Immediate Release: February 16, 2004
Contact: John Hartrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
should give baseball team boost in 2004
coach Tim Sinicki has brought in a dozen new faces - including
several impact recruits - who will be counted on to reverse the
fortunes of a 10-40-1 season last spring and push Binghamton
closer to a post-season conference berth.
Weve been looking forward to 2004 ever since the
final out was made in 2003. The players and coaching staff are
excited about the core of players we return, as well as the influx
of talented newcomers. Together were hoping to improve
on last seasons performance and challenge for a spot in
the conference tournament.
Sinicki addressed the teams biggest need with five additions
to the pitching staff. His 2003 unit allowed an average of nearly
seven and a half runs per contest, and the 12th-year skipper
knows that figure must go down for the team to be competitive
in the America East Conference.
I knew we were a little short in the pitching area heading
into last season. The bottom line was that we needed to get better
... and I think we did - a lot better.
Senior transfer Andy Hutchings, a record-setting closer
for the College of Charleston early in his career, returns home
for this final collegiate season, and will instantly move into
the weekend starting rotation. Drafted in the 27th round by Houston
in 2000, Hutchings held down a 2.91 earned run average for the
Cougars last spring, and will bring a package of pitching skills
and leadership to a young staff. He was a pre-season All-American
for the Cougars in 2002, and was tabbed as the 15th most significant
transfer by Baseball America this season. The publication also
listed Hutchings as the top newcomer to the America East.
Andy hasnt pitched an inning for us yet, but has
made an immediate impact. His work ethic, commitment to success,
and willingness to spend time with the other pitchers has been
tremendous. However, my expectations for Andy on the mound are
the same as they are for every other pitcher - to put the team
in a position to win the game.
Six-foot-3 junior college transfer David Lind is another
impact recruit on the mound, and should join Hutchings near the
top of Sinickis rotation. A first-team all-conference performer
at Skyline College, Lind throws in the mid-upper 80s, and has
great command of his pitches.
Simply stated, Davids a pitcher. Location, change
of speeds and movement are Davids greatest strengths.
However, he does have the ability to get his fastball past hitters
if he needs to.
Senior J.D. Brink is the teams returning No. 1 starter,
and will continue to be a reliable and durable conference starter
in 2004. Brink, who can run his fastball to 90 mph or better,
logged a team-high 63.2 innings last spring and led the team
in wins. He also registered five complete games in 11 starts
- and went at least five innings in each of his last eight starts.
J.D. is ready for a big senior season. Hes is coming
off a solid year in the highly-regarded Coastal Plains Summer
Collegiate League, and has worked really hard to lock-in on his
mechanics. He is committed to proving hes a #1 type starter
in our conference.
The staffs lone lefty is junior Mike Weglinski,
who led the staff in strikeouts a year ago, and impresses Sinicki
with his work ethic and competitiveness. He has four wins and
three saves in his first two collegiate seasons, and should continue
to play a pivotal role in the rotation.
Other pitching options include junior Chris Darling and
Tom Gaube, sophomores Adam Shatkun and Chris
Shores, and freshmen Zach Groh, Mike Van Gorder and
Darling, who led the staff with a 4.05 ERA in eight appearances
last spring, will see time at both catcher and pitcher. Shatkun
returns after a year off while recovering from Tommy John surgery,
while the 6-foot-3 Shores showed promise in his first collegiate
campaign once he recovered from a severe case of tendonitis.
Its as deep and talented a pitching staff as Ive
had here at Binghamton since weve moved to Division I status.
The depth gives us a lot of options, and the talent gives us
a chance to become one of the better staffs in the conference.
of Boyer will bolster offense
only does Sinicki return his top three hitters from 2003, but
he also welcomes back junior first baseman Jamie Boyer
- one of the best hitters in program history who missed the entire
2003 season with a wrist injury. Without Boyer in the heart of
BUs lineup last spring, the Bearcats managed just over
four runs per game.
Jamies return is not only important because of his
physical skills, but emotionally its great to have the
team see one of their captains return from an injury.
In 2002, Boyer earned all-conference honors after leading the
team in five offensive categories, including average and home
runs. His left-handed bat should anchor BUs offense from
the middle of the order. Boyer is also is a solid defensive
Across the diamond, senior third baseman Jay Balback returns
for his second season in a Bearcats uniform. The power-hitting
junior college product led the team and entire America East with
13 home runs, and ranked second in the conference in runs (45)
and third in total bases (101). Sinicki expects more of the same
Jay has legitimate home run power to all fields. Hes
one of the best - maybe the best power hitter in the conference.
For the second year in a row, Sinicki has been hit hard by a
pre-season injury to a starting infielder. One year after Boyer
was lost to injury, sure-fielding sophomore Justin Smucker
has suffered a torn labrum and is likely lost for the season.
