on action during the week of February 6, 2023 and covered twenty eight players this year, conservatively estimated at 1,200 box scores. Whether it’s D1, D2, D3, JuCo, or NAIA, playing college baseball takes an insane amount of dedication and perseverance, work ethic and talent, drive and determination.
For the college baseball player, upon return to campus in January, indoor work begins in earnest. The regular season begins in windy and cold conditions (at least in the Northeast). If a player is lucky, his team heads south for a couple days or maybe a week—Florida, the Carolinas, Tennessee—only to return to freezing weather. A midweek game will be followed by a Friday nine and twin sevens on Saturday, or it could be three nines on the weekend with two midweek match ups. Three to four hour practices on off days are the norm. Once conference play heats up, coaches have determined who their guys are and performance is the only currency that buys you playing time. Once the weather is nice, it’s time for playoffs—which is in the middle of finals week for most guys. Seniors graduate. Dorms are vacated. Summer time begins—players head to a college league, or men’s league, or gym work. The grind, as they say, never stops.
Next week, we will be tracking one player, Dakota Smith, as Frederick Community College heads to the NJCAA D2 World Series in Enid, Oklahoma. The official site at NJCAA Division 2 CWS has not released bracket details as of press time.
FEATURED PLAYER HIGHLIGHT
Tyler Long, Mount Saint Mary’s University, (Annville-Cleona ’20) Season Stats
In a senior day midweek tune up versus Coppin State, junior SS Tyler Long got things started early for the Mount. He hit a two run double in the bottom of the first and subsequently scored in what would become an offensive avalanche for MSM. He finished the day 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run, adding a walk in a 13-1 win (Box Score). In his first plate appearance against Niagara, Long dropped a sac bunt but, the inning ended on a double play without a run scoring. MSM came storming back to take the lead, but ultimately fell in game one of the series, 9-8 (Box Score). Niagara eliminated the Mountaineers from post season play by winning game 2, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth (Box Score). Long was 1 for 4 with an RBI and a walk in the game and had a two hit game as Niagara completed the sweep (Box Score). Long ended the season with a .324 average and will play for the Upper Valley Nighthawks in the New England College Baseball League as he prepares for his senior year (Team Website with Livestream info).
ON THE MOUND
Austin Beard, Northampton Community College (Cedar Crest ’22) Season Stats
Northampton advanced to the Region XIX Final Four, a double elimination event that leads to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division 2 College World Series (CWS). This bracket featured the #1 team in the nation, Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester, as well as the #9, #10, and #11 teams in the nation (Middlesex, Brookdale, and Northampton). In the opening game against Middlesex, the freshman right hander entered a tie game in the bottom of the sixth, NCC just having coughed up a two run lead. Beard struck out the two hitter looking to end the threat (video). In the seventh, Beard worked around a walk, a bloop single, and a hit batter, allowing no runs as the worked through the middle of the order, ending the inning on another looking strikeout (video). Allowing no runs in the eighth, NCC scored two in the top of the ninth. Beard retired the 2-3-4 hitters in order in the ninth (video), earning the win, 7-5 (Box Score) with a final line of 3.1IP, 2H, BB, HBP, 3K and no runs. NCC was eliminated in losses to Gloucester and Brookdale. Beard will coach the 17u Cedar Crest team entered in the Lanco Midget League (Link) and will throw limited innings for the Lebanon Longshots this summer.
Dakota Smith, Frederick Community College (ELCO ’21) Season Stats NJCAA Division 2 CWS
The Cougars have qualified for the NJCAA Division 2 CWS, which starts May 27, 2023.
Cameron Dubbs, Penn State Altoona, (Palmyra ’20) Season Stats PSU-Altoona (20-25) opened up the NCAA Regional against #1 Johns Hopkins (39-4). Hopkins, a perennial D3 powerhouse, asserted their reputation on the Lions in the opening game, winning 23-9 (Box Score). Dubbs threw 2-1/3 innings and felt the force of the Hopkins offense. PSU Altoona bowed out the following game against St. John Fisher. Dubbs appeared in fourteen games for the Lions and threw 25.1 innings, compiling a 2-1 record.
Riley Blatt, Penn State-Harrisburg (ELCO ’21) Season Stats
PSU – Harrisburg (33-10) qualified for the NCAA Regional Tournament and hosted a best-of-five series against #3 Salisbury (30-5). The Lions picked up a win on Saturday morning to even the series at one game a piece, but were unable to win another and were eliminated early Sunday afternoon. Blatt did not pitch in the series.
Braden Collazo, Penn State-Harrisburg (Lebanon High School ’22) Season Stats
PSU – Harrisburg (33-10) qualified for the NCAA Regional Tournament and hosted a best-of-five series against #3 Salisbury (30-5). The Lions picked up a win on Saturday morning to even the series at one game a piece, but were unable to win another and were eliminated early Sunday afternoon. Collazo did not pitch in the series.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
Austin Baal, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania (Palmyra ’19) Season Stats
Shippensburg University opened up round one of the NCAA D2 Baseball Tournament in the Atlantic 2 Bracket, facing PSAC Champion Seton Hill (Bracket). Ship jumped out to a quick four run first inning, but Seton Hill answered with seven in the bottom of the first and never looked back, cruising to a 14-6 win (Box Score). In addition to a slick play at first (Video), Baal was 2 for 5 with a run scored including a double (Video). In Friday’s loser bracket game, Baal was 1 for 4 with an RBI and a walk, but Ship was eliminated by East Stroudsburg, 20-4 (Box Score). Baal was a important piece to the season for Ship winning 27 games, their highest total in five years. Baal will play summer baseball at an as-yet-to-be-determined venue.
Noah Gonzalez, Northampton Community College (Cedar Crest ’22) Season Stats Northampton advanced to the Region XIX Final Four, a double elimination event that leads to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division 2 College World Series (CWS). This bracket featured the #1 team in the nation, Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester, as well the #9, #10, and #11 teams in the nation (Middlesex, Brookdale, and Northampton). In game one of the tournament, Gonzalez entered as a pinch runner, advanced to third on a ground ball and made a great read as the ball kicked off the first baseman’s glove and scampered home with an insurance run in the ninth, as the Spartans won the crucial first game (Box Score). Gonzalez entered as a defensive replacement late in a 10-0 loss to #1 RCSJ-Gloucester (Box Score). Brookdale eliminated NCC on Saturday. Gonzalez intends to return to Fredericksburg Legion this summer and will see time with the Lebanon Longshots.
Gavin Neal, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, (Palmyra ’21) announced on Instagram on May 16, 2023 that he will be continuing his academic and athletic career at Lock Haven. The Palmyra grad completed two solid years at D2 JuCo Mercer Community College.
Dalton Reinhart, Stevenson University, (Cedar Crest ’21) announced on Instagram on May 19, 2023 that he will be continuing his academic and athletic career at Stevenson upon graduation from Mercer County Community College. Reinhart will have the opportunity to reunite with fellow Crest alum Amani Jones.
The following soon-to-be high school graduates will play in the following places next year:
Brian Lowen, Central Penn College, (Northern Lebanon ’23)
DJ Byerly, Virginia Wesleyan, (Northern Lebanon ’23)
Jared Ecenroad, Delaware Valley University, (Northern Lebanon ’23)
Jordy Polanco, Lebanon Valley College, (Lebanon HS ’23)
Nick Pagano, Neumann University (ELCO ’23)
Robbie Best, Community College of Baltimore County- Essex (Palmyra ’23)
If you are looking to provide feedback or are a business or individual interested in providing sponsorship to aid our mission at LebCoSports, you are asked to contact Dan by emailing email@example.com.