GLASSBORO – The Rowan University baseball team is coming off a successful 2018 season, which included a No. 1 ranking in the country, a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title and an appearance in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament.
The Profs finished the year with a 35-11 record and a 12-6 conference mark. Rowan returns a healthy number of players from last season and head coach Mike Dickson is ready to start the year with the mindset of no regrets.
“We have a lot of seniors on the roster this year,” said Dickson. “What I have been telling them from day one is to leave the program better than when you started and to have no regrets. This should be an exciting year for our team, but we need to take it one day at a time.”
Last year, the Brown and Gold was among the top teams in the country in Division III. For seven weeks, Rowan was ranked number one or two in either the D3baseball.com and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Polls. This season, the Profs were picked first in the NJAC, sixth in the D3baseball.com and 10th in the ABCA Preseason Polls.
“It’s going to be a challenging year for us,” Dickson stated. “Every team we face will give us their best. We need to be prepared not to have any easy wins this season.”
Rowan returns its top two starters on the mound, Danny Serreino (sr. Jackson, NJ/Jackson Liberty) and Andrew DiPiazza (sr. Bayville, NJ/Central Reg.). Serreino led the NJAC last season with the lowest earned run average (ERA) of 1.25. The right-hander finished with a 7-2 record and 89 strikeouts in 79 innings pitched. Serreino was named to the D3baseball.com All-America second team and ABCA All-America third team. He was selected to the 2019 D3baseball.com Preseason All-America first team. Serreino was chosen the ABCA/Rawlings Mid-Atlantic Region Pitcher of the Year and also garnered All-Region and NJAC All-Conference first team accolades. Serreino was picked as a captain for this season. DiPiazza was next in the conference in lowest ERA with 1.49. The righty went 7-1 on the mound, with 78 strikeouts in 60.1 innings. DiPiazza earned ABCA All-Region second team, D3baseball.com All-Region third team and NJAC All-Conference second team honors.
“Danny and Andrew are our top two arms,” Dickson added. “They are everything you want in a starter. Danny and Andrew can control the game from the mound and they should be more motivated to perform better this season than last.”
Drew Ryback (jr. Mantua, NJ/Clearview Reg.) and Justin Smith (sr. Atco, NJ/Hammonton) are locked in as the third and fourth pitchers, while Jeremy Dyzenhaus (jr. Morganville, NJ/Marlboro), Dan Corvo (so. River Vale, NJ/Pascack Valley) and Shane Kubrak (jr. Cherry Hill, NJ/Paul IV) will take turns in the final spot of the rotation. Ryback made 12 appearances last year and recorded an 8-1 mark. The left-hander had a 2.83 ERA and 43 strikeouts. Smith made 13 appearances, primarily out of the bullpen. The righty went 1-2 in 31.2 innings, had three saves and struck out 27 batters. Dyzenhaus, a right-hander, pitched 21 innings with a 4.29 ERA. He recorded two saves and 15 strikeouts. Corvo is a flex pitcher, where he will be used as a starter and a reliever. The righty appeared in 13 contests while producing 14 strikeouts and four saves. Kubrak, a lefty, appeared in nine games with one start, striking out 13 batters.
“Drew and Justin gives us a solid four-pitcher rotation,” Dickson mentioned. “Jeremy, Dan and Shane are guys that we can use as either starters or long relievers. In the NJAC, I believe to be successful you need to have four or five good pitchers. Lucky for us, we have great depth at this position and I know anyone can step up in a pinch.”
Andrew Cartier (sr. Estell Manor, NJ/Buena Reg.) was a starter for the Profs last season, but this year he is the closer. Corvo will be a reliever in conference games, while Victor Lebron (sr. Blackwood, NJ/Highland Reg.) and Zach Listro (jr. Swedesboro, NJ/Kingsway Reg.) will see action as well. Cartier appeared in 10 games with nine starts and had a 4-2 record. The right-hander pitched 51 innings with a 3.35 ERA and struck out 59 batters. Cartier is a captain for the 2019 season. Lebron saw action last year as a reliever, throwing 11.2 innings and recording seven strikeouts. Listro, a right-handed reliever, appeared in 16 games and struck out nine batters.
“We are gaining some depth towards the end of the bullpen with Andrew back there,” Dickson added. “He is going to be our closer in the ninth, but we will also use him in a two-inning roll. Corvo will be a reliever in conference games, while Lebron and Listro will be called upon when we need to get out of a jam.”
In 2018, the baseball team lost six games when leading or tied after the seventh inning. Dickson knew this is something that needed to be addressed entering the new season.
“This is something that the coaching staff has looked into,” Dickson continued. “If we won a few of those games, we are looking at almost 40 wins. Pulling Andrew back to be a reliever was the big adjustment we made to address this issue.”
Rowan returns Steven Hewa (sr. Galloway, NJ/Absegami) and Zach Leach (sr. Long Valley, NJ/Pope John XXIII) to the catcher position. Jared Marks (so. South Plainfield, NJ/South Plainfield) will also see time in the three-player rotation. Hewa appeared in 32 games and started 24 behind the plate. He batted .253, with nine RBIs and 13 runs. Leach had 19 starts at catcher. He hit .306 with seven RBIs and scored seven times. Marks made 10 appearances and had a .308 batting average while contributing three runs and two RBIs.
“We have a great three-catcher rotation this year,” Dickson stated. “They all bring something different to the table which will help us overall. Jared is great defensively, Zach is an offensive force and Steven is the all-around player that every team needs.”
