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2017 Pace Baseball Season Preview

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Photo from paceuathletics.com.

Photo from paceuathletics.com.

Photo from paceuathletics.com.

TJ Combs, Featured Writer

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The Pace Setters baseball team has big expectations to thrive this season with a more united team and key roster additions, but have a hole left by experienced pitching.

Baseball finished 30-22 overall (12-12 NE-10) in 2016, which was their best season since 2013 where they went 33-17 and clinched a Northeast-10 Conference (NE-10) playoff spot for the fourth time in the last five years.

The College of St. Rose Golden Knights eliminated Pace in the playoffs, however, which has left the team with a chip on their shoulders going into this year.

They plan to stop no shorter than the World Series in Texas come June.

“It’s our season to lose,” said pitcher Anthony Criscione, who was 1-1 with a 4.74 earned run average (ERA) in 2016. “Everyone is on the same page every single day. I’ve never met 33 guys who are so close, no one is outside of the bubble.”

The big question this season seems to be pitching, however. The loss of strong upperclassmen pitchers from last season such as Dylan Mouzakes, Josh Garran, and Tim Deegan, who combined for 17-8, the team is coming in with a few unproven arms.

“We’re not going to deteriorate,” said pitcher Anthony Rocco, “Over the course of a season your body starts getting tired, but I feel like now that we have a very good strength and conditioning program that’s not going to happen. I think we’ll be more in shape over the course of the season and keep on producing the way we need to.”

With a formidable batting lineup hoping to continue their hot streak that took them into the postseason last year, there is an expectation on the team for nothing less than being able to perform on a daily basis.

The handful of rookies and new additions present an imposing energy that can be the asset that puts the team over the top this season, considering the team leadership provides the means to stop those new season nerves.

“I get pregame jitters,” said outfielder John Kukura, who had the team’s best batting average (.336) last season. “I know it’s time to go its time to get ready, but as soon as the National Anthem is over and the first pitch is out, we’re all focused all those jitters go away.”

The team is hoping to stop some of the big plays that slowed them down toward the end of last season. With a stronger and faster defense, they’re looking to become a force within their division.

“[We’re] hungry,” Rocco said. “Hungry to win the championship we were snubbed out of Regionals and that was coming off beating the number one team in the nation a few games before. So we’re definitely hungry.”

Baseball will host the first two games of the 2017 season on Wed., Mar. 1 and 2 against the Bloomfield College Bears at Peter X. Finnerty Field.

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