West Windsor, N.J. – The Vikings’ baseball dreams ended in jarring fashion, as the team lost its first two games in the highly competitive, double elimination NJCAA Region 19 Tournament, played at Del Tech Owens May 10-12. The losses were squeakers – 5-4 to host Del Tech Owens and 6-5 to Lackawanna.
Clearly that was not the way the story was supposed to end for the no. 1-seeded Vikings, who earned a "bye" in the region play-in round and were ranked no. 12 in the nation.
Still, the Vikings’ talent and their considerable achievements this season are without question, says Head Coach Kevin Kerins. He points to the team’s overall record of 32-15 and its Region 19 record of 11-3.
Two members of the MCCC roster were named among Region 19's top five players: outfielder Mark Tomei (no. 3) and pitcher Paul Piromalli (no. 5). Coach Kerins, who is completing his first full year at the helm, was named Region 19’s Coach of the Year.
Both Tomei and Piromalli were selected to the First Team All Region, along with infielder Heath Fillmyer, who was also a National Gold Glove nominee. Outfielder Dan Denton was named to the Second Team All Region.
Another measure of success is a sophomore class that includes 10 players who will transfer to four-year schools: Matt Berbon-Owle, Dan Denton, Darren Heisse, Mike Mimm, Paul Piromalli, Mike Ras, Matt Rodriguez, Steve Spadafino and Chuck Wyckoff.
Said Kerins, “Though we fell short of our goal to earn a berth at the NJCAA World Series, there are many positives to take from this season. We earned national recognition with our no. 12 ranking and we are very proud of our sophomores who will be moving on to play at four-year schools, including some who have had Division I and II offers.” He notes that one player is expected to be part of the Major League Baseball draft in June.
Kerins is already looking enthusiastically to next year, when his strong group of freshmen will return and talented new recruits are expected to join the team.
“The staff is hitting the recruiting trail to finalize this year’s incoming roster. Our goal is to continue to build on the standard of excellence we have set for our program,” he said.
“We want our players to use Mercer as a springboard,” Kerins continued. “I am proud of this team’s accomplishments, especially our sophomores, who set such a good example on the field and in the classroom.”
Kerins was assisted by Fred Carella and Shawn Reindel.