GVSU Picked First in 2012 GLIAC Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Poll

GVSU Picked First in 2012 GLIAC Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Poll

2012 GLIAC Baseball Preview

BAY CITY, Mich. – The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) baseball coaches selected Grand Valley State University to win the league title in the 2012 GLIAC Baseball Preseason Poll.

GVSU finished on top of the 2012 GLIAC Preseason poll having won five of the last six GLIAC regular season titles after posting a 34-1 mark in league play last season.  The Lakers garnered 80 points and eight first-place votes.

Wayne State University placed second in the poll with 68 points, edging out Ashland University, which placed third with 65 points and one first-place vote.  Saginaw Valley State University came in fourth with 56 points, followed by Ohio Dominican University with 47 points in fifth place.

Northwood University claimed sixth place with 34 points, while Tiffin University earned one first-place nod and 32 points to place seventh.

Lake Erie College finished eighth with 31 points, followed by Hillsdale College in ninth (22 points) and the University of Findlay in 10th (15 points).

2012 GLIAC Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Poll





Grand Valley State (8)



Wayne State



Ashland (1)



Saginaw Valley State



Ohio Dominican






Tiffin (1)



Lake Erie









Previews are listed below in projected order of finish in the 2012 GLIAC Baseball Coaches Poll:

1. Grand Valley State University

Overview: Grand Valley State looks forward to 2012 after completing a highly successful 2011 season which saw the Lakers advance to their fifth Division II College World Series in the last nine years. The Lakers finished the season 52-5 overall, a school record for victories with a 34-1 mark in GLIAC play, the most GLIAC wins in a single season in conference history.

GVSU returns almost all its pitching from the 2011 season, including senior All-American Kyle Schepel, who was 11-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 66 strikeouts. Senior Ryan Garman, an ABCA Preseason All-American, also returns after posting a 9-1 record with a team-leading 1.90 ERA in 2011, holding hitters to a .214 batting average. Garman also threw the seventh no-hitter in school history against Ashland during the season. Closing games out will be junior Brad Zambron, who posted a school record 10 saves in 2011 with a 1.95 ERA. He struck out 38 batters while walking only two on the year and holding hitters to a .189 average.

On offense, senior preseason All-American Steve Anderson will return most of the Lakers' production. Last season, Anderson was a First Team All-Midwest Region honoree and a Tino Martinez Award Semifinalist. Anderson is the top returning player in nearly every offensive category for GVSU after hitting .397 with 15 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 64 RBI and a .625 slugging percentage. His 64 runs batted in was the second highest single-season total in school history and he begins 2012 within striking distance of the career records in both RBI and total bases at GVSU.

Head coach Steve Lyon returns for his 14th season at the helm of the Lakers. Lyon is 509-189-2 (.729) at GVSU with a career mark of 622-290-3 (.681). The Lakers are 289-101-2 (.740) in GLIAC play under Lyon. He was named both the GLIAC and Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 2011.

Coaching: Steve Lyon is in his 14th season as the head coach of Grand Valley State University.

2011 Record: 52-5 overall, 34-1 GLIAC


2. Wayne State University

Overview:  Wayne State has 24 letterwinners returning from one of its most successful campaigns in program history. The Warriors won a school-record 35 games in 2011 and advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Midwest Regional for the second time. The 2010 GLIAC champion, Wayne State has qualified for the postseason seven times in the last eight years and will look to return again in 2012 under the direction of fourth-year head coach Ryan Kelley, who is 92-67 (.579) since taking the helm of the program in the fall of 2008.

Among the 15 seniors on the squad is right-hander Josh Wedesky, an All-GLIAC Second Team selection who tied the school record with 10 victories, second-most in the conference, last season.  Centerfielder Kyle Vesey, the fourth-leading hitter on the team a year ago (.315, 52 H, 33 R), had a career-high 33 RBI and led the team with 13 stolen bases.  Second baseman Andrew Ciennik, one of two Warriors to play in all 56 games in 2011, is a two-time All-GLIAC selection and a 2010 All-Region honoree.

Wayne State will begin the 2012 season March 4-6 at the Armstrong Atlantic Savannah Invitational.

2011 Record: 35-21 overall, 22-13 GLIAC

Coaching: Ryan Kelley is in his fourth second season as head coach of the Warriors. 


3. Ashland University

Overview:  A year ago, the Eagles fielded one of the youngest teams of head coach John Schaly’s 14-year Ashland tenure. That team went 30-21 and in the GLIAC, finished third. The hope is that the young talent has matured and the Eagles can make a run for the conference title in 2012. Six position players are back from last season along with five pitchers.

Sophomore third baseman Tyler Gray hit .335 last year, drove in 29 runs and was a first team All-GLIAC selection. He should anchor the middle of the lineup along with junior first baseman Austin Erb (.350, 2 HR, 19 RBI).  Outfielders Ethan Houck (.293), a senior, and Shayne Herold (.288), a junior, are two more experienced bats the Eagles will count on this season.

