24. MERCYHURST LAKERS (39-17)

24. MERCYHURST LAKERS (39-17)
Final 2012 Ranking: 29

The Lakers continued their strong string of baseball success last season, winning the PSAC West for the third time and four years and finished one victory shy of having back-to-back 40-win seasons. MU advanced to the Atlantic Regional for the second season in a row, but sleepy bats and unearned runs spelled doom for the Lakers who had their season come to a close after a pair of close losses to eventual national champ West Chester and Seton Hill. Head Coach Joe Spano has several top hitters returning in 2013 as well as a core of pitchers who could capture the same magic that led conferencemate West Chester win the national title last season.

Zak Blair, Ryan Siegel and Kolin McMillen are all talented hitters capable of putting up big numbers in 2013. Blair hit .369 last season, led the team with 18 stolen bases and was one of the hardest batters to strikeout, only getting K’d eight times in 160 at bats. Siegel paced the club in hitting at .389 while adding 13 stolen bases and McMIllen was second on the team in hitting at .380 with a team high .457 on base percentage. Incoming transfer Joe Pantano hit .376 and 349 in two years at Erie CC and should break into the starting lineup after being the spending the last two seasons as the Kats shortstop.

The return of Ben Rawding to the starter’s role is a big reason why the Lakers could go far this season. Rawding has gone 16-1 the past two seasons, including going 9-0 with a 2.78 ERA last year. The only other returning pitcher with starting experience is Matt Jimenez who looked sharp in 12 appearances (seven starts), going 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA and held opposition to a .229 batting average. Sophomore Dan Altavila put up silly numbers in a relief role, going 5-0 with a 0.91 ERA and only allowed 17 hits in 29.2 innings while striking out 38. Allegany College of Maryland transfer Braedon Pennington could be an impact pitcher for Coach Spano after having mixed success with the Trojans.

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