Baseball Opens 2018 Season With Home Doubleheaders This Weekend
MEDIA, Pa. -- The Penn State Brandywine baseball team begins its 2018 season this weekend as the Lions will host non-conference doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at Maple Zone. Brandywine faces SUNY Cobleskill on Saturday and Hood College on Sunday with both twinbills slated to start at noon.
The games will be Brandywine's first four of 22 games against NCAA Division III teams this spring. Brandywine will play a complete non-conference slate against Division III teams for the first time, including eight games in Florida at the RussMatt Invitational during Spring Break.
Head Coach Vinny Gallo's second season in charge sees 14 players returning from last year's squad that won the PSUAC Eastern Division during the regular season, but came up short in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Two of the Lions' returning starters earned postseason awards from the PSUAC in Matt Masi, who will shift to the outfield this season, a first team all-conference and all-American honorable mention selection, and catcher Brian Reynolds, who earned PSUAC Newcomer of the Year. Masi led the team in stolen bases, extra-bases hits and RBI, while Reynolds started 32 games behind the plate, hitting .311 with 20 RBI.
Junior Joey Buoni and sophomore Robert Spitaletta also return as starters in the outfield. Spitaletta, who battled through injury as a freshman, batted .304 and scored 19 runs and Buoni added 22 hits and 13 RBI in 32 games. Utility man Chris Skahill, who can play the outfield, first base and pitch, will also see innings in the outfield, along with power hitting transfer Andre Pendleton.
Brandywine's veteran infield features four players who have combined to play in 213 games at Brandywine. Senior T.J. Wiest can man both corner positions and Will Scott-Norris can play three of the four infield spots, while classmate Tommy Crumlish and sophomore Brett Sheeran are expected to start the season as the duo up the middle for the Lions. Sheeran produced a .328 batting average and .512 on-base percentage as a freshman and Crumlish finished sixth on the team with 23 hits.
On the mound, Brandywine returns three of its top starting pitchers with senior Brad Ulmer, junior Tyler Michaels and sophomore Kevin Sessa back in the fold. Michaels, who led the team in strikeouts with 29, won three games and pitched a team-high 43.0 innings, while Ulmer has made 13 starts over the last two seasons, winning four games and fanning 40 batters. Sessa went 2-2 and struck out 16 in 33.2 innings during six starts and nine total appearances as a freshman. Sophomore Matt Staiber is also expected to move into the starting rotation after making four appearances out of the bullpen in 2017.
Brandywine will play 37 games this spring prior to the conference tournament, which will be played May 6-7 at Penn State DuBois. The Lions open conference action on March 22 at Maple Zone against Penn State Schuylkill. The PSUAC will be made up of eastern and western divisions for the second-straight season with Hazleton, Schuylkill, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and York joining Brandywine in the six-team eastern division.