January 27, 2010
2010 Season - Young baseball team look to continue success
Despite absorbing some fairly heavy losses from the 2009 season, veteran Augustana head coach Greg Wallace is optimistic heading into the 2010 baseball campaign. He is looking at a team that he calls “fundamentally sound” and he believes that his young Vikings will be able to hold their own once again. Past history says that he should be correct in his assessment as he has accumulated a record of 356-162 in his previous 12 seasons at the helm of his alma mater.
“We will have the same expectations as we have when we start every year,” said Wallace, who has guided Augustana to three NCAA tournament appearances since 1999. “We are a little younger, no question about that, and we will work hard to get this team to come around quickly.”
Last year the Vikings went 23-17 overall and were 10-10 in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. That snapped a four year run of 30-plus victories per season. During his tenure as the Augustana head coach, Wallace’s teams have won at least 30 games a total of seven times and have never won less than 23 games in a single season.
“This is a very talented group and they worked hard in the fall and have been very committed in the off-season,” he said. “Fundamentally, we are very sound and that will carry us to a lot of success. We also have some depth in some key positions and that is always a plus.”
The top four pitchers in terms of innings logged are back to take the hill for the Vikings. Senior Matt Erickson (Marmion Academy, Channahon, Ill.) saw the most action in 2009 with 11 starts and 66 2/3 innings worked. He posted a 4-4 record and a 6.48 earned run average and led the team in strikeouts with 57. He is 17-7 during his career at Augustana with an ERA of 4.57. Currently he is fourth on the school’s career strikeout list with 162 and he is 10th in both victories (17) and innings pitched (181 1/3). Fellow senior Mike Pagano (Niles Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) struggled with some arm trouble last year but still managed to go 5-2 with a 4.33 earned run average in 35 1/3 innings. He posted 30 strikeouts and logged 10 appearances.
Junior Grant Loiselle (Bloomington Central Catholic HS, Normal, Ill.) was 3-0 with a 4.10 earned run average in 37 1/3 innings last year. He struck out 42 and had a team high three complete games. Sophomore Mike Trotta (Niles Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) earned a spot in the starting rotation midway through the season and he finished the year with a 1-3 record and a 5.01 ERA. He had 27 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings of work.
Another who will be counted on to handle some innings will be junior Vince Frede (St. Charles East HS, St. Charles, Ill.). Frede was 1-1 with a 0.46 ERA in 19 2/3 innings last year and 17 strikeouts before his season ended early due to injury.
“We also will be relying on some younger guys to handle some innings for us,” said Wallace. “We have confidence in guys like Erickson, Pagano, Loiselle, Trotta and Frede to do the bulk of the work but we have some talented others who will be asked to contribute as well.”
Junior T.J. O’Donnell (New Trier HS, Northbrook, Ill.), senior Jarl Dahlgren (Rockford Auburn HS, Rockford, Ill.) and freshman Jim Sandberg (J.K. Mullen HS, Littleton, Colo.) will battle for the catching position. O’Donnell appeared in 24 games last year and batted .310 with 22 hits in 71 at-bats and had five doubles, five home runs and 25 runs-batted-in. He also threw out three of seven base runners attempting to steal. Dahlgren appeared in six games last year and had two hits in five at-bats.
There will be some new faces in the infield as only sophomore Joe Moran (Niles Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) and junior Dave Hoffman (Cary Grove HS, Fox River Grove, Ill.) return. Moran should handle things at second base while Hoffman will be at third base. Moran broke into the lineup late last year and hit .392 with 20 hits in 51 at-bats while scoring 17 runs. Hoffman has been a three year regular and he was a first team all-conference performer last year after he batted .363 (58-160) with 13 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 31 RBI. He was third on the team in runs scored with 34. There is a collection of younger player who are vying for playing time at shortstop and first base.
In the outfield junior Mike Lamb (Ottawa Township HS, Ottawa, Ill.) and sophomores Mike Barker (Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo. – now resides in Marina Del Rey, Calif.), Kevin Serna (Rolling Meadows HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Anthony Concialdi (Fremd HS, Barrington, Ill.) will battle for the three open positions. Lamb hit .375 with 21 hits in 56 at-bats and had five doubles, one triple and one home run. He scored 20 runs and had 16 RBI. Barker played in 29 games and hit .232 while Serna played in 15 games and Concialdi did not see any varsity action on 2009.
“I like this group,” said Wallace. “They have been very easy to work with and have been very attentive. We are going to get tested early in the season as six of our first 11 games are against teams that were in the NCAA tournament last year.”