Smucker started 50 games as a freshman, and committed just
12 errors in 180 chances (.933).
In Smuckers absence, the second base job will be up for
grabs among veteran infielders Matt Caputo and Brian
Lindsay, and newcomer Matt Simek.
Caputo and Lindsay made 38 combined starts in 2003. Caputo, a
senior, earned 28 starts at second, while Lindsay, a junior,
earned 10 starts, primarily at shortstop. Simek is a hard-nosed
freshman who will push for playing time at both second and designated
Junior college transfer Keith Ford will step in to the
starting shortstop position. Ford has great range up the middle,
and put up impressive offensive numbers from the third spot last
spring, including swiping 31-of-33 bases. His experience at
Coffeyville - which competes in the highly-regarded Kansas Jayhawk
Conference, should allow for an easy transition to the Division
duo lead talented outfield
vastly talented outfield unit should provide BU with an offensive
boost and at the same time, offer Sinicki one of his most reliable
defensive groups in recent years. Highlighting the six-man group
is 6-foot-4 senior all-conference player T.J. Kowalchuk,
who drove in a team-best 41 runs last year en route to first
team America East honors. Kowalchuk has raised his offensive
production in each collegiate season, and is poised to conclude
his career in fine fashion. Sinicki will move him over from center
to right field in 2004, and expects his veteran to continue to
drive in runs from the middle of the lineup.
T.J. is a four-year starter who has improved each and every
year. His work ethic and desire to succeed should have him ready
to finish his collegiate career with an outstanding senior season.
Another senior outfielder with pop at the plate - Joe Costello,
will start the season in left field. Costello earned second team
all-conference honors last season after hitting .313 with 21
extra-base hits and 35 RBI.
Joe is the strongest young man Ive ever had in the
program. He has the ability to drive the ball to all fields with
legitimate home run power. The ball really jumps off his bat.
Junior college transfer Whitney Powell is slated to start
in center field, where his exceptional speed and defensive ability
have Sinicki already tabbing him as the best defensive outfielder
hes ever had in the program. Powell, a .342 hitter and
all-star at Dundalk Community College last spring, should also
create some havoc on the base paths.
But among a talented core of newcomers, Sinickis most prized
recruit may wind up being left-handed slugger Brendon Hitchcock,
who should immediately jump into the starting lineup at designated
hitter. Hitchcock, who can play left field and first base, won
his leagues batting title all four years in high school,
and has advanced skills for a college freshman.
Brendon is a pure hitter. He has a tremendous understanding
of how to hit to all fields. His approach at the plate is way
beyond what I expect from a freshman. Brendons a young
man who should be penciled in to the middle of the lineup this
spring and not move for four years.
Freshmen Junior Mejia and Jeff Monaco round out
this talented group. Mejia is a speedster who is being groomed
for the center field-leadoff role, and Monaco is a gifted local
athlete with outstanding power potential.
heads talented trio of catchers
Chris Darling, who saw time as both a catcher and pitcher
last year, has the inside track on the starting role behind the
plate in 2004. He started 23 games last spring, and was adept
at handling the pitching staff as well as swinging the bat. He
is joined by second-year player John Hark and freshman
Pat Haughie. Hark made 16 starts as a freshman, while
Haughie is a durable 6-footer with outstanding defensive skill.
The trio gives Sinicki more depth and provides more options than
hes ever had behind the plate.
schedule begins in Virginia
52-game slate begins with a four-game series at Liberty University
in Lynchburg, Va., February 27-29, and features a season-opening
22 road games before the Bearcats host New York state rival Cornell
University on April 6. Soon thereafter, BU opens its 21-game
America East segment - three-game series against the other
seven league members.
Highlights of the non-conference slate include three games against
NCAA Regional participant Le Moyne College - which BU split with
last season, three games against perennial Atlantic 10 East contender
St. Bonaventure, four games at Lehigh University - which advanced
to the Patriot League Tournament last spring, and three games
at Virginia Military Institute - which posted a program-best
16 wins last season in Southern Conference league play.
gap in conference standings a priority
Bearcats are all but assured of improving upon last springs
2-20 league record, but how quickly the team closes the gap will
depend on the impact of Sinickis newcomers and the level
of improvement to the pitching staff. With top conference team
Maine, Northeastern Vermont and Stony Brook each stocked again,
BUs goal of earning a top-four position and post-season
berth may be a challenging one. But the 2004 Bearcats will most
certainly field a team better equipped to face that challenge.
Being on the road for 32 of our first 34 games will certainly
be a challenge. But I really feel good about the talent, makeup
and chemistry of this team. I think they are ready for any challenge
that presents itself this spring.