As the Marauder baseball team continues to handle whatever teams have to throw their way, it is coming time to turn their attention to the upcoming PSAC Tournament. After entering the tournament as the four seed from the East last season, the Marauders fell to Mercyhurst twice and were eliminated from the tournament after just one win.
This season, as of April 15th the Marauders sit atop the PSAC East with a 27-10 overall record, an impressive 10-2 against conference teams. A key weekend series with Kutztown saw the Marauders take three of four games to solidify their spot on top of the PSAC East. Kutztown, West Chester, and East Stroudsburg currently occupy spots 2-4 in the East, with California, Mercyhurst, Gannon and Lock Haven hoping to make the cut in the West.
From a starting pitching standpoint, the Marauders look to be set. The 1-2 punch packed by the combo of Tim Mayza and Chris Murphy is possibly the most dominant in Division II baseball. Both Mayza and Murphy were recognized for their outstanding performances, as both were recently added to the watch list for the Tino Martinez Award. Martinez, a two time All-Star and four time World Series champ with the Rays, Yankees, and Cardinals, played Division II baseball at the University of Tampa; the award in his name is given to the most outstanding player in all of Division II baseball.
Mayza (8-1) and Murphy (9-1) have guided the Marauders to the top of the PSAC East standings and look to continue their dominance into the upcoming PSAC Tournament. After Mayza and Murphy in the tournament rotation sits Tad Barton. Barton struggled in the beginning of the season, though Coach Jon Shehan claimed that “as of late Tad Barton at the forefront of the rotation is huge”. Barton was quick to back up his coach’s words, hurling a complete game, including a whopping 10 strikeouts in a 6-1 victory against Mansfield on Saturday.
The bullpen may prove to be the biggest problem for the Marauders. That is, the bullpen may prove to be a problem if they are ever called on. Though Mayza and Murphy seem to have a penchant for finishing what they start, when the ‘pen is used they tend to run into trouble, sporting a less than impressive 6.02 ERA. Shehan doesn’t seem fazed however, saying that the team has “learned a lot about [the] bullpen as a staff.” The bright spot of the bullpen seems to be closer Adam Zipko. Zipko has an impressive 2.46 ERA and has saved six games for the Marauders, striking out 14 in 14.2 innings of work. Both the front and the back of the pitching staff for the Marauders are very solid with Mayza and Murphy starting games and Zipko closing them out.
The Marauders offense should be an area of little concern. Millersville leads the entire conference in team batting average (.329), runs (289), hits (379), and homers (19), and is behind only California (Pa.) with 71 steals. On an individual level, the conference leader can be summed up in just two words: Zach Stone. Stone is hitting an incredible .439 at the plate and has tallied 54 hits and a .535 on base percentage, all league leading stats. He is also in the top five league wide in runs, homers, total bases, and RBIs. Evan King has shown to be an excellent table setter at the top of the lineup, getting on base at a .461 clip and swiping 21 bags. Jeremy Musser, Dan Johnson, Tyler McDonald and Jeff Heisey are all hitting above .300 and have shown the ability to produce runs and lead an offense.
When the PSAC Tournament begins on May 8th, the Marauders look to be in good shape. With a dominant pitching rotation, lights out closer, and the conference’s best offense, the Marauders should look to give defending champ West Chester a run for their money.