SPORTS – The VOICE Campus and Local News Since 1968 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:51:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Women’s Soccer: freshmen shine in wet season opener Fri, 01 Sep 2017 04:25:56 +0000

Chilling rain and 13 mph winds weren’t enough to dampen Mercer’s first major home game for the women’s soccer team this past Tuesday night. Second-year head coach Elyse Diamond led the team to their first win of the season against Buck’s County College with a score of 3-1.

Coming into her second year Diamond had the task of preparing the team for opening night with a different line up from the squad that nearly reached the Region 19 championship in 2016. Turnover stripped out several key playmakers from last season. In the midst of wet conditions and an early deficit, the group of freshmen making their Mercer debuts set the pace.

One thing that coach Diamond said was not a concern heading into the game was the motivation of her players. 

Photo: Jasmine Santalla

Jackie Gummel Sophomore from MCCC #15 and Gabrielle Torres from Buck’s CC #21

“They were self-motivated because it was the first game of the season. We’ve been practicing for the last three weeks, so they were excited and pumped up.” Diamond told The VOICE. “I didn’t really have to say much, they were ready.”

That motivation, however, did not translate into early success as passing efficiency was a weak point.

“It was not the best conditions,” Diamond said. “It affected our passing game for sure.”

Mercer failed to score on their first four shots of the game and 41 minutes into the game they found themselves in 1-0 hole after Bucks forward Brooklynn Smith brought the ball down field to score unassisted.

But the Bucks lead only held for 1:15 minutes when Mercer freshman Karli Garzillo scored the tying goal.

“[After] they scored first, those two minutes you’re supposed to push back push back, you can’t let down, I think we countered very well, I think I was just in the right place at the right time.” Garzillo said

Garzillo’s offensive efforts continued toward the end of the first half as she recorded an assist on the go ahead goal by fellow freshmen Taylor Mastropasqua.

“I thought [Karli] hit it in but it actually deflected off the defender” Mastropasqua said.

Coach Diamond, having served as Garzillo’s soccer coach from the days of youth soccer camp through all four years at Nottingham High School, said the performance was solid considering Garzillo had been away from the game for a year. 

“I’ve known Karli since she was a baby. I know what she’s capable of.” Diamond said.

At the half, Mercer had a 2-1 lead, but the sky was darker and rain heavier.

The second half of the game was marked by the efforts in defense. 

Mary McDermott, Mercer freshman, and Allentown, NJ native, was key in securing the win in the second half. 

“We transitioned on defense. We started in a flat back for this game, and we’ve been staying close, not more than ten feet apart from each other.” McDermott told The VOICE. She continued, “A lot of communication has to go on back there. From us talking we really picked up on switching and who has who.”

After playing her entire high school career as an offensive forward player for Allentown, Coach Diamond had McDermott make the transition to a defensive backfield player.

“I saw her size and I just knew we had to put her on defense. She covers a lot of ground for us.” Diamond said.

But McDermott was still able to put her offensive experience as well as her height advantage to use. In the final ten minutes with Mercer holding on to a one point lead, McDermott scored goal with a header off an assist by sophomore Kellyann Krepp.

“I knew I had the height on the team, and I knew that Kelly had the foot. They always send me in from the back so I knew if I made the run and Kelly had the good foot that I could beat them and get there for the goal.” McDermott told to The VOICE.

Bucks head coach Matthew Giordano praised Mercer’s performance telling The VOICE, “The way we looked at this game is ‘let’s use this as training’ because this is probably one of the better teams we’re going to see all year, as far as the teams that we play against. So that’s kinda what we’re using this game for.” 

With a roster of 12 freshmen out of the 18 total players, the coach and players agree that learning team chemistry will be an area of focus in their effort to make a run at the Region 19 playoffs.

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Vikings baseball team offers season ending excitement Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:57:32 +0000

In a semester that’s been plagued by sex offenders, rising tuition, and questionable awards, Mercer students may find a bit of solace in a baseball team that has brought real acclaim to the college.

The Vikings split a two game series against third ranked Lackawanna on Sunday April 23, bringing their record to 35-11 and another day closer to the junior college world series.

Freshman Erik Bowren, team captain says, “We’re 45 games in right now, it’s been a long season but were starting to hit our stride. [There’s] definitely a lot of energy in the dugout and we saw that yesterday for sure.”

