Windsor, N.J. -- Finishing the season ranked 18th nationally
with a 29-15 record, the Vikings baseball team continued its
winning ways in 2012. The Vikings advanced all the way to
the Region 19 championship game before a tough loss against
a very talented Lackawanna College team. Led by interim Head
Coach Kevin Kerins, who assumed the post in January, there
was barely a ripple as the Vikings adjusted to new leadership
just two months before the start of the season.
According to Kerins, the Vikings' success was due to skill,
a solid work ethic, and great team chemistry. Standouts included
sophomores Mike Constantini at shortstop, the team's hitting
leader with a .380 average, 60 hits and 42 runs scored, third
baseman Rick McLaughlin and outfielder Ian Moyer. Other key
players were outfielder Dan Denton and the formidable pitching
staff of sophomore Chris Rupprecht (5-3) and freshmen Paul
Piromalli (6-2), Dylan Murphy (5-2) and Matt Berbon-Owle (6-1).
Walter Cleary was a clutch reliever with a 3-2 record.
Kerins says he easily picked up where Coach Matt Wolski, who
earned a 133-98-1 won-loss record over six years, left off.
Kerins and Assistant Coach Fred Carella added a few skills
to practice sessions, but basically kept Wolski's well-tested
approaches intact. Former pitcher Shawn Reindel also joined
Entering the double elimination Region 19 tournament as the
no. 2 seed with a 27-12 overall record and 10-4 record in
the region, Mercer knew that no. 1 Lackawanna (41-10, 14-0)
was the team to beat. In their first game, the Vikings first
faced no. 3 Burlington, against whom they had split a doubleheader
in April. The result was a 4-3 win for Mercer, which was followed
by a 4-1 loss against Lackawanna. The next morning, the Vikings
beat Burlington even more decisively by a score of 7-1, forcing
yet another match-up against Lackawanna and a heartbreaking
and McLaughlin were named to the All Region 19 First Team
and outfielder Ian Moyer was named to the second team. Constantini
was named no. 3 on the list of Top 10 Players in Region 19.
In the All Garden State Athletic Conference, Constantini,
Moyer and outfielder Dan Denton were named to the First Team.
As he completes his first season, Kerins is clearly satisfied
with his experience at the helm. "We were fortunate to
have a great group of sophomores. We let them lead and let
our freshman develop. You have to grow up quick at the college
level. They did a great job."
is also excited about next year's roster, which will feature
sophomores Piromali, Denton, Cleary, Berbon-Owle, Steve Spadifino,
Darren Heisse and Mike Ras, and an incoming class that should
add depth to the line-up. In addition to the talent Kerins
has found in Mercer County, several players are expected to
join the squad from Hunterdon and Middlesex counties and Pennsylvania.
"The incoming class features numerous strong pitchers
who will complement the returning arms and experience we have
on the mound. Pitching will be the strength and core of our
team next year," Kerins predicts. He adds that the roster
will boast two high school All-Americans -- Dan Denton, who
just completed his freshman season for the Vikings, and freshman
outfielder Mark Tomei.
Nine players have announced their transfer plans. To see where
they are heading, click here.
In baseball alumni news, Vikings pitcher James Pugliese, who
was drafted by the Cubs last June, had a strong season in
the minor leagues.