Not much power, but plenty of hits, pitching and defense.
That’s the formula for Union head baseball coach Paul Mound, who guided the Dutchmen to their inaugural Liberty League title and first NCAA Division III tournament bid since 1965.
The 26-10-1, seventh-seeded Dutchmen, who matched last year’s program-best win total, take on second-seeded Kean University at Coburn Park in Newark Wednesday night at 7:45.
Perennial power and top-seeded SUNY-Cortland, Amherst, Rutgers-Camden, Farmingdale State, Stevens and Castleton are also in the double-elimination field.
The Dutchmen slammed just two homers on the season, but they hit a solid .301, with five players producing at least 21 RBI.
Even more impressive is the Dutchmen’s pitching staff, led by the 1-2-3 combination of Jake Fishman (7-0, 2.13 ERA), Canajoharie product Dane O’Neil (6-1, 3.11) and Andrew Beaule (6-1, 3.59). Opponents hit just .205 against Fishman and only .217 against O’Neil.
Fishman, a freshman left-hander who also plays first base, was named the Liberty League Rookie of the Year. He is second on the team in batting (.386) and has 24 RBI and 12 stolen bases.
Sam Caruso, a senior center fielder from Glens Falls who joined Fishman on the All-Liberty League first team, leads the Dutchmen in batting (.419), hits (49), runs (30) and stolen bases (20).
“We’re more of a singles and doubles team,” said Caruso. “Our job is to push each other over with sacrifice bunts and productive at-bats. I don’t think we have to rely on just one or two hitters in our lineup. Everyone can hit, and we have a great defense, too. It’s comforting when I’m in center field, knowing we have so many good pitchers on the mound.”
Other key hitters with at least 100 at-bats include freshman third baseman Kent Curran (.333, 28 RBI), senior catcher David Peretti (.310, 25 RBI), junior infielder Anders Goetz (.291, 18 RBI), senior infielder Joe Bradlee (.278, 21 RBI) and senior outfielder Vincent Esposito (.277, 1 HR, 13 RBI).
C.J. Worley, a former catcher, came on as the third baseman late in the season and added production.
Other former Capital Region scholastic standouts on the roster are freshman pitcher Greg Geisel of Shenendehowa, sophomore outfielder Eric Egan of Shaker and sophomore infielder/outfielder Chris Carbone of Amsterdam.
“We do a lot of fundamental baseball on this team,” said Mound. “I’ll do plenty of bunting when I see some defensive deficiencies in the other team’s defense — it’s a lost art — but one of the things that is different about this team is that we have much better production up and down the lineup. Last year’s team, we focused more in the top four or five guys in the lineup. We are a lot deeper offensively this year.”
Mound also brought up the fact that O’Neil, who has been his ace the last several years, has been pitching all season with a strained oblique muscle, but has still gotten the job done.
And then there is Fishman.
“Fishman is an outstanding athlete. He’s a special kid,” Mound said. “He’s a great pitcher and hitter who will play for the Brockton Rocks this summer in the Futures League.”
Mound, who learned the game under former Amsterdam High School coach Brian Mee, brought plenty of baseball experience when he joined the Union coaching staff. He posted a 483-151 as coach of the Saratoga Stampede in American Legion ball and has also helped develop numerous players for the Saratoga Central Catholic High School team since 2007.
After serving as an assistant to former coach Gary Reynolds for the second half of the 2010 season, Mound took over the head coaching duties in 2011, when he led the Dutchmen to a 14-19 record (10-14 Liberty League). The Dutchmen improved to 18-22 in 2012 and were 26-13 last season, when he was named the Liberty League coach of the year.