Anthony Harrold is back at first base for the Profs. Harrold started in 42 contests and batted .373 with a .568 slugging percentage. He hit 14 doubles, two triples, five homers and 39 RBIs and scored 43 times. Harrold earned ABCA/Rawlings Mid-Atlantic All-Region second team and NJAC All-Conference honorable mention accolades.
“Anthony had a lot of pressure last season to be the big hitter,” Dickson noted. “We made sure to bring in additional offensive weapons who can relieve some of the burden off him. In return, he should see better pitches to swing at.”
Alex Kokos (jr. Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley) is set at second base for his junior season. He started 45 games and hit .325 with 33 RBIs, nine doubles, a triple, two home runs and 36 runs. Kokos was selected to the All-Region and NJAC All-Conference second teams. The second baseman was picked as a captain for 2019.
“We are excited to have Alex back at second,” Dickson said. “He is a junior captain, so we have high expectations for him. He is a leader of the field and have been a consistent hitter his first two seasons.”
Nick Schooley (so. Marlton, NJ/Cherokee), Victor Cruz (so. Westfield, NJ/Westfield) and Bauer Fichter (fr. Haddonfield, NJ/Haddonfield Mem.) will split time at third base. Schooley started 20 games and batted .333. He recorded 17 runs, seven RBIs and a triple. Schooley was named to the NJAC All-Conference honorable mention team. Cruz appeared in five games and registered 12 putouts with a fielding percentage of .923.
“We are going to be strategic this year when it comes to choosing who will play at third each contest,” Dickson continued. “Nick and Bauer both bat lefty and Victor is a righty. We are going to base who will start on the pitching matchup. All three guys at this position are solid choices, but we will utilize the versatility we have to better ourselves.”
Dillon Mendel (sr. Sparta, NJ/Sparta) is at shortstop for his senior campaign. He led the squad with a .376 batting average, 40 RBIs, 39 runs, 15 doubles, six triples and two home runs. Mendel garnered All-Region second team honors and was named NJAC honorable mention.
“Dillon split time between third and shortstop,” Dickson commented. “Last year, at times he struggled defensively at short but has improved during the offseason. He is an all-around player that can change the momentum of the game. Dillon is a two-year captain, so we will expect him to lead us in the right direction.”
Dan Shane (sr. Perkasie, PA/Pennridge) is the lone returning outfielder for the Brown and Gold. Last season, he started all 46 contests, hit .270 with 19 RBIs, eight doubles, four triples and one homer and scored 39 runs. Shane led the team in stolen bases (26) and had a fielding percentage of .988.
“Our offense revolves around Dan,” Dickson continued. “When he gets on base, we score runs. Dan does everything to create havoc for the other team. He is a key component to the offense and I am excited to see what he will do this season.”
Rowan graduated two starting outfielders and must fill the void for the upcoming season. The Profs look to transfers Eric Schorr (jr. Audubon, NJ/Audubon) and Matt Woods (sr. Berlin, NJ/Eastern Reg.) to be the replacements. Schorr previously played at Rowan College at Gloucester County. In 2016, he batted .368 with 66 runs scored, 64 RBIs, 16 doubles, three triples and 13 home runs. Woods is a transfer from Division I St. John’s University. In 2018, he started 25 of 28 games and hit .261. Woods totaled 12 RBIs, 14 runs, four doubles, one triple and a home run.
“Eric and Matt are great additions to the roster,” Dickson noted. “They have great experience being a part of successful programs and will make a tremendous impact on the team.”
Newcomer Mitch Walker (jr. Pennsville, NJ/Pennsville Mem.) will take over the responsibility as the designated hitter for Rowan. Walker came from Cumberland County College. In 2017, he batted .435 with 78 RBIs and scored 74 runs. Walker helped lead his team to the National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) Division III World Series. He was named to the All-America first team and NJCAA All-Tournament team.
“Mitch will be our designated hitter,” Dickson said. “He has played in a World Series and having that type of experience on our roster will only benefit us in the postseason.”
“The coaching staff wanted to bring in some players who could help us out offensively, so we added Eric, Matt and Mitch. They all have a history of consistent hitting and expect them to help us score runs every game.”
Last year, the Profs were the top seeded team heading into the regional tournament. Rowan lost in the semifinals ending its season shorter than expected. The Brown and Gold has made a regional appearance the past two seasons. Rowan will use veteran leadership throughout the year to get them back in the hunt for a national championship.
“We were disappointed where we finished last year,” Dickson added. “We were the best team at the regional, but not that weekend. Baseball is all about rolls. We played well all season long, but we were outplayed that weekend.”
The baseball team opens at Stevens Institute of Technology on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. The Profs stay on the road as they head to Randolph-Macon College for three games on Saturday-Sunday, March 2-3. Rowan travels to Arcadia University on Wednesday, March 6 at 3 p.m. The Brown and Gold goes to Immaculata University on Saturday, March 9, with the doubleheader slated for 1 p.m. Rowan plays eight contests at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational on Friday-Saturday March, 15-23. Rowan’s home opener is against Haverford College on Tuesday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m. The Profs start conference action on Saturday, March 30 when it hosts Kean University for a doubleheader at 11:30 a.m.
“I keep saying no regrets,” Dickson finished. “I want the team not to have any regrets when the season is over. We are capable of having a great season, we just need to play consistent and take it one day at a time.”