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SAINT JOSEPH'S BASEBALL TEAM OPENS SEASON SATURDAY AT VCU
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
PHILADELPHIA (2/13/04) - A fresh feeling surrounds the Saint Joseph's University baseball team in 2004. With 14 first-year players on the roster and half of the coaching staff turning over during the offseason, head coach Jim Ertel's team has a new look and a new attitude. Blessed with a solid stable of capable hurlers, if the team's emerging lineup can find a way to produce offensively look for SJU to be in the mix for an Atlantic 10 playoff berth at season's end. "You know what? I am excited about this group of kids," relates Ertel. "I don't know if I have had a team that has gotten along this well or worked this hard and the new coaches have been tremendous. I really think this team is going to surprise some people." Senior Bill McCollum and juniors Brian Anecharico and Al Braun, along with sophomore Jason Volker will anchor the Hawk staff. McCollum and Anecharico dazzled during the early portion of 2003 before injuries sidelined them for large chunks of the season, while Braun and Volker used the available innings to stake their claim to spots in the rotation. A crafty lefthander, McCollum tied for the team lead in victories for the second straight season, despite having his control and innings limited by back and knee problems. When healthy early, he used pin-point accuracy and the ability to change speeds to toss a three-hit complete game win against Virginia Commonwealth and also kept #2 Florida State in check. Much like McCollum, Anecharico was spectacular early on, nearly beating both VCU and nationally-ranked Tulane, before a bout with Lyme's Disease forced him to be shut down for the season. A tremendous athlete, the righty has an above average fastball, an excellent hook and the drive to succeed. Righthanders Braun and Volker were arguably the team's top two hurlers by season's end. The squad's Most Improved Player, Braun rarely beats himself and has great poise on the hill. Volker tossed at least 5.0 innings in every start. Both gave SJU a chance to win nearly every time out. The relief corps will be led by juniors Ryan Hoagey and Joe Mucci and sophomore Ryan Stadanlick. A rubber-armed lefthander, Hoagey tortures batters with a tremendous change-up and the unorthodox Mucci's side-arming style keeps batters off balance. Stadanlick has a lazer for an arm and takes over the vacated closer's role. Also likely to contribute are sophomore Pat Santone and freshman Adriano Petrutz. Offensively, senior second baseman Jason Tarewicz and McCollum return to the right-side of the Hawk infield and along with junior leftfielder Nick Baldasari are the squad's most experienced offensive returnees. Tarewicz will lead off and despite his small stature led the team in home runs as a junior and ranked second in doubles and stolen bases. McCollum, when not on the hill will play first base and is the team's most clutch hitter, leading the team in RBI. Baldasari is SJU's top returning hitter overall and has good power. In addition to that trio, two-way performers Stadanlick and Volker will be called on to do even more this season. Perhaps the most physically gifted player in the Atlantic 10, Stadanlick shifts from shortstop to centerfield this season to take advantage of his strong arm and blazing speed. A line drive hitter, he adjusted after a slow start and is poised for a breakout season. Volker should be third base when not pitching and has all of the tools to become a top run producer. Likely to see significant time in the outfield or at DH are Joe DiNubile and Jake Iampietro. DiNubile flashes glimpses at the plate, while Iampietro is excellent defensively and possesses a good eye. Junior Bryan Brown is a heady baserunner and reliable outfielder. Behind the plate, the Hawks turn the signal caller duties over to the sophomore tandem of Greg Mason and Dustin Onulak. A number of talented rookies should push their way into the lineup early in the season. Brian Schappert is slated to take over at shortstop, while Kevin Walsh, Jeff Williams, Petrutz and Matt Godusky, the younger brother of former SJU standout Justin Godusky, all have excellent credentials. Paced by a solid pitching nucleus that doesn't beat itself, the Hawks should be in contention in nearly every game. If the Crimson and Gray can manufacture some offense look for SJU to surprise some people in the A-10 playoff chase.