Buffalo, NY - A young, talented, and optimistic D'Youville baseball program is ready to get to action and prove themselves in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) in 2020.
Head coach Kyle McLain enters his second year leading the Spartans and has brought in eight freshmen to compete for starting roles as well as create depth on the team. He, along with second year assistant coach Kris Kruszka, second year graduate assistant and former all-conference infielder Travis Macrides, and first year assistant coach Dan Luppens bring stability to the coaching staff and a great deal of playing experience to pass along to the squad.
The Spartans suffered a tough season in 2019, finishing the season with a 2-27 overall record and a 2-16 conference record. A roster of 17 faced several injuries but battled throughout the season.
For the coming 2020 season, D'Youville was voted to finish in 11th place in the AMCC Preseason Poll. The preseason poll ranks the teams in the conference and their expected finish as voted on by the opposing coaches in the conference.
D'Youville has several key veterans that will be counted on to lead a young team. Junior shortstop Justin Varney (Henrietta, NY/Rush-Henrietta) is one of the top returning hitters for the men, ranking second in at-bats (92), third in batting average (.261), RBIs (9), runs (14), hits (24), fourth in doubles (4), and fifth in stolen bases (2). He will again be at the top of the order for the Spartans and be expected to produce.
Junior Renato Quinones (Lockport, NY/St. Joe's) had a career year in 2019 while playing all over the diamond. He is another player that will be counted on to produce with his experience. Additionally, Kevin Sanders (Buffalo, NY/City Honors) had a career year as a sophomore last season, finishing the season with 14 hits.
On the mound, senior Adam Lampman (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West) is the leader of the team. Lampman led the team in innings pitched (45.1) and was second in strikeouts (24) last season. His dedication in the offseason has set the tone for the entire team as he will be at the top of the rotation this year.
Junior Nick Jank (Orchard Park, NY/Canisius) had a breakout season in 2019, pitching in 16 games with 31.0 innings pitched. He tallied 11 hits, eight RBI, four doubles, three runs, and a triple. He will be counted on at first and to pitch throughout the season.
Senior infielder Matt Guenther (Cheektowaga, NY/Maryvale) will look to lock down the job at second base after playing significant time last season. Junior infielder Logan Lipowski (Williamsville, NY/Williamsville East) will also look to carve out a role for himself as he becomes a veteran on the team.
Sophomores Alex Liem (Dorchester, Ont./Dorchester Secondary) and Shane Critelli (Camden, NY/Camden) played extensively as freshmen, contributing a great deal. Liem played behind the plate, in the outfield, and in the infield and was a big bat in the middle of the lineup. Critelli played a great deal at first base and was another power bat in the lineup.
Senior pitcher Bryce Little (Arcade, NY/Pioneer) was one of the team's top pitchers last season and will be asked to resume that role again this season. Sophomore pitcher Derek Mosher (Henrietta, NY/Rush-Henrietta) pitched 24.2 innings as a freshman with 11 strikeouts and will be asked to carry a heavier load this year. Meanwhile, sophomore transfer Justin Balseca (Marshfield, VT/Twinfield Union) comes to the team and will look to create a spot for himself in the lineup.
Senior Brendan Burke (Collegeville, PA/Spring-Ford) suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, but his presence will still be important to the team. He has been a strong contributor throughout his career and was poised for a career season in the field, at the plate, and on the mound.
The freshmen class that the coaching staff has brought in has helped change the culture and set the tone for the program moving forward. With eight freshmen, the team continues to grow their talent and depth.
Catcher Jeremy Glinski (Sloan, NY/Bishop-Timon St. Jude) headlines a promising class with his size, power, speed, and athletic ability. Fellow catcher/infielder Mateo Santos (Jamesville, NY/Jamesville-Dewitt) is another key piece to the future of the team's success as is infielder Zach Cocking (Batavia, NY/Notre Dame).
Third baseman/pitcher Jared Glowniak (Dunkirk, NY/Dunkirk) and pitcher/infielder Roberto Pagliero (Vaughan, Ont./Bill Crothers) are two-way players that can bring a great deal to the team on the field and on the mound. Kyle Nash (Ancaster, Ont./Ancaster) is another talented pitcher that will be big for the team on the mound.
Outfielders Josh Battaglia (Rochester, NY/Hilton) and Phil Lange (Lockport, NY/Lockport) offer a great deal of potential and will help bring depth in the outfield. Both will compete for playing time and help push their teammates.
Coach McLain offered insight to each of the team's freshmen in the 2020 freshman class baseball notes.
D'Youville begins their season in Florida as they play against Westminster on Sunday, March 8 as they spend time in the greater Orlando area for a week, playing seven games total. The men will then return home to play at Pitt.-Greensburg on Saturday, March 21 to open conference play. They will then host Medaille on Tuesday, March 24 in their home opening doubleheader.
Coach McLain answered several questions on the upcoming season, giving his insight on several areas of the team's upcoming season with expectations and a unique perspective of his team.
Q: What are your expectations for your team this season?
CM: "We have high expectations for our team this year and fully expect to compete for an AMCC playoff spot."
Q: What are the strengths of your team?
CM: "I think the strength of our team this year is something that was our Achilles heel last season and that's our depth. Last season there were times where we just had to try and field a starting line-up of nine healthy guys, while this year we have so much more depth. It gives Kris and I a lot of flexibility when filling out our line-up card entering this season. We have a lot of Freshman that came in trying to win spots right away and that's pushed our returners to get better each day which has created healthy competition for us. "
Q: What do you expect to learn from your trips to Florida?
CM: "Our spring training trip down to Florida is important in a lot of ways for us - it's our first time on a baseball field and first time facing some competition other than ourselves, but most importantly we want our guys to continue the process of learning how to win. Last year when we found ourselves in close games I think we started to tighten up as a group and weren't comfortable in these type situations. We expect to be much more competitive this year and hopefully the Florida trip will get us prepared to win some games during AMCC play."
Q: What makes this team different from other teams you have coached?
CM: "This has easily been the most mature team I've been around as a coach. They've done everything the right way in the off-season whether that was working hard in the class room, getting in the weight room or getting extra reps after practice which has us excited. A lot of our players are self-motivated and have that drive to be great which makes life a whole lot easier as a coach"
Q: What will be the biggest factor in the success of your team this season?
CM: "Our defense is going to be the number one factor for our team in terms of wins and losses. Our consistency last year just wasn't good enough and that's been the top priority of Kris and I leading up to this spring. The teams that consistently make it to the post-season all have the ability to win games with their defense, which is how we want to build our program."