Baseball 2014 Season Review

 

 

John Scuderi
Scuderi finished his career tied for seventh in team history with 107 runs scored and as the program’s all-time leader with 403 assists. He also ranked in the top 20 in hits (143), doubles (28), extra-base hits (40), total bases (200) and RBI (78).
With a little bit of help and a lot of late magic, the Muhlenberg baseball team finally got over the hump in 2014.

The Mules pulled out an 11th-inning walkoff in their season finale to keep their playoff hopes alive, then spent the last day of the regular season needing one of two teams to lose to extend the campaign. Muhlenberg’s prayers were answered, and for the first time in six years, it got to watch the postseason from the dugout.

The Mules didn’t stop there, cruising on the road against eventual Centennial Conference champion Haverford for their first playoff win since 2003 before dropping a pair of tight contests and falling one step short of the championship round.

Muhlenberg, which finished with a record of 17-20-1, proved to be well ahead of schedule in its drive to return to relevance after a last-place finish just two years ago. The Mules made a four-game leap in the standings a year ago, a hint of the promise to come, and made good on their potential in 2014, going above the break-even mark at 9-8-1 for a third-place CC finish after being picked seventh in the preseason poll.

The CC finale brought a taste of playoff atmosphere back to Allentown. The Mules needed a win in the nightcap of a doubleheader with Johns Hopkins just to have a chance to make the postseason. Twice their fate appeared to be sealed, and twice they refused to let it happen.

With Muhlenberg trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth, freshman John Icaza hit a two-run homer to keep hope alive. Behind by two once more in the 11th, Muhlenberg responded with three runs, the last on a walkoff bases-loaded single by junior Kurt Johnson.

It was the third time the Mules picked up a CC win in their final at-bat, after previously winning in dramatic fashion against McDaniel and Franklin & Marshall. And when McDaniel lost at Gettysburg a day later, Muhlenberg was in the playoffs.

Leading the charge was a trio of breakout stars – two at the end of their career and another at the start.

Tyler Latrenta
Senior Tyler Latrenta, a team co-captain, scored 10 runs and stole six bases in 22 games.
Senior John Scuderi struggled through an injury-plagued junior campaign, but came back good as new for a remarkable final season. The third baseman led the team in batting average (.358), hits (49), doubles (13), home runs (3), extra-base hits (17), RBI (30), slugging percentage (.533) and on-base percentage (.428) – all career highs – en route to All-CC second-team honors and a third-team nod on the All-Mid-Atlantic Region team. He was at his best when it mattered most, hitting .371 with 18 RBI in league play.

Fellow senior Max Litvak also saved his best year for last, finishing second on the team with a .322 average, 12 doubles and 24 RBI. An Academic All-District selection, the designated hitter averaged an extra-base hit every six at-bats and was honored as a second-team all-conference choice.

Icaza was stellar in his rookie campaign, hitting .322 with three homers and 21 RBI en route to being selected CC rookie of the year. A second-team All-CC honoree, the left fielder became the first Mule freshman to earn all-conference honors since 2006, and the first to make the second team since 1997. Icaza, who had a team-high .382 average with 16 RBI in CC games, also stole eight bases and went 13-for-22 over the final five games of the regular season.

Juniors Nick Plinio, Jimmy Cody and Johnson also made plenty of important contributions. Cody was one of four Mules to have double-digit doubles (12), and he led the team with 29 runs and 10 stolen bases, adding a home run and 22 RBI. Plinio produced 12 extra-base hits, including a triple, and hit .294 with a .407 on-base percentage. The outfielder was 7-for-10 with three doubles in the postseason.

Max Litvak
A career .325 hitter, Litvak was the only player in the CC with 13 extra-base hits in fewer than 100 at-bats. He hit a walkoff pinch-hit single in the 10th against York during the Mules' spring trip to Myrtle Beach.
Johnson, meanwhile, hit .272 with a homer and 19 RBI and finished 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts. The shortstop had nine doubles, scored 27 runs and had a career-high five hits in a victory at regular-season champion Gettysburg. Johnson also set a school record with 147 assists.

Seniors Brett Rosen and Nick Kennedy battled injury to post solid seasons, with each driving in 13 runs and scoring 17. Rosen tied for the team lead with three home runs, including one in the bottom of the 11th against Johns Hopkins, while Kennedy set a school record by fielding 275 chances without an error at first base.

Junior Danny Usewick scored 23 runs and had 15 RBI while providing solid defense as the starting second baseman. Freshman Robbie Hopes made 13 starts at first base, hitting one home run.

Junior Matthew Lawksy was 5-2 on the mound, with one of the wins coming in the playoff opener at Haverford. He also pitched into the ninth in a 2-1 victory at Franklin & Marshall, giving up only three hits and a run.

Classmate David Anderson turned in a strong season, leading the starters with a 3.14 ERA. The right-hander tossed eight shutout innings in wins against York and Swarthmore. Fellow junior Nick Gies was 2-2 in seven starts.

Another junior, Phillip Balseca earned five saves and a pair of wins. Sophomore Josh Schoen had a 1.93 ERA in nine games, and junior Seth Fenster struck out 12 in 14.2 innings of relief. Junior Christian Ferlan started six games and sophomore Tim Hofmann three, each posting a win. Freshman Troy Elias cracked the starting rotation late in the season, going 2-0 with a win against regular-season champion Gettysburg.