Behind an offensive explosion, and a solid outing by sophomore pitcher Dennis Brady the Vikings were able to take care of Lackawanna in game one of the series by a score of 11-2. However they fell short of a sweep with a 5-2 loss later that afternoon.

With Mercer currently the second seed in the state rankings and Lackawanna currently ranked third, there was a greater emphasis on these two games, particularly for the Vikings after already getting swept by  top ranked Morris last weekend. Regardless, both teams acknowledged the importance of these two games, as there is a high likelihood that these two teams will meet again in May.

Head coach for Lackawanna, Bruce Thompson, told The VOICE, “We know Mercer is a really good program, they have a history of success, we know that every time we come to [this] campus we’re gonna be in for a dogfight.”

The Vikings will now get to finish off the regular season with five of their last seven games at home, an advantage much appreciated by Mercer’s players as it gives them ample time to rest, and the student body an opportunity to catch a game as the weather improves.

According to sophomore starting pitcher, Andrew DiPiazza, “A lot of games away to start off the season because we like to finish up towards the end of the season at home so we get a lot of rest.”

The Vikings will welcome any advantage they can get for this final stretch of games. With playoff seeding on the line the weight of each win is magnified with every passing game. “Every game matters, our goal is to win a national championship. The NJCAA now seeds the world series record, strength of schedule and momentum all factor into those rankings.

Head coach Kevin Kerins says, “It is very important to be healthy, rest and playing well for regional weekend.”

As the semester comes to a close as well, the coming weeks are likely to bring some excitement to Mercer’s campus, and in the wake of several undesirable circumstances that Mercer has endured this spring, Vikings baseball may serve as a welcome distraction.

Coach Kerins says: “As an alumni and former player at mercer I can tell you that mercer is a special place. I myself have used my experiences here to springboard to opportunities that were not available to me out of high school. We are building something unique and special with our baseball program here. Though the playoffs are entirely on the road this season we are hopeful we can continue to bring positive attention and national recognition to the college and our student athletes.”

The team will be wrapping up the regular season on May 4 for their final home game against Anne Arundel, and post season play will begin Friday May 12 at a venue that has yet to be determined.

Softball team rides ten game streak into post season Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:34:45 +0000

Mercer’s Vikings softball team finished up the regular season with a win against Ocean County on Friday April 21. They head into the postseason coming off a 10 game win streak and a total regular season record of 32-6.

Despite the obstacle of having to rebuild the team on two year rotations, the program has managed to maintain an exceptional level of performance on a consistent basis.

Sophomore catcher Tatum Marshall told The VOICE: “It’s definitely difficult because you create a bond with one set of girls and then you have to create a new bond and then you have to get used to everybody. For life, you’re learning that people are going to come and go and you have to adapt to others and the change.”

When asked how the program is able to maintain a talented roster year after year, head coach Ryan Zegarski attributed the program’s effectiveness to the scouting the athletic department does in the offseason.

“When you do your work in the offseason it makes your in season very very easy.” Zegarski said, adding, “If you recruit and do your due diligence and bring in these student athletes then you should have an easy in season.”

The Vikings begin postseason play on Saturday April 29 against Del Tech in the region 19 playoffs.

Snyder puts Avengers on ice in Vikings home opener Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:56:08 +0000

Mercer County Community College’s baseball team got to play on home turf for the first time on Thursday, March 23.

The Vikings kicked off their homestand with a 10-1 victory over the ASA Avengers. They returned from their week-long road trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to cold, wet weather that caused a postponement of their first two home games against Rockland Community College and Brookdale Community College

However, head coach Kevin Kerins told The VOICE he believes that the weather has worked to the team’s advantage as it gave them the opportunity to rest after the energy sucking time spent playing in Myrtle Beach, where the team went 5-3.

“It has been cold unfortunately, but we play through it, this recent snow storm hit at a good time, we were able to fly back from Myrtle Beach and it also gave us nice break upon return to recover. We only lost 2 games, which have been rescheduled,” Kerins said.

Kerins also thinks the additional obstacle of playing in unusual conditions will build up his team’s mental toughness and endurance.

“In January and early February it can be tough [because] we have [a] long season and we put [a] lot of time, practicing indoors, on turf, field, outside in cold can wear on guys, but I also think it makes our guys mentally strong.  Our players know we are working toward something special each season and being flexible with practice plans, game locations and times is part of process,” Kerins said.

