BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College baseball squad will get its 2016 season underway this weekend with three games at the Hampden-Sydney College Classic in Hampden Sydney, Virginia.
The Hounds open the tournament versus host Hampden-Sydney at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 27, and on Sunday the Blue and Grey will battle York College of Pennsylvania at 11:00 a.m. before another game with the host at 3:00 p.m.
Head Coach Paul Engelhardt enters his 10th season at Moravian with a 216-152 record, and he returns 25 players and nine starters including pitchers from last year's 21-20 squad that hosted the Landmark Conference Championship series at Gillespie Field.
"I like the team and how hard the guys have worked so far getting ready for this season," commented Engelhardt. "We have a goal for the season to win the Landmark Conference title as well as make it back to the NCAA Tournament. I think the team's work ethic definitely makes it plausible for us to do both of these things."
The infield will be led by senior first baseman Charles Savite, who hit .311 last season with 47 hits, 24 runs scored, a team-high 13 doubles, a triple, two home runs and a team-leading 45 RBIs. Savite, who was on the Landmark All-Conference Second Team in 2015 and the First Team in 2014, also led the squad with 309 putouts to give him 1,031 in his career, just 54 shy of the school record. Savite enters his final season with 155 career hits, ninth in school history, 87 runs, 30 doubles, 120 RBIs, 480 at-bats and a .323 career average, and he has a chance to challenge for the school records in hits, at-bats and RBIs.
Other returners in the infield for the Greyhounds include senior Alex Bull, who had 27 hits, 18 RBIs, 18 runs, six doubles and two homers last season, and sophomore David Wodzsiz, who had five hits and three runs in limited action last spring. Senior catcher Mike Roethke returns behind the plate for the Greyhounds, and he heads into his final campaign needing one hit to join the Greyhounds' 100-hit club. Last season, Roethke, who was honored on the Landmark All-Conference First Team in 2015, hit .323 with 41 hits, 23 RBIs, 16 runs, six doubles, a triple and a home run while starting 36 games behind the dish with 189 putouts and 38 assists.
Junior Anthony Gaetaniello leads the returning outfielders for Moravian after hitting .340 last season with a team-high 49 hits and a team-leading 26 stolen bases to go with 34 runs, 15 RBIs and six doubles. Gaetaniello is also looking to join Moravian's 100-hit club this season, needing just nine hits. Senior Cameron Leon had 12 hits, nine runs, six RBIs and three doubles while seeing action both in the outfield and as a designated hitter last spring.
Sophomore Dan Morrin leads the returning pitching staff for the Hounds. Last spring, Morrin earned a spot on the Landmark All-Conference First Team after going 6-1 with a 1.71 ERA, one shutout, 41 strikeouts and just 12 walks in a team-high 63.1 innings of action. Sophomore lefty Nicholas Mazzella was 5-1 as a freshman for Moravian with a 3.67 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 49 innings while sophomore left-hander Ryan Kahn was 3-3 in his debut season with a 2.55 ERA, two shutouts and 39 strikeouts in 53 innings of work.
Senior Ian Carbone was a setup man last spring, seeing action in 10 games and recording 10 strikeouts in 12.2 innings but after spending the summer in the wood bat Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League with Morrin and Gaetaniello, Carbone will likely be a starting pitcher this year for Moravian. Senior Hunter Guard had a 1-1 mark, two saves and seven strikeouts in 18.2 innings as a reliever last season.
Sophomore Bryan Schoch had seven appearances and one start a year ago with a 3.68 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 14.2 innings while senior Tommy Natale-Drown had a 1.64 ERA and a pair of strikeouts in 11 innings over five appearances. Junior Nicolas Ampietro had a 1-1 record and 13 strikeouts in 20.1 innings, and he has also seen action as an infielder and designated hitter during his career. Senior Anthony Zaloga had 13 strikeouts in 11.1 innings over six appearances a year ago.
"I think we have some really good returners coming back such as Savite, Roethke, Bull and Gaets as far as the field players while on the mound we return almost everyone including Morrin, who had an excellent season last year and looks really good so far this preseason," Engelhardt said.
The Greyhounds begin the 2016 season with nine straight road games with three at the Hampden-Sydney Classic, a trip to nationally ranked Kean University and five games in Florida. Moravian opens a six-game home stand at Gillespie Field on Wednesday, March 16 when the Hounds host rival Muhlenberg College at 10:30 a.m.