Determined MCCC Baseball Team Returns to DII World Series for First Time Since 2017, Claims Top Four Finish


West Windsor, N.J. - Determination was the name of the game for this year’s Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Vikings baseball team. After losing two seasons to the pandemic, the team started the season with the goal of getting back to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II World Series for the first time since 2017. They not only accomplished that goal but went on an exciting run that brought them to the doorstep of the championship.

“The World Series run was amazing and is a testament to this team’s mental toughness,” said Head Coach Fred Carella. “They believed in themselves the entire postseason and refused to lose. It didn't matter the situation or the score, they were going to fight until the last out. It was a pleasure for me to watch them perform at such a high level during the most important time of the year.” 

The Vikings finished the season with a 37-20 record but seemed to always find a way to win when it mattered most. A streak of 9 consecutive postseason elimination game victories, which included 4 come-from-behind wins, helped the team capture the Region 19 and East District championships and continued into their trip to the Division II World Series in Enid, OK. 

Entering the World Series tournament as the 10th seed, the Vikings started strong by defeating 7th seed Murray State 15-6 but then lost 10-6 to 2nd seed Madison. On the brink of elimination, the guys did what they did all season and reeled off back-to-back wins. They defeated Murray State for a second time, by a score of 10-8, and then had one of their most impressive wins, a dramatic 14-11 comeback victory over 3rd seed Heartland. Going up against Madison in the Final Four, Mercer lost 3-1, ending what was certainly a memorable season for the team with a top four finish.

This season’s squad featured a potent offense, relying on a high batting average, a combination of power and speed, and many timely hits to push runs across the plate. Among DII teams, the Vikes ranked first in the nation in hits (656) and triples (36), while placing within the top five in runs scored (538), RBI (469), and batting average (.349). They also landed within the top 10 in home runs (68), extra base hits (206), and slugging percentage (.550). 

On the pitching side, Mercer boasted a strong crop of workhorse relievers, as five different pitchers appeared in at least 16 games. 

The offensive attack featured slugger Jarrett May, who set a Vikings single season record in home runs (18) that also placed him among the top 10 in the nation. He also led the team in RBI (67) and extra base hits (35); Matt Ervolina led the team in runs scored (66) and stolen bases (42), while getting caught stealing only two times all season; Josearmando Diaz finished 7th in the nation in batting average (.470), and 5th in on base percentage (.581). Other contributors included Randy Steen, who led the team in hits (80), and Xavier Delgado, who led the team in triples (9). 

On the pitching side, lefty Brett Mutz led the Vikes in wins (7) and innings pitched (52.1) and tied with Charles Kelley in games started (10). Kelley led the staff in strikeouts (44). The bullpen featured multiple workhorse relievers, with Ryan Conover leading all Mercer pitchers in appearances (22) and relievers in innings pitched (38.1); Collin McLaughlin appeared in 19 games and struck out 42 batters; Marco Martinez appeared in 18 games, striking out 37 batters and walking just 6, to go with a 3.56 ERA; James Costanzo and Andrew Luczak each appeared in 16 games for the Vikes. 

For their efforts, Mercer players have received numerous post-season accolades. Ervolina and Conover were named to the NJCAA World Series Division II World Series All-Tournament Team; Ervolina was also named DII All-Garden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was one of six Vikes to make the All-GSAC Team with Diaz, May, Delgado, Mutz, and Anthony Bruno. 

Finally, Coach Carella deservedly took home multiple awards, as he was named All-GSAC Coach of the Year, NJCAA Region 19 Coach of the Year, and NJCAA East District Coach of the Year. For Carella, the biggest prize of all was the progress his players made. 

“The most rewarding thing for me was watching how the work our guys did each day started to translate into wins on the field,” said Carella. “They did not panic or make drastic changes; they kept working and were rewarded for their effort.” 

There will be some changes to the roster next season, as ten Vikings will be transferring to four-year colleges, with a few more expected to make decisions soon. Getting to watch this special group of players achieve their goal was particularly enjoyable for their coach. 

“It was awesome to see our third-year guys finally get to experience postseason baseball and then to watch them rise to the occasion,” said Carella. “Those guys did not have to come back but felt they had unfinished business and they finished it this year. They made this year the most fun I've ever had coaching. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be their coach.” 

Carella feels good about the direction of the program, saying, “We have a good group of young guys returning who had the chance to see what it takes to get to Oklahoma. I expect them to lead the incoming players and make a run at another championship next year.” 

Carella was assisted by coaches Tyler Kmiec, Russ Stupienski, Ross Talbot, and Matt Zegari. 


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With 18 home runs, Jarrett May set a Vikings single season record and was among the top 10 in the nation.



Matt Ervolina led the team in runs scored (66) and stolen bases (42), while getting caught stealing only two times all season.



Josearmando Diaz finished 7th in the nation in batting average (.470), and 5th in on base percentage (.581).



Ryan Conover led Vikings pitchers in appearances (22) and relievers in innings pitched (38.1).