Earns Baseball Team GSAC Title
Windsor, N.J. - From the perspective of Head Coach Matt Wolski,
who just completed his fifth season, it's preferable to lose a close
game against a good team than to win by a landslide. "It's
a better game. It teaches players more and that's what it's all
about. The things they experience come up in championship games.
Then they've already been there and it's not new," he explains.
baseball team learned plenty of lessons this season, as it took
on tough competition in the region. The Vikings faced powerhouses
Gloucester CC, the eventual national winner in Div. III, and a very
strong Brookdale squad. Still, Mercer had its share of successes,
earning a 17-13 record and the Garden State Athletic Conference
The Vikings kicked their season into gear at the Myrtle Beach Invitational
March 15-19, returning to New Jersey with a 6-2 record after five
days of competition. Strong pitching and hitting were key to the
team's success at the tournament, which set the tone for a season
of hard work and solid progress.
"They played beyond my expectations," Wolski said. "They
played as a team. That makes you better; you are counting on each
Heading towards the post-season, the Vikings had momentum as they
posted wins in a doubleheader against Salem CC on May 1 and a 16-9
victory over Gloucester on May 4. Facing Burlington CC in the double
elimination Region 19 play-in round May 8-9, the Vikings lost the
first game 21-7 and then came back to win the second game 16-10.
The third game the following day was close, but the Vikings were
the 10-8 losers.
"The last game was close," Wolski said. "We were
ahead. But as well as we were playing, in the end, Burlington was
just a little better."
Wolski is proud of his players' growth during the season. Pitcher
Shawn Reindel, who missed the 2009 season due to injury, delivered
on the mound. The right-hander helped the Vikings cross the .500
mark in a strong outing against Sussex on April 3; they remained
above .500 for the rest of the season. Reindel was the team's strike-out
leader with 72. Veteran leader James Page also performed well on
Making significant contributions on offense were Matt Hill, Russ
Stupienski and Luis Alvarez, especially in the run-up to the Region
19 tournament. Third baseman Hill, a second team All-GSAC pick last
year, batted .408 on the season and led the Vikings with 35 RBI's.
Alvarez had 31 hits and batted .383, and utility player Stupienski
batted .304 with 24 hits. Freshman centerfielder Kevin Koscak was
the team's lead-off hitter, with a batting average of .360.
According to Wolski, Mercer has been a great beginning for a number
of his players. "Right now we have 7 or 8 guys playing Division
I and several others in Division III," he said. From this year's
squad, Hill will be transferring to Rowan University, and Page and
Stupienski, who both signed pre-season letters of intent, will play
at St. Peter's College.
Wolski stresses that academics matter. "What coaches [from
four-year schools] tell us is that our players are ready to be there
- athletically and academically. It's important that they are able
to establish themselves in the classroom. When I recruit kids, I
emphasize that from the start."
Athletes have huge demands on their time, Wolski acknowledges. "You
are practicing three hours, and playing doubleheaders that can last
six hours. That's why we have study halls, so that players learn
to organize their time and study with no distractions."
Looking to next season, Wolski is upbeat. "We have a number
of good recruits coming in," he says, including players from
Steinert, Lawrence, Nottingham and Ewing, and several from other
counties including Burlington and Hunterdon.
was assisted by Fred Carella and Kevin Kerins.
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