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Talent Takes Vikings Baseball to Region 19 Final


West Windsor, N.J. -- The Vikings started the season intent on improving on last year's 17-13 record and advancing further in the Region 19 Playoffs than in 2010, when they lost to Burlington County College in the Region 19 semi-final round.

Playing on their home turf May 13 and 14, the Vikings entered the Region 19 Final Four Tournament as the no. 3 seed with a 19-14 record. And, they accomplished at least one of their goals, beating no. 1-ranked Burlington 9-5.

They also beat no. 4-seeded Sussex 6-5, but found a tougher foe in Lackawanna College, ranked no. 2. Mercer lost its opening game against Lackawanna 3-0 and then lost again to Lackawanna in the final by the same score in the double elimination tournament, ending their season with a 21-16 record.

According to Head Coach Matt Wolski, there was a lot of talent and energy on the Vikings roster, but the majority of team was made up of freshmen. "The lack of experience showed in these critical games," he observed.

Wolski says the team's all-too-brief run in the post-season doesn't truly reflect the abilities of this talanted group of athletes. Topping the list was freshman pitcher James Pugliese, who was named to the All-Region 19 First Team, selected as the no. 2 player in the region, and named a Third Team All-American. Pugliese ended the season 6-2. The right-handed pitcher, a graduate of Steinert High School, was noticed by professional scouts and was selected in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball draft in early June to play for the Chicago Cubs next year.

Also singled out for post-season honors was freshman infielder Matt Patterson, an impressive hitter who ended his season with a .458 batting average. Patterson was named to the All-Region 19 First Team and selected as the region's sixth best player. Freshmen outfielder Ian Moyer and sophomore infielder Ryan Brydzinski were named to All-Region Second Team. These three, along with Pugliese, were also named to the All-Garden State Athletic Conference First Team.

Others who made a big impact for the Vikings were freshman infielder Michael Constantini and sophomore infielder Joe Leone.

Wolski is especially proud that his players were a local group. More than half of the team hailed from Mercer County and the rest came from nearby counties, including Burlington and Bucks County, Pa. He notes that this class of freshmen, with a year of college level baseball under their belts, will be ready for a competitive season next year.

Wolski was assisted by Fred Carella and Kevin Kerins

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Celebrating after a good inning at the Region 19 Tournament.
James Pugliese was dominant on the mound.
Matt Patterson powerful at bat and in the outfield.
Michael Constantini on first.