As the Lourdes University baseball team returns to the diamond for the 2019 season, the Gray Wolves look to build upon their success from last year, a season which was the best in program history.
Head coach Jeremy Snow’s squad posted a school-record 22 victories on the way to a 22-23 record overall and a 13-15 mark in the Wolverine-Hoosier Conference in 2018. The Gray Wolves finished in sixth place in the league, qualifying for the WHAC tournament for the first time in school history.
Snow returns 31 players that have previously been a part of the program, while adding 17 new faces.
Starting pitching will be a key for Lourdes heading into the new campaign. Zach Brown and Braxton McKart will look to lead the starting rotation along with Liam Bloom and newcomer Santos Catanzarite. Brown logged 51 innings during the 2018 campaign, striking out 51 hitters while starting a team-high 11 games. McKart won a school-record six games for the Gray Wolves last season, fanning 38 in 46.2 innings. Bloom split his time between the rotation and the bullpen, but tossed 41.2 innings. Catanzarite arrives at Lourdes after transferring from Glen Oaks Community College where he pitched the last two years.
Kyle Rogge returns to the Gray Wolf pitching staff in 2019 after sitting out last year’s campaign. As a freshman in 2017, the right-hander led the team with three wins. He will battle for starts in an attempt to return to the rotation to open the year along with freshmen Max Lojko, Spencer Rader, and Travis Thompson.
The bullpen will be another key to the Gray Wolves’ success this season. Adam Hoyos and Jake Tucker both picked up a pair of wins in relief in 2018 and combined for three saves. Tucker had a 4.12 earned run average and Hoyos posted a 4.26 ERA, the top two marks among returning Lourdes hurlers. Ryan Kroll and Kyle Sacher both have experience pitching for the Gray Wolves, and will compete for relief roles along with newcomers Colton Borg and Tahj Smith.
Lourdes will be looking for a new starting catcher this season. Bryce Gargus hit .240 in limited action last season, but has shown an ability to handle the pitching staff and looks to have the edge on the starting job. Kevin Suttles is the only other player on the roster with experience, and will look for more playing time in his senior season. He will battle for the back-up spot along with freshmen Brandon Horman and Alex Pallottini.
The Gray Wolf infield is experienced, and should be a strength for 2019. George Pastor earned Second Team All-WHAC honors as a junior after batting .345 with 30 runs batted in as a shortstop. Glen Crabtree had a solid season at the plate as well, and returns for his senior season at the hot corner after batting .290 with a team-leading 43 RBI. Cameron Gallo also hit .345 as a sophomore while driving home 31 runs, and will be a mainstay at first base again this year.
The starting second base job is up for grabs to begin the year. Reilly Walters and Michael Davis both played in more than 30 games last year, each hitting better than .240 with the ability to steal bases. Alec Thacker is also vying for time after seeing limited action as a rookie in 2018, while Braden Halford looks to make an impact in the infield during his freshman year.
Jay Denman should lead the outfield corps this season after earning First Team All-WHAC accolades in 2018. Denman batted .410 with seven home runs and 28 runs batted in while committing just one error defensively. Cole Cantelon will shift to centerfield from right this year. He hit .252 with 20 RBI during his rookie season one year ago. Austin Oulds will join Corey Righman, Brad Ammons, and Colin Gottschalk battling for the other outfield starting job. Oulds sat out last season while Righman hit .438 with 10 RBI in limited action. Gottschalk batted .323 while Ammons got his first taste of college baseball in 2018.
Noah Childress returns to the roster after a year’s hiatus, and should be the starting designated hitter. He started 28 games in 2017, hitting .220 with eight doubles as a rookie.
The Gray Wolves open the 2019 season with two doubleheaders against Spring Arbor this fall on Oct. 19 and 20 at Mercy Field. Lourdes will then open the spring Feb. 23-24 against Saint Ambrose. The annual spring trip will head west this year to Arizona, before WHAC play begins March 23 at home against Cornerstone. This year each league school will play just one doubleheader against each other for 22 total league games. The schedule comes to a close at Concordia (Mich.) April 28 before the top six teams qualify for the WHAC tournament May 2-7.
Lourdes is poised for another exciting season on the diamond. With the Gray Wolves returning a great deal of offense from a team that batted .305, they will look to build off of last year’s postseason tournament run. Coach Snow will look to the pitching staff to make a step forward after bringing in more than 10 new arms, giving the team daily competition. If everything comes together, the Gray Wolves could move into the top half of the WHAC and finish with a record over .500 for the first time in program history.