Graduation claimed right-handed pitcher Ajay Meyer (9-3, 1.47 ERA), an All-American and the region and GLIAC pitcher of the year.  Senior right-hander Aaron Hilt (5-5, 2.17 ERA) is projected to be the ace of the staff. Junior Brad Thomas (5-4, 4.91 ERA) is another experienced right-hander.

2011 Record: 30-21 overall, 19-15 GLIAC

Coaching: Ashland is coached by John Schaly, who is in his 15th season and owns a record of 547-251 record with the Eagles, and a 910-469 career record. Under Schaly, AU has advanced to the NCAA playoffs 11 of 14 years with four trips to the NCAA Division II World Series.


4. Saginaw Valley State University

Overview: The Saginaw Valley State University baseball team will look to improve on their fourth place finish in the GLIAC in 2011 as they prepare for a title run in 2012. Head coach Walt Head enters his 30th season as skipper of the Cardinals one season after eclipsing the 800 win plateau.

 The Cardinals will be an experienced squad in 2012, losing just one starter from last season. Saginaw Valley ace Carson Beauchaine is coming off of a strong 2011 campaign in which he earned All-Region and All-GLIAC recognition. Beauchaine finished the season with a 6-4 record and a team-leading 2.21 ERA, while tossing team-high 61.0 innings, striking-out a team-best 48 batters and holding opponents to a team-best .238 batting average.

Junior outfielder Kyle O’Boyle received All-GLIAC honors, batting .335 with 52 hits, 24 runs, 16 doubles, six home runs and 46 RBI’s. O’Boyle finished 2011 in the top 100 nationally in three categories: doubles, RBI, and slugging percentage. Shortstop Matt Hunt leads the SVSU infield, coming off of a solid season in 2011, where he batted .314 and a .431 on-base percentage with 50 hits, 27 RBI’s and 29 walks. Senior outfielder Ryan Ermers led the team with a .353 batting average.  His 48 hits were good for third on the squad. Hunt and Ermers also received All-GLIAC honors.

The 2011 Cardinals got off to a slow start at 3-14, but finished the season strong with a 25-24 record, including 18-15 in the GLIAC. The fourth place finish was the best finish for SVSU since they placed third in 2007.

2011 Record: 25-24 overall, 18-15 GLIAC

Coaching: Walt Head has a career record of 818-580-6 as he enters his 30th season as head coach of the Cardinals.



5. Ohio Dominican University

Overview: Ohio Dominican (19-27, 16-19 GLIAC) was not eligible for a postseason berth last year as it transitioned from NAIA to Division II, but the Panthers still finished fifth in their first season in the conference, just one spot out of what would have been a conference tournament bid. ODU lost 16 games by three runs or fewer, including six one-run games, last year.

ODU returns six starters from last year’s lineup, including senior shortstop Tyler Zaidel, senior center fielder Evan Shaw and senior designated hitter/right fielder Austin Grate, junior catcher Zack Dascenzo and sophomore right fielder/designated hitter Bryan Rudolph. Grate is the top returning hitter after hitting .322 (.469 OBP) with a homer and 16 RBI, while Dascenzo batted .294 with a pair of homers.

The Panthers have four starting pitchers, including sophomore Sean Blackburn and junior Alex Borgan, who both won five games apiece. Borgan was one of the conference leaders in appearances, innings pitched, complete games, while Blackburn limited the opposition to a .196 batting average against and no homers in 44.0 innings pitched.

ODU’s lineup and rotation is bolstered by the addition of 27 newcomers, including 26 freshmen, 10 of which are pitchers. Twenty-fifth year skipper Paul Page enters the 2012 season with a career record of 883-428-6.

2011 Record: 19-27 overall, 16-19 GLIAC

Coaching: Paul Page is in his 25th season as the head coach at Ohio Dominican University.



6. Northwood University

Overview:  The Northwood University baseball team will sport a team featuring a balance of youth and experience heading into the 2012 season under head coach Joe DiBenedetto, who sports a 561-563 record in 23-years as a head coach.

Northwood’s top-three returning players are all seniors, led by pitcher Mark Heard. He earned Second Team All-GLIAC honors a year ago when he went 5-3 overall with a 3.11 ERA. Catcher Ryan Palmer used a red-hot finish to the season to claim Honorable Mention All-GLIAC recognition. He hit .299 with team-bests in home runs (five) and RBI’s (26). Jake Labrecque hit .297 a year ago while sharing team-high honors in RBI’s with Palmer. Other key returners to the team include centerfielder Jake Oard, third baseman Andy Bouchard, shortstop Jason Fracassa and reliever Jordan Schwellenbach.

2011 Record: 18-23 overall, 13-18 GLIAC

Coaching: Joe Di Benedetto is in his 13th season as head coach of the Northwood baseball program.


7. Tiffin University

Overview:  The 2012 season is a blank canvas for the Tiffin University baseball team.  The Dragons went 10-24 in the GLIAC and 13-35 for the 2011 season with 16 losses by three runs or less.  Tiffin returns 14 of 27 letterwinners.

“I’m looking forward to the upcoming season,” said head coach Lonnie Allen.  “The players we have back along with the newcomers have me really excited.  I thought we really gelled during the fall training.  I’m anticipating having a very good season in 2012.”

