Baseball Set For Opening Pitch

The Alfred State College baseball team opens up their 2008 season this week as they head south for their annual trip to Cocoa Expo in Cocoa, FL.  The Pioneers were 10-6 during the Fall season and were 48-16 during the 2006-07 school year.

Head Coach Tom Kenney (541-240-1, 14th season) will count on the leadership of Kevin Underhill (Somers) and Jeff Benchich (Millbrook), as the team will look to make a run towards the programs sixth Region III Championship.

Underhill will play mostly 1B but has the ability to play 3B and in the outfield for the Pioneers.  He was a 1st team All-WNYAC selection this Fall after hitting .396 with 12 RBI.  Underhill started in all 47 games last Spring and hit .359 with 37 RBI. 

Benchich will be counted on to anchor the pitching staff.  He was 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA this Fall in 20.1 innings of work to earn 2nd team All-WNYAC honors.  Last Spring he tossed 52.2 innings and was 5-2 with a 2.56 ERA.  

Bruno Saraceno (Binghamton), Jeff Miller (N. Tonawanda), Craig Kosnikowski (N. Tonawanda), Jeff Paul (Horseheads), Chris Fox (Mahopac), and David Mayo (Caguas, Puerto Rico) also return from last Spring's team. 

Saraceno, a right-handed hitting LF, hit .304 with 13 RBI and eight stolen bases last Spring and hit 250 this Fall.  Miller, a catcher who has been slowed down during the pre-season with an injury, hit .286 last Spring with 12 RBI and hit .259 this past Fall.  Kosnikowski was 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA last Spring on the mound and hit .241 with nine RBI.  This past fall he was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 13 innings of work.  Paul, who will see time in the OF and as team's DH, hit .307 with 13 RBI last Spring and hit .343 with 8 RBI this Fall.  Fox tossed 36 innings last Spring and was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA.  He held opponents to a .241 batting average and allowed just five walks all season.  Mayo has appeared in 29 games in the middle infield in his career and has collected six hits.

Fall transfers Adalberto Vargas (Norman Thomas), Kelvin Espinosa (George Washington), and Ruben Angeles (George Washington) along with winter term transfers Yordis Veras (Newtown), and Andy Grayson (Mechanicville) will be counted on to play big roles for the Blue and Gold.

Vargas hit .319 with two home runs and 11 RBI this Fall and will primarily play 3B.  Espinosa will handle most of the catching duties after hitting .320 with 4 RBI.  Angeles will man RF and will look to bounce back from a rough fall at the plate.  He will also see time on the mound.  Veras will play mostly at SS and bat at the top of the line-up while Grayson will give the coaching staff a left handed option in the pitching rotation.

Freshmen Derek Speaker (Starpoint), Bryan Lance (Chenango Forks), Donny Smith (Brighton), Karl Kofmel (Ottawa, ONT.), and Kyle Morrison (Canaseraga) will see time in the infield.

Speaker, who will play 2B, SS, in the OF, and see some time on the mound, hit 321 this Fall with 11 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Lance will play both middle infield positions after hitting .250 with two stolen bases.  Smith will add depth to the middle infield positions, Kofmel hit .308 with 4 RBI and will play 1B and DH, and Morrison joined the team this winter and will battle for time behind the plate, at 1B, and at DH.

Freshman Kenny O'Brien (Norwalk, CT) is expected to be a key contributor in the outfield.  He started in all 16 games in CF this Fall and hit .340 with 10 RBI and four stolen bases. Corey McEnroe (Millbrook) and Matt Lannon (Newark) will also be in the mix to join the Pioneer outfield.

Joel Green (Horseheads) returns from an arm injury to add depth to the pitching staff while Andrew Foster (Clarkson, ONT.), a 6-4 right hander, will push to be in the Pioneers rotation.

The Pioneers schedule opens up with a 13-game southern trip at Cocoa Expo.  The team returns to New York and plays 13-scheduled non-league doubleheaders.  The team will travel to throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Ohio. 

The Blue and Gold will also battle for the Region III Division II championship with four game series versus Mercyhurst North East and Monroe CC.  The Region III Division II Tournament will be held at Mercyhurst in the first weekend of May with the winner advancing for a chance to qualify for the NJCAA Division II World Series.

The baseball program at Alfred State has won more than 40 games in ten of the past eleven school years and is averaging 44 wins per season during that time span.