Sophomore infielder Gabe Castillo got the Vikings on the board early with his first homerun of the season in the bottom of the first inning.

Castillo said, “We were just all trying to do something for the team, came back ready, got a couple of days off, came back and put some hits together.”

Sophomore infielder Erik Bowren contributed a home run of a different fashion by hitting an inside the park, two run homerun in the bottom of the sixth, which put the Vikings ahead of ASA by eight.

Bowren told The VOICE, “It was good to get that one today. It gets your adrenaline going for sure. Off the bat I had a feeling it was probably gonna be three, but then I was coming around second and I saw the coach just kinda keep waving me and I thought if he was gonna keep waving then I’m just gonna go. It was a bang-bang play, but lucky for us I was safe.”

Another noteworthy performances of the game was that of freshman starting pitcher Nick Snyder. Snyder improved to a perfect 4-0 on the season by throwing a shutout five inning performance featuring ten strikeouts, only one short of his season high. Snyder told The VOICE he thought it was his strongest outing of the year, though he gave up seven hits and three walks, as well as pitching in  a first and second no-out jam in the top of the second inning. Still, Snyder was ultimately able to keep the Avengers off the board for five innings.

Snyder told The VOICE, “When I get into jams like that it almost seems like the game slows down a bit, my intensity and focus goes up, and I think that really helped me get out of those jams. Just slowing it down and really figuring out how to get out of those jams.”

ASA’s only run of the game came in the seventh inning with the Vikings already up by nine.

With the team’s longest trip of the season now behind them they were able to open up a seven game homestand, with what Bowren says was a crucial win: “Being the home opener and stuff in the cold weather, we wanted to come out here and get a win. They’re a great team with a lot of talent, so we just wanted to get out there as a team and play some good team baseball and we did that today.”

The Vikings have improved to 13-4 on the season, which puts them one step further on their goal of a return trip to the NJCAA World Series.

Vikings baseball looking for back to back World Series appearances Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:04:26 +0000

Sophomore starting pitcher, Denny Brady, made his Mercer debut on Sunday, February 19 when the Vikings won in the season opener against the Dukes of Cumberland, 9-6. Brady, a transfer from South Carolina, made it through four solid innings giving up one earned run and five strikeouts.

Brady’s only earned run of the day came in the first inning on an RBI double by Cumberland third baseman, Mitch Walker. But the the Viking offense took over the game, putting up 9 runs off 16 hits giving their transfer pitcher solid run support in his first outing.

When asked for comment about the winning game, Brady said, “As soon as the run scored I said to myself that’s the last one they’re gonna score. I feel like that’s really the mentality you have to have especially when you get to college baseball, because if you worry about that run then they’re gonna take advantage of it.”

“I wouldn’t say I had my best stuff… but the guys behind me are great guys and they’re always pushing me, and it’s hard to throw bad when you got a team of guys on your back.” Brady said.

Cumberland would come back to tie the game 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, but a solo home run by freshman infielder, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Millet, put the Vikings back on top heading into the seventh inning stretch.

“I was looking for a good pitch middle-in that I could do some damage with,” Millet said. “I worked myself into a two strike count, so I was just trying to put the ball into play. The pitcher left his fastball high, I put a good swing to it and the ball left the yard.”

Millet’s home run would spearhead a rally that put the Vikings ahead late for an assuring 9-6 opening day win.

Looking ahead, sixth year head coach, Kevin Kerins will be leading a team with some lofty expectations in 2017 as they try to get back in the NJCAA World Series for the second straight year. According to a poll on, The Vikings are the third ranked team in Division II.

“We are counting on our sophomores and top end pitching to lead us, the expectations have never been higher and with those expectations comes pressure, how we respond to positives and negatives that come our way throughout the season will determine our success.” Coach Kerins told The VOICE.

Kerins says he believes the key to his team’s success lies in the maturity and experience of his players. With much of the team’s roster having already played deep into the tournament a season ago, the pressure of a big spot is a distant memory.

Sophomore outfielder, Anthony Boselli, agrees with this, saying: “The strength of our lineup I would say is that we just have a lot of experience, and a lot of [offensive] power.”

