Baseball Opens Season Strong

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David Otero

LIU Post’s baseball team has won their three of four games to begin the 2012 season. To open the new campaign, the Pioneers traveled down to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and swept a doubleheader on Friday, February 24th, against the West Virginia Wesleyan College Bobcats.

In the first game, the Pioneers won 3-0, as junior pitcher Bo Budkevics threw a complete game shutout. Budkevics struck out 10 batters while only allowing three hits and one walk. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Pioneers cruised to an easy 13-1 victory. The offensive outburst was led by junior outfielder Gabriel Santos who went 4-4 from the plate and drove in six runs. Also, junior first baseman Anthony Corona hit a three-run home run to lead to back-to-back wins.

The following day, the Pioneers suffered their first loss to Felician College by a score of 6-4, but on the same day, the Pioneers managed to get another win when they defeated Concordia College 4-3.

The Pioneers are trying to rebound off a difficult 2011 season in which the team’s record was 20 games under .500 at 14-34. “We need to improve our offensive production,” said interim head coach Bill Gaffney when looking back at last year. “We started four freshmen last year in most games, and, sometimes, it is a lot to ask of a freshman to step in and be productive right from the start.  Those players are more experienced this year, and we have some junior college transfers who will bring additional experience.”

Pitcher Joey Arena is a freshman that Coach Gaffney mentioned as someone who may have a big role on the team as either a spot starter or pitcher to work a few innings late in games. Two junior college transfers noted by Coach Gaffney that should see significant time playing up this season are shortstop Keith Herring and second baseman Angel Pimentel.

“I feel confident that our pitching and defense will keep us in most games, and that will allow our more experienced offense an opportunity to do their job,” said Coach Gaffney. “Our starting pitchers are worth noting; Bo Budkevics, James Stone, Kevin Chenicek, Paul Bischoff, Rafael Martinez and Mike Eckerly all have the potential for outstanding seasons.  On the offensive side, we will look to Anthony Corona, Keith Herring, Rich Maccarone and Matt Simone to get us moving in the right direction.”

In addition, Coach Gaffney has also noticed improvement with several players throughout the offseason, including outfielder Matt Simone, sophomore first baseman Phil LoPrete, and sophomore infielder Tom Tolan.

The Pioneers return to Brookville for their home opener on Saturday, March 4th, for a doubleheader against Stonehill College that starts at 12 p.m. The Pioneers are taking it one game at a time, but the hope and focus of Coach Gaffney and his team is to get to the East Coast Conference playoffs and to capture an automatic bid for the Northeast Regionals.

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