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MCCC Baseball Team Concludes Season With Third Consecutive Region 19 Title

6/18/18


MCCC Baseball Team

The MCCC Vikings baseball team celebrates after winning its third consecutive NJCAA Region 19 championship.

WEST WINDSOR – For the 13th consecutive year, the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) baseball team finished the season with a winning record and for the first time in program history, captured a third consecutive National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 19 championship.

Expectations were high for the 2018 squad, which was coming off an appearance in the 2017 NJCAA World Series title game and a second place national finish. The Vikings entered the season ranked third nationally in pre-season polls and building on a 48-14 record during the 2017 season. But the team was charged with defending their Region 19 title with a roster that was more than half freshmen, and without All-Americans and Major League Baseball draft picks Dennis Brady and Anthony Peroni.

“With only one returner in the lineup from the 2017 season, we had some growing pains and we knew that coming in,” Kerins said. “Our coaching staff worked to push our players out of their comfort zones. We put together one of the toughest schedules in the country to prepare the team for the post season.”

The Vikings got off to a slow start on the season, posting a 2-5 record in February. But at the Riken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mercer upped its game against talented teams from across the nation, leaving The Palmetto State with a 3-3 record for the tournament, outscoring opponents by a total of 46 to 32. The team returned to New Jersey with momentum in their favor, rattling off 11 consecutive wins.

“We knew it would take some time for players to understand how we needed them to play,” Kerins said. “Our coaches worked very hard to address areas where we needed to improve, both physically and mentally.”

The Vikings went undefeated in the Region 19 tournament to capture its third consecutive title, but ran into the proverbial “perfect storm” of challenges going into the Northeast District Championship, which came down to a best-of-three series against CCBC Essex for the right to advance to the NJCAA World Series. After a heartbreaking 5-4 loss in 13 innings, the Vikes’ season came to a close the next day with a 11-10 defeat.

“We had weather issues, fatigue issues, and we played a really good, scrappy team,” Kerins said. “Essex was a really good team and earned it. We lost two one-run games with emotions high in extra innings, and with rain and fog delays. It was a wild weekend, but unfortunately, things didn’t go our way.”

While the Vikings fell short of their goal of returning to the NJCAA World Series for a third consecutive year, there were several bright spots on the season. A septet of Vikings were chosen for the All-Region 19 roster, more than any other team in the region. These players served as the core of the Region 19 “three-peat” team.

The offensive attack was led by catcher Ciaran Devenney, a .336 hitter, and outfielder Sean McGeehan, who batted .319. Both had nine home runs on the season, and were named to the All-Region 19 team. Joining them is utility man Colin Sheehan, a .373 hitter with 28 RBI in 42 games; infielder Jimmy Versage, a .375 hitter who slugged .777 for the season; and outfielder Dom Boselli, a .323 hitter with eight home runs and 48 RBI in 50 games.

On the pitching side, two Vikings were named to the All-Region 19 team: C.J. Schiable, with 47 strikeouts in 50 innings and a 3.06 ERA; and Chris Mormile, who averaged more than 12 strikeouts per game with a total of 84.

“The All-Region players were the foundation of our lineup, staff and team,” Kerins said. “They were all very deserving, and we are proud to have had them in our program.”

With more than half the roster returning next year and a number of blue-chip recruits in the fold, Kerins said the 2019 team looks forward to the challenge of a “four-peat,” and the third return to the national championship tournament in four years.

“We are very excited about 2019, as we return a lot of players from this season,” Kerins said. “They should have an edge after getting so close to getting back to the NJCAA World Series. Our coaching staff did a great job of surrounding these returnees with incoming players – some from as far away as Mexico and the Dominican Republic. It should be a great season.”

Kerins is assisted by coaches Fred Carella, Phil Hawkes, Sean Reindel, and Matt Zagari.

 

 

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