Local athletes hit the diamond as college baseball begins

LEWISTOWN – When talking about spring, everyone wants to see that first robin or the first colorful flower bloom. For a baseball fan, it’s when pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the major leagues.

But for the real baseball fanatic, it’s the start of the college baseball season. Those boys of spring start in late February, and many athletes from the area will be among their ranks.

  • Chris Baker, Midd-West, junior, Concord University. Baker moved on from Frederick Community College and is now a pitcher for Concord, which is located in Athens, W.Va. Concord has already played five games (2-3) and Baker pitched in one inning. The next game for Concord is on Saturday as it hosts Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
  • Morgan Barger, Indian Valley, junior, University of New Orleans. Barger moved from Cecil Community College in Maryland to Division I, University of New Orleans. The Privateers opened their season with three losses. Barger was two for nine in the first two games with a run scored, a double and an RBI. Last season New Orleans was 17-27 and 7-17 in the Sun Belt Conference. New Orleans plays Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, West Virginia, Tulane and Oklahoma in its non-conference schedule. It’s next game is today with the Razorbacks.

Barger, who is an outfielder, helped Cecil to a junior college World Series berth as a freshman in 2011.

  • Nick Beamenderfer, Lewistown, senior, St. Vincent. Last season Beamenderfer appeared in 30 games and started 27. He hit .315, scored 11 runs, had 29 hits including five doubles and drove in 14 runs.

St. Vincent is a member of the Presidents Athletic Conference. Last spring, St. Vincent had a 24-19 record. It opens the 2013 season in Winter Haven, Fla. against Wittenberg University, Ohio on March 3.

  • Nick Eversole, senior, Indian Valley, Bloomsburg. Eversole will be moving into his senior year coming off a .287 year. He started 36 games and played in 40. The Bloomsburg catcher scored 20 runs, had 29 hits including seven doubles, two triples and two home runs. He drove in 34 runs.

During the summer months, he competed in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League and was also a bullpen catcher for the minor league AA All-Star game in Reading.

Bloomsburg opens its 2013 schedule in Newport News, Va. on Thursday in the Apprentice School Tournament.

  • Brock Goodling, freshman, Mount Union, Winthrop. Goodling is now a transfer from Clemson and will not play this year due to the NCAA transfer rules.
  • Andrew Groninger, senior, East Juniata, Juniata College. Groninger appeared in 10 games last spring with a 1-1 record. He worked in 10 innings, walking eight with two strike outs.

Juniata opens its 2013 season on Saturday with a road trip to Mount St. Vincent and a doubleheader on Sunday against Bridgewater, Va.

  • Jay Hartman, senior, Indian Valley, Lock Haven. For four years of Hartman’s college life, football played a big part, but he found a new home on the baseball diamond in 2012.

And the Lock Haven program was happy to have the former end/defensive back play baseball.

All Hartman did last year was lead the Bald Eagles in three categories, including hitting at .357, runs scored with 40 and hits with 56. He also had four doubles and knocked in eight runs. As an outfielder, he only committed five errors in 135 chances.

The centerfielder finished in the top five in 14 offensive categories for Lock Haven. He also was the only Lock Haven player named to the All-PSAC team (second team, outfielder).

Hartman and Lock Haven open the season in Newport News, Va. at the Apprentice School Tournament in Newport News, Va.

  • Cody Heane, sophomore, Indian Valley, Bloomsburg. As a freshman last year, Heane had a 2-1 record with a 5.96 ERA. He pitched in 11 games, one of which he started. In 22.1 innings of work, he came up with one save, walked seven and struck out 11.

Bloomsburg plays in the Apprentice School Tournament in Newport News, Va. on Thursday.

