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Vikings Baseball Team Has Tough Ending to Great Season


West Windsor, N.J. – First, let’s get the nasty business of the Region 19 Tournament out of the way.  The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) baseball team entered the tournament as the no. 1 seed and had high expectations for another Region 19 title and a return trip to the NJCAA World Series.

Winning their opener 5-0 against Morris County College, the Vikings looked strong on both offense and defense.  Sophomore Nick Economos (7-0, 4.10 ERA) got the win on the mound. 

Day two was a different story. The Vikings next faced no. 2-seeded Lackawanna and held onto a 5-4 lead headed into the seventh inning, before the Falcons scored eight runs and closed out the game with the 12-5 win. Sophomore pitcher Matt Gall struck out six in five innings.

The next game in the double elimination tournament was once again against Morris, the same team Mercer had beaten handily the day before, as well as twice during the regular season. With freshman Christian Waters on the mound, the Vikings were trailing 2-1 in the fifth and ultimately lost 6-3.

“The bottom line is we did not play well enough to win the region,” said fourth year Head Coach Kevin Kerins.  “There were minor things in each game.  However, in the semifinal game we gave up one big inning and lost the lead, and our team, though a veteran group, never recovered.”

Kerins says the whole team took the ending hard. “These guys played so well together all season.  It’s the kind of abrupt finish that takes a long time to get over.”

Despite the unhappy conclusion, Kerins still believes this Vikings squad had the stuff of champions. The team completed the season 38-12 and was ranked as high as no. 9 in a NJCAA Division II baseball poll in the final days of the regular season.

“We had tremendous pitching and once healthy we really started to swing it,” Kerins said. “I am very proud of this group.”

The roster was filled with focused and physically fit players. The pitching staff was solid and deep, led by Economos, Gall (5-3, 2.81 ERA), Zach Gakeler (4-1, 2.57 ERA), Waters (5-2, 2.12) and Brandon Garret (6-1, 3.40). The offensive numbers were impressive as well, with sophomore outfielder Joe Santospago hitting a team high of .371 and 15 players who hit over .300. Returning NJCAA All-American sophomore catcher David Osnato had another banner year, hitting .342 with 35 RBIs. Freshman catcher Rob Boselli made major gains in the course of the season.

Baseball players honored at the Athletes Appreciation Breakfast included, from left, Brandon Abdul, Geggie Russomagno, Mark Scarpa, Matt Gall, Brandon Kirk, Joe Santospago and Mike Pfieffer.
Second-year player Michael Pfeiffer received the Dr. Cynthia Shaffer Memorial Scholarship, presented to a graduating athlete for athletic and academic excellence. Pfeiffer will transfer to Rider University in the fall to study economics. He is pictured with President Patricia C. Donohue and Athletics Director John Simone.
Multiple award winner Robert Boselli will return to the lineup next year. He is pictured with MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue, left, and Athletics Director John Simone.

Kerins will especially miss his sophomores.  “This sophomore class was 78-20 overall.  I watched them grow as players and as students,” he said.

The Vikings were well represented among the All-GSAC Division II picks for the season. David Osnato was named the GSAC Player of the Year. Osnato and six other players were named to the All-GSAC First Team: Economos, Gall, Santospago, infielders Angel Garced and Brandon Kirk, and DH Boselli. Outfielder Nick Kagel was named to the Second Team.

Selections to the All-Region 19 Division II First Team were: Garced, Santospago, Economos, Osnato and Boselli. Kirk, Kagel and Gall were named to the All-Region Second Team.  Kerins was named the Region 19 Coach of the Year and the GSAC Coach of the Year.

Thirteen MCCC players were named to the All-Region 19 Academic Team and 17 were named to the All-Garden State Athletic Association (GSAC) Academic Team. Fifteen sophomores will transfer to four-year institutions to continue their academic careers; most will be playing baseball for their transfer schools.

As for next year, Kerins’ goal has not changed.  “We hope to get back to the D2 NJCAA World Series. That is our goal every year.  The coaching staff has done a tremendous job of recruiting year-round.  We have another talented group coming in that features players from all over the tri-state region.

Several freshmen will be returning as veterans, including Boselli, Gakeler, Austin Lindsay, Mark Scarpa, Evan Gillespie and Austin Constantini.  “We anticipate that next year’s squad will follow in the footsteps of other recent teams – lots of speed, athleticism and passion for the game.  Our coaches are excited about opportunity to work with them,” Kerins said. 

Kerins was assisted this season by Fred Carella, Shawn Reindel, Russ Stupienski, Matt Zegari.

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