Now in his third
season as head coach, Matt Wolski is enjoying the fruits of three
years of labor. With a final record of 34-13, the Vikings had their
most successful season in years, capturing the Region 19 title for
the first time since 2003 and making the trip to the District 15
Tournament in Rockland, NY.
the first full year with my recruits," he said. "These
players have a clear understanding of what I expect." In addition
to a solid nucleus of eight impact players who returned from last
season, Wolski had a long list of impressive freshmen and expects
ten of them to return next year. "You attract good players
by winning games," he said.
experienced their fair share of drama this season, none more striking
than at the Region 19 Tournament. In the double-elimination tournament,
which was held May 2-4 at Salem County College, the Vikings defeated
Salem 8-2 in the first round on May 2. On May 3, they lost to Lackawanna
13-4, forcing them into the loser's bracket to face Salem for the
second time in two days. They beat Salem again, this time by a score
of 5-2. Mercer headed into the final day of action needing two wins
against the still undefeated Lackawanna.
Digging deep, Mercer found a way to earn two come-from-behind wins,
the first a morale-boosting 11-4 rout and the second a hard fought
4-2 victory, with the winning run coming late in the game. "That
Sunday was quite a day," Wolski said. "Sometimes you do
better when your back is against wall. You know you have to give
everything you've got or you are going home the loser."
In the District 15 Tournament, the Vikings faced stellar competition.
After a rain-out on May 9, they lost 11-7 to the University of Connecticut
at Avery Point on May 10. In their next match-up, they defeated
Sullivan County 11-4, but could not get the job done against Monroe
CC, losing 3-1. According to Wolski, Monroe was simply better that
day (and went on to finish third in the World Series).
Wolski counted on his pitchers to deliver. "Our greatest strength
was our pitching," he said. "We had eight solid pitchers:
the top three were Will Blackmon, Chris Dolan and Greg Hough, but
they were all good. And the team had fun together, which helps players
produce. They do a little extra for their buddies."
Asked to single out players who excelled, Wolski said, "Where
do I stop? They all contributed - Jason Zegarski at short stop,
Chris Cox in left field, Dave Angebrant at catcher - but I could
keep going with this team."
Wolski, players often come to Mercer because they are still maturing
physically. He points to a player like third baseman Frank Mercurio,
who has concentrated on his physical development over the past two
years and was selected for Mercer's Strength and Conditioning Award
this spring. Mercurio will transfer to play at the University of
Pittsburgh in the fall. Other players who have reaped the benefits
of working hard on the Mercer baseball team are sophomore pitchers
Will Blackmon, who is currently considering offers from four schools,
and Greg Hough, who will play at Winthrop University (SC) next year.
about them than me," Wolski said. "I just show them the
way and let them run with it. They have no choice but to work hard.
The players count on each other."
Wolski is serious
in his approach to the game. "You can't win any other way,"
he said. "There are good programs and bad programs. If you
are going to spend six hours on the field playing a doubleheader,
you want to come out the winner. The ride home is better and your
dinner tastes better." Wolski was assisted this year by Fred
Carella and Kevin Kerins.