Roster turnover has been kind to the Vikings this offseason with most of last years starting lineup returning. The team will however have a hole at catcher with Rob Boselli transferring to St. John’s this past fall.

  “I think our biggest loss from last year would be Austin Constantini and Rob Boselli, both were captains and tremendous performers under pressure and in post season. Austin is now playing at LaSalle and Rob is playing at St. John’s.” Coach Kerins says.

Defensively the pitching staff will be led by top starters, Brady and sophomore, Andrew DiPiazza.

According to, DiPiazzi pitched to a tune of a 12-1 record as a starter last year with 109 strikeouts and an ERA of only 1.50. As it stands DiPiazza would be the Vikings opening day starter.

Brady, a transfer from Coastal Carolina, is already committed to playing at Old Dominion in 2018, but will lend his arm to the Vikings in their 2017 campaign.

Coach Kerins say, “We are counting on Andrew Dipiazza, Denny Brady, Anthony Peroni, Erik Bowren, Vinny Vaccone and Jordan Gonzales to be emotional and on-field leaders for us.” 

According to, the team is coming off of a school record 51 win season in 2016, and fell a game away from reaching the championship bracket.

“We all just want to win,” Boselli says. “Last year we finished third in the country, this year we’re all just trying to get back to the World Series and win it.”

But the team still has the rest of the regular season ahead of them before they get that opportunity. They will be tested by a demanding 54 game schedule that features a high degree of competition.

“As a coaching staff we make an effort to play the best teams around the country and also travel and challenge our team. We put an emphasis on our regional/conference games as they get us the opportunity to play in the postseason. Our non region schedule is loaded against talented teams and many of which played in College World Series or Regionals last year,” Kerins says.

Mercer women’s soccer welcomes new coach Mon, 31 Oct 2016 20:12:21 +0000

Mercer women’s soccer team began this year’s season with new coach, Elyse Diamond.             

Elyse Diamond is a familiar face in Hamilton, as a 1984 alumna of MCCC; she still holds the record for most goals scored (118 in two seasons). She then went on to play for a year at Rutgers University. Not only does Elyse Diamond have experience from playing, but she also has experience from coaching at Nottingham High School for 25 years thereafter. Her two daughters have also attended the college and played in the program, most recently Katie Diamond, who completed her second season last fall.

 When asked what influenced her decision to come to Mercer, Coach Diamond said that it was timing. “I was ready to end my career at Nottingham and I was going to renew my high school refereeing license when this opportunity arose.”

According to forward and second year Radiology major, Giselle Chica: “[Coach Diamond] is a very positive person. Her positive attitude puts us in a good mood and makes us look forward to practices and games,”

Midfielder and second year exercise major, Cassidy Denno adds, “[She’s] very approachable and is so easy to talk to; she understands that school comes first and is always there if we need help.” They each also talked about the mother-like quality of the new coach, and how she takes the time to get to know each girl in and out, in order to expand the team’s strengths.

Team fans are also quick to praise the new coach. Carlos Vasquez of Hamilton said, “She radiates positive energy and is a very calm, collected person which shows through this team. She’s a good coach because she’s able to see potential in a player before they can see it in themselves.”

Some fans like Mani Kissling, second year Liberal Arts major, knew Coach Diamond’s background and added; “[Being a former player] allows her to know the different levels of play as well as the different aspects of the game; she’ll rise to the challenge.” The team’s record of 10-1 suggests that is accurate.

Athletic Director, John Simone welcomed Elyse Diamond as new head coach of the Vikings. She will also serve as a team athletic trainer. Simone says he has high hopes for Diamond, adding, “Success is measured over time not only by performance but by academia, coaching leadership, and the quality of student athletes at Mercer.”

Coach Kerins helps baseball team continue to thrive Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:50:38 +0000

Kevin KerinsSince moving from assistant to head baseball coach in 2012, Kevin Kerins has had a powerful effect on the team. Over the past four years, Mercer’s season records have steadily increased from 29 wins in 2012, to last season’s record-setting 40 and 8, which included a trip to the Division Two World Series.

Currently sitting at 25 and 9 on the year, this season’s group is making the success continue.

“We have several games coming up as well as the postseason,” said Kerins, who is, himself, a former Mercer student athlete.