Offensively, Tiffin returns six of seven players who hit better than .280.  Senior Pat Curtin, an All-GLIAC first team and All-Midwest Region second team selection, scored 30 runs and led the squad with a .384 average. The Dragons also return All-GLIAC honoree senior Jordan Chiero.  Chiero had 11 doubles and three triples, scored 30 runs, drove in 26 runs and hit .327. Senior Val Helldobler, an All-GLIAC selection, had 11 doubles, drove in 24 runs, stole 11 bases and hit .298.  Senior Zach McCutcheon batted .283 and senior Cory Osborne led the team with 28 RBI’s while hitting .281.

On the mound, senior Chris Pistorio and Curtin are the top hurlers back for the Dragons.  Pistorio was 4-4 with three complete games in nine starts, struck out 22 batters and had a 6.17 earned run average in 54 innings of work.  Curtin was 2-5 with two complete games in nine starts, struck out 30 batters and had a 5.21 ERA in 48.3 innings.

2011 Record: 13-35 overall, 10-24 GLIAC

Coaching: Lonny Allen is beginning his 21st season as the head coach of the Tiffin University baseball program. 



8. Lake Erie College

Overview:  The Storm returns a majority of its starting lineup and its entire pitching staff in 2012, but will have to fill the loss of the two most prolific offensive players in school history in Ryan Rua and Brandon James.

Lake Erie does bring back a pair of All-GLIAC bats on offense in OF Matt Toth (.400, 20 RBI, 14 SB) and Jae Leeworthy (.284, 4 HR, 25 RBI). Toth was also an all-region pick last year and is one of the top defensive outfielders in the nation. Those two will be joined in the heart of the lineup by 2B/OF Brayan Cacique (.276, 5 HR, 9 SB) and C Nick Lovick who returns after missing all of last season with a hand injury. Lovick was the team's clean-up hitter as a junior, batting .369 with six homers and 39 RBI.Regulars return at 3B (Cody Blood) and in the outfield (Zach Mosbarger, Kyle Kemp) and at the utility C/1B/DH spot (Pat Kilway) to bolster the attack.        

On the mound, junior Adam Beach returns as the team's ace after going 4-4 with 49 strikeouts in 50.2 innings a year ago. He's been the Storm's top hurler each of the last two seasons. He's joined in the rotation by sophomore Brian Kilway who had a strong freshman campaign (2-4, 3.76 ERA, 2 SVS). Veterans Michael Backes (2-2, 8 starts), Logan Nordquist (2-2, 47.1 IP) and Glenn Stweart (3-1, 6 starts) all return with plenty of starting experience. Sophomore Brad Raley (12 games) pitched primarily in relief as a freshman but is expected to join the starting staff this year.

In the bullpen, junior lefty Doug Fox emerged as the team's go-to guy in relief and earned All-GLIAC honorable mention after posting a 2.55 ERA in 17 appearances. Junior J.D. Ingalls (2 saves) is back after his season was cut short by injury and is an experienced arm at the back end. The Storm also returns veterans Mike Morgan, Jimmy Shaw, D.J. Stastny and others. Pitchers Cory Fox and Russ Hogue headline the list of recruits on the mound and infielder Sean Mathews could be in the mix on the field very early on.

2011 Record: 21-26 overall, 14-20 GLIAC

Coaching: Brian McGee is in his fifth season as the head coach at Lake Erie College.



9. Hillsdale College

Overview: The 2012 Hillsdale College baseball team will look to get back to the conference tournament for the first time since 2003, and if they are to do so, their pitching staff will lead the way.

Four starters return from 2011, and two more with significant starting experience come back from injury. Three starters return in the infield, led by Second-Team All-GLIAC first baseman Matt Pochmara. In the outfield, returning starters Pat O'Hear, Chris Stephens and Mike Vanchieri figure to make it a position of strength for Hillsdale as it heads into the new season.

2011 Record: 15-31 overall, 11-21 GLIAC

Coaching: Paul Noce is in his 19th season as the head coach of Hillsdale College.



10. University of Findlay

Overview:  The Oilers finished last season with a 15-31-1 record, which included a 12-23 mark in conference play.  Junior Tommy Roush, an honorable mention all-GLIAC pick last season, will return to lead the offense.  As a sophomore, Roush hit .354 with three home runs and 20 runs-batted-in. 

Sophomore Reid Rothenbuhler also returns to the Findlay lineup after hitting .329 with a team-high 25 runs-batted-in. 

The Oilers pitching staff will be led by sophomore’s Drew Hargrove and Derek Draper.  Hargrove returns after throwing four complete games to go along with 32 strikeouts in 44 innings of work.  Draper meanwhile posted a 1.59 earned run average from the bullpen, striking out 21 batters in 17 innings.

2011 Record: 15-31-1 overall, 10-23 GLIAC

Coaching: Troy Berry is set to begin his ninth season on the bench as the head coach at the University of Findlay.

Football Academic Teams
November 17, 2011 Football Academic Teams