2004 Hilbert Baseball Team Looks to Defend NEAC Tourney Crown
- Release Date:
- March 3, 2004
- The Office of Sports Information
- (716) 649-7900 ext. 333
March 5, 2004
HAMBURG, N.Y. - The Hilbert College baseball team finished the 2003 season with an 11-20 record and the title of North Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament champs after sweeping four straight games on their home diamond last May. Second-year head coach Sam Rutkowski has brought in some talented additions to go with a strong returning group to make another run at the NEAC title.
"We are deeper and definitely more talented than a year ago," said Rutkowski. "'We have set a goal to win the NEAC regular season title and are striving for post-season play in trying to reach the ECAC playoffs."
The Hawks are led by 2003 NEAC Tournament MVP Sam Gioia (West Seneca West/West Seneca, NY), who will lead a young group of infielders from the shortstop position. The junior will be counted on to come out of the bullpen and serve as a closer, as well as improve on his .333 batting average from the plate. Junior second baseman Tim Gornikiewicz (Dunkirk/Dunkirk, NY) will also be used on the mound. Gornikiewicz pitched 19 innings last spring and hit .333 while seeing action in 18 games. Sophomore third baseman Brian Murray (St. Mary's/Elma, NY) adds a solid glove and could be the everyday starter after impressing the coaching staff during fall workouts. Senior captain Cory Lindsley (Pioneer/Yorkshire, NY) collected 27 hits last season and will likely see time at first base and will join Gioia as the other closer.
Other infielders looking to contribute are junior college transfer Paul Cierechowicz (Lackawanna/Lackawanna, NY), senior Dave Sanders (Liverpool/Liverpool, NY), sophomore Steve Fowler (Orchard Park/Orchard Park, NY), and freshmen Tom Czora (St. Mary's/Lancaster, NY) and Josh Cahall (Ripley/Ripley, OH).
The Hawks possess a group of talented outfielders led by 2003 All-NEAC First Team selection Wally Skrzynski (Lancaster/Lancaster, NY). Voted the team's MVP last spring, Skrzynski collected 29 hits and led the 2003 Hawks with three homeruns while hitting .326. Sophomore speedster Joe Ferrara (Frontier/Hamburg, NY) returns to the outfield, where in 2003 he drew a team-high 18 walks in 26 games before a season ending leg injury forced him out of the lineup. Finger Lakes Community College transfer Bill Guthrie (Waterloo/Waterloo, NY), sophomore Matt Markott (Lake Shore/Angola, NY), and freshman Glen Ufland (Bishop Timon/Buffalo, NY) have all been impressive and will see time according to coach Rutkowski.
Junior catcher Tim Parsell (Silver Creek/Silver Creek, NY) returns behind the plate where he started 30 games last season. Parsell hit .283 and will look to improve upon his team leading 26 strikeouts. Sophomore Jason Franklin (Orchard Park/Orchard Park, NY), an NEAC All-Academic selection last year, provides depth and can also be used on the mound where he pitched 11 innings last spring. Parsell could also be spelled by newcomers John Rajewski (Depew/Lancaster, NY) or Mike McDonald (Batavia/Batavia, NY), who has the ability to throw stikes as a pitcher if needed.
On the mound for the Hawks will be junior right-hander Frank Morasco (Jordan-Eldridge/Memphis, NY), freshman left-hander Brenden Mullen (Oakfield-Alabama/Oakfield, NY), and freshman right-hander Tim Downey (Niagara Wheatfield/Sanborn, NY). Morasco pitched 33 innings to post a 4-2 record last season with 3 saves. Mullen and Downey have shown poise and confidence and will be ready come opening day if needed. Sophomore right-hander Adam Koniniec (Depew/Depew, NY) was 2-1 with a save in 2003 and will also see time in the rotation.
Freshmen looking to make an impact include lefty Dustin Riker (Frontier/Blasdell, NY) and right handers Kevin Quinn (Bishop Timon/Buffalo, NY) and McDonald, the back-up catcher.
The Hawks will open the 2004 season on the road March 24 at Penn State Behrend. The first home game is scheduled at 1 p.m. April 4 against the University of Rochester.
Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.