After graduating from Steinert High School, Kerins attended Mercer in 2000 and played on the baseball team during his only semester on the West Windsor campus. After leaving Mercer, Kerins attended The College of New Jersey where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Technology Education, and later obtained his masters degree from Ball State University in 2007.

Now working as a teacher at Edison High School in Edison, New Jersey, Kerins told The VOICE in a recent interview that he believes being a former student athlete as well as an educator gives him a unique perspective on those he educates.

“I understand the academic components necessary to be successful and the challenges student athletes face.” Kerins said.

Subsequently, Kerins has been able to use teaching models from both in the classroom and on the field to further help the student athletes he associates with,

“Our baseball program and academic plan is constantly evolving, and player specific.” said Kerins.Quote from John Simone

“Over the past two seasons, we’ve had a 97 percent academic retention rate in our baseball program.” Kerins added.

But Kerins’ hard work on and off the baseball diamond has not only had a positive effect on the team’s overall success, it has also earned him some hardware.

Following Mercer’s 2014 season, Kerins took home his second straight Region 19 Coach of the Year award, as well as the Northeast Coach of the Year award.

Kerins’ success as coach has garnered the attention both from his competitor teams and from his own home athletics department.

“He has first-hand experience of how the team should be run,” Mercer Athletic Director John Simone told The VOICE. He continued, saying: “He has a good vision of how he wants the program to be viewed and maintained, and works hard and pays attention to detail.”

Kerins says coaching the team is his dream job.

He says, “As a player and coach, my experiences here have taught me to challenge myself everyday, and constantly build and grow towards the future.”

Mercer County Community College Baseball still alive in JUCO World Series, sets new record for wins Wed, 28 May 2014 21:19:06 +0000

After suffering a walk-off loss 3-2 on Sunday Mercer Baseball bounced back yesterday with a 5-2 victory over Vincennes University of Indiana to stay alive in the double elimination format for the National Junior College Athletic Association Div.II World Series held in Enid, Oklahoma.

The win was the Vikings 40th (40-7), marking the first time the Mercer Baseball Program has reached 40 wins in school history. The victory also gives the Vikes a chance to avenge Sunday’s loss as they play a rematch against Pasco-Hernando State of Florida at 4:30 PM ET today.

The loss to Pasco came  in the bottom of the 10th inning of the first game of the tournament for both teams when PHS centerfielder Alex Pridee lined a two-out double into the right field corner that eluded a diving Joe Santospago. The ball squirted away from Santospago into foul territory allowing catcher Alex Ramsey to score from first with the winning run.

Similar to Fenway Park in Boston, the right field fence in Enid wraps around in a semicircle before squaring in the corner, meeting up with the stands in foul territory. “This ball park has lots of quirks to it,” Mercer Head Coach Kevin Kerins told The VOICE, “that right field corner is very tricky as we learned.”

Santospago atoned for Sunday’s mishap by making a leaping catch against the wall in that same right field corner yesterday to rob Vincennes leftfielder Logan Coughlin of a home run in the bottom of the 9th.

Reliever Charlie Morreale got the next hitter to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.

The freshmen Santospago went one for three offensively with a home run in the bottom of the 8th to give Mercer some insurance heading to the 9th.

Santospago was not sure the ball would go out off of the bat, “I really didn’t get it all, but I got a little air under it and it carried,” the freshmen said of his home run, adding, “the ball travels differently in this park.”

Santospago thought his positioning helped him make the catch in the 9th as he told The VOICE , “I was playing deeper than normal,” he said, adding, “my adrenaline was pumping and I was able to make the catch.”

Sophomore right-hander Ben Stine earned the win going 8+ innings allowing two earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Stine improved his record to 8-1 on the year sporting a 2.35 earned run average, with 59 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched.

Today Kerins sends right-hander Joe DiGiovanni to the mound against Pasco in his first start at the NJCAA World Series as the “win or go home” scenario means the Vikings will play everyday until they are defeated or a champion is crowned.

If the Vikes are able to keep winning they will pitch freshmen Matt Gall tomorrow, and Charlie Morreale on Friday, lining up ace Heath Fillmyer for the championship game.

The depth of the pitching staff will be tested, but Kevin Kerins is not concerned, he feels his team has been groomed for this challenge, “I believe we have the deepest pitching staff here,” he said.

