The National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association does not lie, as they have the West Chester Golden Rams ranked as the number one team in the Northeast Region and the hands down favorite in the Eastern Division. However, there are more reasons to believe this team will be successful this year other than preseason hype from a group of writers. Greg Mamula led the team to a 33-17 record in his first season as head coach. This team has the experience, they have the talent, and they have the confidence to make it to the collegiate playoffs, after suffering a heart-breaking end of last season, missing the playoffs by just two games.
Of course the loss of star pitcher Frank Gailey to the Toronto Blue Jays will leave a giant set of cleats to fill, but the Rams have plenty of experienced pitchers to stack one of the best starting rotations in the PSAC.
Four returning star quality pitchers for the Rams are looking to continue on solid seasons last year, as all four finished with winning records. James Rundatz will look to improve on his 5-0 record from last year and shine in his senior year. Rundatz looked to be in great form during summer league, helping the Kutztown Rockies win the ACBL championship. Rundatz struck out 24 batters in 19 2/3 innings pitched with an ERA under 2.00.
Also looking for a dominant season on the mound is another Golden Ram senior, Chris Powl, who finished 4-1 last season in twelve appearances.
Also on the mound will be juniors Jason Bowman and David Slusser. Bowman had the most appearances for the Rams last year. He pitched in 21 games and threw 37 1/3 innings. More impressive than Bowman’s team leading 21 appearances and 22 strikeouts was his ability to stay strong through an entire season with a low 2.89 ERA and four saves.
The old adage is that pitching wins championships in baseball and the Golden Rams have enough talent on this team with plenty of collegiate experience to make a run at the championship this year.
However, pitching is nothing unless there is enough offense to win games for the pitchers. The Rams are returning eight position players from 2007 this season. Outfielder Drew Pare returns for his senior season, following a junior year in which he led the team in most batting statistics, including a .397 batting average, 50 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts.
Pare is one of two returning first team all-PSAC players, joined by 2007’s Rookie of the Year Nick Spisak. Spisak started all 50 games last season at shortstop with a .348 batting average and a .952 fielding percentage.
The season starts Feb. 22 when the Golden Rams head to Myrtle Beach for a four games in sunny South Carolina. The first time fans will get to see the team at home will be March 1, when the Golden Rams play host to Umass-Lowell. A long, arduous season will come to an exciting conclusion when the Rams play archrivals the Kutztown Bears in their final four games of the season starting April 25.
Ken Schmidt is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at KS609536@wcupa.edu.