  • Tanner Kibe, freshman, Mifflin County, Penn State, Mount Alto. Kibe was an infielder-pitcher for the Lions last spring. PSU-Mount Alto opens its season against Elms College at home on March 8.
  • Kyle Morrow, junior, Mount Union, Pitt-Johnstown. Morrow had an outstanding year as a sophomore. He started all 49 games for Pitt-Johnstown behind the plate. He hit .319 and scored 41 runs. He finished his second year in college baseball with 53 hits, 14 doubles, 12 home runs and drove in 48 runs. Last year Pitt-Johnstown went 24-25 and is ranked ninth in the pre-season poll for the Atlantic Region, NCAA Division II, by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Last year, the former Mount Union star was a first team selection on the All-Region team and he is a pre-season pick for the 2013 season.

Pitt-Johnstown had its first game postponed due to cold weather. It plays Bluefield State College at home on March 6.

  • Kyle Pannebaker, freshman, East Juniata, Juniata College. Pannebaker is a first year player and is listed as an infielder for Juniata. Juniata opens the season against Mt. Saint Vincent (N.Y.) on Saturday and plays a doubleheader against Bridgewater (Va.) on Sunday.
  • Devon Pearson, Indian Valley, Kansas City TeeBones. Pearson was one of the University of Delaware’s top pitchers in his senior year (2012). Kansas City is in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The TeeBones are not affiliated with Major League baseball.

Pearson had an ERA of 1.76 and just missed being in the NCAA top 20 as he did not qualify due to not enough innings pitched (He needed 1 and 2/3). He had a 6-1 record, walked 25 and struck out 41.

  • Elliot Searer, senior, Lewistown, Penn State. Searer, an infielder, is now in his senior year at Penn State. Last spring, he hit .232 as he played in 53 games and started all 53. The former Panther had 177 official at bats, scored 16 runs and had 41 hits. He doubled 11 times and added a triple. He knocked in 14 runs. In the infield he was second on the team with 135 assists and he fielded .943 for the year. The Nittany Lions (29-27), were 15-9 in Big Ten play and made the playoffs.

Searer had a memorable freshman season making the All-Big Ten freshman team and also had a 17-game hitting streak.

Penn State opened its season against East Tennessee State on the road as it dropped two of three games. In the first two games, Searer was 0-3 and scored a run.

  • Nolan Schaaf, sophomore, Indian Valley, Indiana University, Pa. Schaaf will be a red-shirt sophomore in the upcoming season. Last year, the Reedsville native sat out the season with an injury. Schaaf is a pitcher.

Indiana opens its season on Saturday against Concord in Athens, W.Va.

  • Colten Spade, sophomore, Lewistown, Lock Haven. Spade went to Lock Haven to wrestle, but now the only thing he will be wrestling with are curve balls. Spade changed sports and now is an outfielder for Lock Haven.

The season opens for Lock Haven on Thursday in Newport News, Va. at the Apprentice School Tournament?

  • Cole Walters, senior, Mount Union, Juniata College. Last year Walters played in 34 games and hit .243. He had 111 official at bats, scored 17 runs and had 27 hits including one double and one home run. The Mount Union graduate had 19 RBIs.

Juniata opens its 2013 season against Mount St. Vincent on Saturday and plays a doubleheader against Bridgewater (Va.) on Sunday.

  • Matt Wright, Midd-West, Toronto Blue Jays. Wright will be starting his fifth year in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system. Last year he played for AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats before he suffered a leg injury late in the season. The former Shippensburg University All-American had a 2-1 record in 2012 with a 3.96 ERA. He pitched in 27 games, starting two and picking up two saves. He pitched 52 and one third innings, walking 18 and striking out 58. His WHIP was 1.09.
  • Casey Zimmerman, senior, Lewistown, LaRoche College. The Lewistown graduate had an outstanding year for the Redhawkes last spring. Zimmerman hit .347 as he played in 33 games and started 32. He batted .347 and had 121 official at bats, scored 24 runs and had 42 hits. Zimmerman smashed nine doubles and four triples and knocked in 16 runs. In the outfield, he had 65 chances and only three errors. Last season, LaRoche, a school located outside of Pittsburgh, went 25-18 and earned its first ever win in the NCAA tournament.

LaRoche opens its season On Feb. 25 at Waynesburg.