COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University baseball team is getting ready to kick off the 2017 season. Expectations are high as Cap returns a lot of talent, headlined by Logan Bastin who was selected as all-region by D3baseball.com and ABCA/Rawlings, after losing just one senior last year.
Senior third baseman Logan Bastin (Mansfield, Ohio / Lexington) returns as one of the Ohio Athletic Conference's top hitters. Last season, Bastin tied for the lead in the OAC with a batting average of .415. He finished second in the OAC with seven home runs and was fifth in RBIs with 43. Along with being named to the all-region team by D3baseball.com and ABCA/Rawlings, he was also an Academic All-American.
Bastin was joined at the top of the OAC by senior second baseman Brett Colburn (Liberty Township, Ohio / Lakota East). Colburn earned Second Team All-OAC honors last season with a batting average of .415, which put him tied for first in the OAC. He led the team with 22 multi-hit games.
Bastin and Colburn are joined by senior first baseman Tyler Cetnarowski (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio / St. Vincent-St. Mary) and sophomore shortstop Joe Caporale (Mayfield, Ohio / Mayfield) in the infield. Cetnarowski finished the season tied for first on the team with 11 stolen bases.
Junior Alex Smith (Elk Grove, Calif. / Cosumnes Oaks) earned All-OAC honors last season and is a key returner in right field. Smith led the team with four triples and finished tied for second with two homeruns. Senior center fielder Jake Foley (Pataskala, Ohio / Licking Heights) and junior left fielder Zackary Ary (London, Ohio / Jonathan Alder) return this season to join Smith as starters in the outfield. Foley and Ary add speed on the base paths, last year they stole 11 and eight bases respectively.
Senior Justin Ennis (Vista, Calif. / Vista), sophomore Travis Gilbert (Marion, Ky. / Crittenden County), freshman Ben Bethay (Lagrange, Ky. / Old Ham County), and freshman Billy Porter (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Chagrin Falls) all look to compete for the starting catcher job after senior Kirby Boehm graduated.
The team has a lot of experience returning, which looks to help the team get to the top of the OAC. One of the keys to this year's season is going to be staying healthy. "Expectations are high and to win the OAC, but certainly [we want to be] a top-4 team," said Head Coach Ryan Grice.
The pitching staff returns its top two starters in senior Shane Wellman (Moundsville, W. Va. / John Marshall) and Brendon Borkey (Kirtland Hills, Ohio / Lake Catholic). Despite a season-ending injury, Wellman still finished third in the OAC with an earned run average of 1.75 and finished with 52 strikeouts. Wellman recorded a 4-0 record with one complete game.
Borkey returns after pitching the most innings for Cap with 50. Junior Pat Avellano (Alpharetta, Ga. / Alpharetta), sophomore Gabe Morris (Pataskala, Ohio / Newark Catholic) and sophomore Alex Mukensturm (Tecumseh, Mich. / Tecumseh) look to round out the starting rotation.
Along with the starting pitchers, the Crusaders' bullpen returns a key piece in junior Joseph Borkey (Kirtland Hills, Ohio / Lake Catholic). Joseph Borkey led the team in saves, with two, and finished second on the team with 39 strikeouts in just 22.2 innings pitched.
Senior Tyler Spears (Washington Courthouse, Ohio / Washington), junior Jared Bass (Warrington, Pa. / Central Bucks South), and freshman Kole Carter (Gallipolis, Ohio / Gallia Academy) look to add depth out of the pen this season. Junior Casey Hamrick (Westerville, Ohio / Worthington Christian) will be used as both a starter and a reliever.
"If Wellman and Bastin stay healthy they look to compete for the pitcher of the year and the player of the year awards," said Grice.
Cap looks to improve on a 19-17 overall record and a 7-11 OAC record. Capital starts its season in Florida on the spring break trip when it takes on Waynesburg University. The two teams play in a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 25, the first day of the trip. Cap will play nine games in Florida before returning to Ohio. Once back from Florida, the Crusaders will be on the road for the first two games, before the home opener on March 9 at 4 p.m.