The Geneva College Baseball team starts the 2017 season on March 6 in Fort Pierce, Florida. After graduating five of their nine starters from the 2016 season, the field will be filled with new faces and talent from the 25-player roster.
Returning junior starters Joey Luciana (Oakmont, PA/St. Joseph), Forrest Beighley (Beaver Falls, PA/Blackhawk), Tyler Pagaduan (Voorhess, NJ/Eastern Regional) will deliver leadership and direction on the field. Hitting powerhouse, Luciana finished the 2016 season with a .376 hitting percentage with 50 hits and a team high of 32 RBIs. Beighley, who enters the season with a .236 hitting percentage with 25 hits, will be taking over the vacant shortstop position. Pagaduan returns to left field after finishing his sophomore campaign hitting .320 with 31 hits.
“We hope that Joey Luciana picks us where he left off last year,” says Head Coach Alan Sumner, who is entering his 29th season at the helm. “He is one of those true power hitters who can drive the ball over the outfield.”
“In the field, Tyler Pagaduan is back in left field, and Joey will play center,” Sumner says.
Losing more than half of their starters to graduation creates a challenge for the team but also creates a lot of potential for players to step up.
Sumner explains, “Right field is a platooning situation with Richie Rowe (Beaver Falls, PA/Blackhawk) and Vinny Howells (Beaver Falls, PA/Riverside).
“In the infield, Dan Staub (Oil City, PA/Oil City) is at third and Forrest Beighley (Beaver Falls, PA/Blackhawk) is at short after switching from third base.
“There is competition at first base with Jericho Hilling (Willamsburg, PA/Hollidaysburg) leading the way. At second base senior Matt Chubb (Absecon, NJ/The Pilgrim Academy) and sophomore Dillon Taggart (Livingston Manor, NY/Livingston Manor Central) are competing for a starting spot.
“Behind the plate, we have two catchers who support each other back there: Mark Overmier (Crofton, MD/Mount St. Joseph), who will start, and freshman Jacob Poremski (Apollo, PA/Kiski Area).”
Sumner explains that the warm weather in the preseason enabled the team to be better prepared than usual which should lead to a faster start in Florida.
Sumner knows what his focus is, “We use Florida as a testing time for our pitchers. We are going to play 10 varsity games and four junior varsity (JV) games in a ten day period, which is a lot of baseball. That puts a lot of demand on the pitchers, so, that really shows us what we have. Everyone is going to get their innings so there shouldn’t be too many theory questions. Once we come back and games are spread out, then we’ll settle into a more steady rotation of pitchers.
“Position wise, the trip gives us a chance to move people around and changeup lineups. Once we get back we’ll have learned our roles.”
Seniors Caleb Metzler (Lititz, PA/Warwick) and Jeff Parker (Green Brook, NJ/Timothy Christian) will both be vying for the starting position on the pitcher’s mound. Metzler finished 2016 with a 3.70 ERA in 15 appearances on the mound. Parker developed a 5.05 ERA in 12 appearances.
“Our hope would be that Jeff Parker and Caleb Metzler will lead our pitchers this year as our returning seniors. Both have had very good off seasons and are prepared,” says Sumner.
Senior righty Adam Trn (Fredericksburg, VA/Chancellor), junior righty Anthony DeMeo (Broadview Heights, OH/Brecksville), junior righty Josh Glover (Springfield, VA/West Springfield), sophomore righty Branden Schlick (Harmony, PA/Seneca Valley) and freshman righty Josh Grant (Allison Park, PA/ Shaler) fill out Geneva’ s bullpen.
Sumner added his love for the fan base, “One of the nice things about our team is that we have a number of guys who live fairly close. That provides a big family fan base. Plus, our guys have cultivated friendships beyond just the baseball team and it is nice to see their friends come up to the field and watch after class. It’s nice to play in front of a crowd, and we appreciate the fans coming out supporting us.”
The Golden Tornadoes season home opener is set for Friday, March 17 in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. against Clarks Summit University on 33rd Street Field.