2012 Neumann Baseball Preview
ASTON, Pa. – The Neumann University baseball team will start the 2012 season in prime form as they return all but one starter. They also carry one of the finest pitching staffs in the country as the Knights led Division III in strikeouts per nine innings last year.
Neumann finished last season with a record of 28-13 overall and 11-7 in conference play. The Knights also hosted the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South, as the No. 1 seed. The Knights have reached the Colonial State Athletic Conference (CSAC) playoffs in the past three seasons, including a trip to the conference finals in 2010.
In 2011, Neumann's pitching staff ranked first in Division III in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.0, striking out 337 batters in 336.3 innings.
Top returners on the mound for the Knights are Russ Gilliam, Matthew Smith and Erik Klimoff. During the 2011 season, Gilliam (First Team All-Conference) went 9-2 with an earned run average (ERA) of 1.94 and led the team with 84 strikeouts in 69.2 inning pitched. Smith (Honorable Mention) went 4-3 with 59 strikeouts in 61.2 innings while reliever Klimoff (First Team All-Conference) collected six saves.
From the plate, Bill Pace (First Team All-Conference) led the team in scoring last season with 49 runs, six home runs and 43 runs batted in (RBI). Matt Grossi (Second Team All-Conference) was second on the team with 49 hits, 31 RBI and a .366 batting average. Derrek Etsell (Second Team All-Conference) had 35 runs, six homeruns and 39 RBI.
The Knights will be swinging for their first CSAC championship in 2012, after being just two wins shy of making it in 2011. This season, the team will strive to have their first 30-win season and a trip to the Division III regional tournament.
John Fleming steps into his fourth season as head coach. Thanks to his experience and guided leadership, the Knights are now one of the top programs in the CSAC and the region. Fleming has produced three consecutive 20-plus win seasons, a school record.
“Neumann baseball has never been in a better position than we are now, moving forward with a new field set to open in 2013,” said Fleming. “This will also be a challenging year in regard to the amount of travel time we'll have,” added Fleming.
When asked about their season ahead, Fleming stated “I feel that we are ready to take the program to the next level and compete with the top programs in the region. Offensively, we have retooled and now have tremendous depth, which is something we did not have over the past three years.
The Knights will open their season February 17 and 18 when they take on Rutgers-Newark, St. Joseph's-Brooklyn and Ramapo at the North East Challenge Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
First Live Radio Broadcast is This Saturday Feb 25th at Washington College on Herb FM Sports Radio