The York College baseball team enters the 2012 season with a new head coach for the first time in the last 26 years as long time assistant and former Spartan catcher Mike Scappa assumes the reigns of the program. Scappa, a four year letter winner for York in the mid-90's, has spent the last 14-years as former head coach Paul Saikia's lead assistant in the Spartan dugout.
Scappa will rely on a strong group of returning players, as the Spartans will look to return to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. York's lone All-CAC representative from 2011, senior centerfielder Steve Tretter, returns to anchor the Spartan everyday lineup.
Long will hold down first base for the Spartans as he moves out from behind the plate. He played in 17 games last year and had a .289 on-base percentage. Long had a strong fall season and made the position change a smooth one. He will be backed up by freshman Derek Pitzer and sophomore Dan Solomon.
Worthman returns from an injury that cost him all but seven games last year. Worthman was an All-CAC selection as a sophomore and his loss affected the York offense last year. He will likely hit near the top of the order and provides York with a consistent threat to get on base. Senior Adam Hegedus provides quality depth at second for the Spartans.
Porter returns as a seasoned sophomore at short for the Green and White. Porter hit .229 while he had a .315 on-base percentage. He is a smooth fielding shortstop who had a strong fall season at the plate.
Cohen will man the hot corner after making the transition from catcher during the spring last season. Cohen hit .285 with 20 RBI and 19 runs scored in 130 at-bats last year. Cohen will also likely see time as the designated hitter, allowing McCann to get some innings at third. McCann is an outstanding defensive player and has continued to progress as an offensive player.
Herr takes over the duties behind the plate and has shown great leadership during the fall. The sophomore has a smooth swing and brings the ability to drive the ball to the gaps and can hit for a high average. Freshman Adam Bartholomew will also see time behind the plate during the season for York. He is a big, strong catcher that provides Scappa with an excellent option behind Herr.
Joining Tretter in the outfield are newcomer Drew Frankenfield in right and King in left. Tretter led the Spartans with a .305 average last year while he also had 19 runs scored and 16 RBI. He also had 11 doubles, two triples, and four home runs. Frankenfield transferred into the Spartan program and Scappa expects big things from him, as Frankenfield will hit in the heart of the Spartans' order. King came on late last season and continued his strong play in the fall. He hit .291 in 55 at-bats last year with a .426 slugging percentage and a .347 on-base percentage. King is a good athlete who moved to the outfield last spring. Sophomore Andrew Hershey is another outfielder that could find himself in the mix both in the outfield or as the designated hitter.
"I like the guys we can run out there every day," states Scappa. "They have worked hard and put themselves in position to be successful. We are asking them to play a little bit different and they have responded to that. I am anxious to see how they will perform once the season starts."
The pitching staff has potential led by former CAC Rookie-of-the-Year Joey Couch. Couch finished last year with three wins as he made 12 starts with a 4.84 ERA. Couch pitched very well down the stretch and continued his growth during the fall for the Spartans. He tossed eight scoreless innings in a late season loss at Ferrum and enters the campaign with renewed confidence as the Spartans' top starter. Senior Tommy Moran, sophomore Tyler Alexander, and sophomore David Walker round out the early season Spartan rotation. Moran was limited to 16.1 innings last year but threw well in the fall and continued that in preseason practices. Alexander made 10 relief appearances as a freshman last year and did not record a record with a 4.42 ERA. He has reworked his delivery and is developing into a very reliable hurler for the Spartans. Walker went 2-2 as a freshman with a 2.73 ERA in 33 innings of work. He struck out 25 while he held opponents to a .230 batting average.
Freshmen Dan Gurganus and Zach Philippi are a pair of first-year pitchers that are expected to have an impact on the Spartan staff. Both freshmen will have a chance to make some spot starts in addition to getting work out of the pen.
Scappa has a group of reliable relievers that he will be able to turn to for relief. Senior Brandon Ullom, junior Dan McNamara, senior KC Beshore, junior Josh Kohn, freshman David McGee, and freshman Mike Sarecky give Scappa strong options late in the game.
Ullom is the Spartans' most experienced bullpen arm as he made 18 appearances last year. McNamara transferred into the Spartan program and is a strong left-handed pitcher. Beshore returns for his senior year after missing last season with an injury. Kohn boasted a 2.89 ERA in 18.2 innings last year and he gives Scappa another left-handed option. McGee and Sarecky are a pair of newcomers that have impressed the coaching staff with their composure and ability.
"The pitching staff is a good mix of experience and new guys," says Scappa. "I want them to work fast, throw strikes and challenge hitters. We will have a good defensive squad behind them so I want them to go after hitters and make them put the ball in play."
Scappa is excited about the possibilities for his first season at the helm of the program.
"I am ready to get started," says the longtime Spartan. "We have a determined group of kids that have worked hard heading into the season. We have changed the way we play and the guys have embraced the style. I expect to play an exciting brand of baseball. We will pressure our opponents on offense and our pitchers will attack hitters. It has a chance to be a good year."
The Spartans open up their campaign on February 25 at the Emory University Rawlings Southern Classic. York will play four games in the tournament before heading back north and playing Southern Virginia on February 28. York makes its home debut on March 7 against Johns Hopkins.