With a little over a week until the 2015 Eastern Michigan baseball season gets underway in Tucson, Ariz., new Head Baseball Coach Mark Van Ameyde has been figuring out what ways to bring success to the program after a dismal 19-34 season (6-21 in the Mid-American Conference) in 2014.
“Coming off a season where we won just six games last year and [the new coaching staff] coming aboard, there is more talent in this club than winning six games in the conference," said Van Ameyde. "So I think right off the get go whatever happened last year, injuries where things start going south where the snowball effect happens, just a different atmosphere right away will allow us to win us a lot more games.”
Van Ameyde was brought in after spending the past six years on the Michigan State Spartans coaching staff. Van Ameyde previously coached at Eastern Michigan as pitching coach for the 2008 MAC Tournament Championship team which featured 2013 American League Rookie of the Year candidate and Los Angeles of Anaheim pitcher Matt Shoemaker.
Van Ameyde is coming into a team that will have a lot of new faces out on the field. To be specific, 13 of their 33 players are either freshmen or junior college transfers.
Of the new players, Van Ameyde spoke highly of junior college outfielder Jordan Peterson who he says is their “probable starter in right field and should be a tremendous player offensively and defensively.”
He also spoke highly of freshman infielder Luke DeVenney, saying he “probably won’t find himself in the starting lineup early in the year but has the ability to get there. I definitely see him contributing before the year is over.”
The Eagles start the season facing the University of Arizona, who recently won the College World Series in 2012. Last year the Eagles were able to pull off an extra innings win over then 16th ranked Clemson to start the year, and the Eagles hope to do the same to start this year off against Arizona.
Senior infielder and co-captain John Rubino said, “This year we’re even more disciplined and have the mentality that we are going to win and not sneaking a win when we win. We’re going to make a statement if we win and the attitude around here has changed and we expect a lot out of ourselves.”
Last year, the Eagles relied on Lee Longo, Sam Ott and Rubino at the top of their lineup. With Longo and Ott graduating, pressure will be on Rubino (.330 avg.) to build off of what he did last year and continue it into this year.
“I try to set my goals high and I expect a lot out of myself and offensively I just wanna build off of what I was successful with last year,” says Rubino.
Van Ameyde has expectations that junior outfielder Austin Wilson will bounce back after having a down 2014 season. “[Austin] played a fair amount last year, had a good freshman year and then struggled as a sophomore, so we’re looking for that bounce back year we think he’s capable of,” said Van Ameyde.
Pitching problems gave the Eagles the biggest fits last year with a team ERA of 5.50. Van Ameyde has brought in six new arms with high praises towards junior college transfer Augie Gallardo and true freshman Brent Mattson.
“Both guys have good arms," Van Ameyde said. "Augie brings more experience with multiple pitches for strikes. I think he’ll pitch a lot. Mattson has more of a learning curve but he has all the ability in the world. He may take a lot of lumps but he definitely will get a lot of opportunities and will help us early,”
Along with the fresh faces, the Eagles will still have returning pitchers Ben Dartnell, Charlie Land, Jake Andrews, Michael Marisinek, Ryan Lavoie, Devon Bronson, Matthew Beaton and Sam Delaplane.
Van Ameyde made a point saying, “We talk about our goals making the conference tournament. We’ve got six seniors who don’t want to go out on a career note of not going to the tournament since their freshman season. They’re a great group of kids, they work hard and I have a lot of faith and confidence that we will have an opportunity in May in Ohio.”
Probable Fielding lineup for the Eagles:
C: Adam Dennison/Tony DiLeo
1B: John Montgomery
2B: Johnny Rubino
SS: Marquise Gill
3B: Mitch McGeein
LF: Michael Mioduszewski
CF: Austin Wilson
RF: Jordan Peterson
Probable Pitching starters:
RHP Jake Andrews
RHP Ryan Lavoie
LHP Michael Marisinek
RHP Augie Gallardo
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