MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Disregard all that snow on the ground. Ignore the fluctuating temperatures. Imagine a world in which you've traded in your sweaters for shorts. Because, while you might not know it looking out the window, it's baseball season. Penn State Harrisburg has already had its schedule altered once due to winter weather but the Lions are set to open their 2019 campaign this weekend. Before the Blue & White take the diamond on Sunday afternoon, be sure to take in all the info you need to know for the upcoming campaign.
Look Who's Back
Penn State Harrisburg will be led by eight seniors in Angstadt and Riotto, as well as shortstop Miguel Torres, second baseman Jackson Struve, outfielder Justin O'Dell, catcher Ethan Kell, outfielder Matt Taylor and pitcher Tristan James. Torres was a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Second-Team All-Conference honoree a year ago after slashing .333/.357/.464 with 61 hits and 38 RBI. Leading the way for the junior class will be American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-Region First-Teamer Bret Williams. A year ago, Williams slashed an outstanding .365/.438/.696 with 66 hits, 14 home runs and an OPS of 1.134. He was named first-team all-conference for his efforts. Also back are fellow juniors in catcher Tyler Aug, first baseman Zachary Koroneos and pitchers Travis Van Houten, Michael De Leon, Justin Kaplan and Brandon Riggs. Among the sophomores, Smith and infielder Ryan McSorley should again contribute this spring. Smith racked up 47 hits and 27 RBI last year, while McSorley posted 44 hits, 43 runs and 31 RBI in 2018. Other returning hurlers with 10-plus appearances from a year ago include Riotto, Zach Gettys, Tyler Jackson, Cameron Michaud and Brad Richards.
The Lions were fortunate to welcome a class of 13 freshmen to campus this year, allowing the program to replenish its depth from a squad that won a program-record 31 games last spring. First-year position players include catcher Nate Bream, infielders Tucker Ell, Travis Kraft and Matt Parks, outfielders Dallas Hite and Caden Malone and slew of pitchers in Bryce Huss, Luke Falcon, Nick Fitzgerald, Kevin Maiolo, Phoenix Spiller, Tyler Stabley and Mason Vogwill.
At the Polls
The CAC released its 2019 baseball preseason poll earlier this month and Penn State Harrisburg was picked to finish third in the league standings by the conference's head coaches. The Lions earned 36 total points to rank third behind the defending conference champions from Salisbury and the runners-up from Christopher Newport. The Sea Gulls earned 48 points and six first-place votes, while CNU tallied 43 points and received two first-place votes. Frostburg State totaled 31 points to earn fourth place, while York (Pa.) rounded out the top five with 22 points.
Circle the Date
March 30-31 – vs. Salisbury, 12 p.m.
After being denied a CAC Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth by the Sea Gulls a year ago, the Blue & White will be out for revenge against the defending conference champions when they visit Middletown for a crucial three-game series in late March. Salisbury entered the season ranked 22nd in the nation by D3baseball.com.
April 7 – vs. Shenandoah, 2 p.m.
Penn State Harrisburg will play host to one of Division III's perennial powers when Shenandoah pays a visit to Middletown for single-game action in early April. The Lions will face one of their toughest non-conference tests of the season, as the Hornets enter the 2019 season ranked 25th in the country in D3baseball.com's Preseason Top 25 Poll.
April 19-20 – vs. Christopher Newport, 1 p.m.
The Lions got the best of Christopher Newport three times last season, including a pair of postseason victories that propelled Penn State Harrisburg into the championship series of the CAC Tournament in May. The three-game series between the Blue & White and CNU should again determine playoff positioning this spring.
The Lions travel to Eastern Mennonite for a season-opening four-game series, beginning on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 24.