Mercer County Community College Takes on Cecil College in the NJCAA Super Regional Tournament Sat, 17 May 2014 14:48:13 +0000

Mercer Baseball is now two wins away from the Junior College World Series after winning the Region 19 Championship 17-3 over rival Lackawanna on Sunday.

The Vikings begin the Super Regional Tournament today at home in West Windsor with two games against Region 20 Champion Cecil College of Maryland (34-22) who swept a doubleheader from ninth ranked Frederick College to advance .

Cecil is the last team standing between the Vikings and a trip to the Junior College World Series in Enid, Oklahoma next weekend, with their best-of-three series beginning today with Game 1 at 11 a.m. and Game 2 at 2 p.m. If a third game is necessary it would take place tomorrow with the time to be determined.

The region championship-clinching win came after an emotional loss to Lackawanna in 12 innings on Saturday 7-5 after Mercer took a 3-2 lead into the top of the 9th.

Head Coach Kevin Kerins talked about his team’s resilience, “I think it shows character,” Kerins said of the bounceback win, adding, “we lose an emotional championship game in extra innings and then come back and play our best game of year in the biggest spot.”

Mercer enters the Super Regions with confidence after the release of the ALL-Region team listed five Vikings players including first teamers Heath Fillmyer (sophomore), Ben Stine (sophomore), Dave Osnato (freshmen), and Joe Santospago (freshmen) with Eddie Ashley (freshmen) voted the second team.

Third year Head Coach Kevin Kerins was named Region 19 Coach of the Year.

Heath Fillmyer will start the first game today with Ben Stine starting Game 2.

Fillmyer, the ace of the Vikings pitching staff, won Region 19 Player of the Year after posting an 8-0 record with the best earned run average (ERA) in the nation at 0.69 with 73 strikeouts (Ks) in 52 innings pitched (IP).

Although Fillmyer is the clear no.1 starter, sophomore right-hander Ben Stine has played the role of 1.A. masterfully. Stine is 7-1 this year with a 2.34 ERA with 51 Ks and five complete games in 61.2 IP. Stine committed to D-1 Virginia Commonwealth University this week where he will play next season on an athletic scholarship.

The Vikings won two out of three regular season matchups against Cecil with Fillmyer and Stine earning the two victories in a doubleheader played on March 10. Fillmyer went five strong innings allowing only two hits while surrendering no runs with 8 Ks in a 12-0 Vikings win.

Stine matched Fillmyer’s strikeout and inning totals allowing five hits and one earned run in a 2-1 win. The future VCU Ram gave The VOICE his scouting report for today’s opponent, “This team likes to club it around the park so we have a big field and a great defense behind me so making them put the ball in play and no free passes are key,” Stine said.

Stine has better than a 2-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season with 23 walks. He told The VOICE he will continue to manage hitters by keeping his pitches on target, “Location is important and if you get a head on these guys and put them away you should be effective,” Stine said.

Coach Kevin Kerins is impressed by all the accolades his Vikings have earned this year, but he cautions that not all goals have been met, “I am very happy for our players and its nice to be acknowledged, however our focus is on getting to the world series,” Kerins said.

Freshmen Joe Santospago doesn’t want the series to make it to a third game, “We want to win both games today, “ Santospago said, adding “we really don’t want to let it go to tomorrow, but we are going to take it game by game.”

The Vikings continue to play well after losing their best offensive producer Dave Osnato to a broken finger in the regular season finale against Lackawanna. The freshman catcher hit .434 in 2014 with 6 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Kerins said of Osnato’s status, “Dave is most likely out for remainder of season, but he will be reevaluated on May 24.”

May 24 would be the day the JUCO World Series is slated to begin, weather permitting.

Freshmen Greg Santora has stepped up in Osnato’s place, providing solid defense behind the dish and he added an RBI at the plate in the championship win over Lackawanna.

With arguably the most talented roster top to bottom in school history the Vikings need all hands on deck today against Cecil.

Kerins stated that his team would not get wrapped up in personal recognition, “individual accolades are nice but we want our players to have the experience of competing in the biggest stage in JUCO baseball. That is our main focus.”

Junior College World Series in Vikings’ sights after best season on record for Mercer County Community College Mon, 05 May 2014 18:26:47 +0000

baseballAfter having their final week of games washed away by rain the Vikings finished the 2014 regular season ranked No. 3 in the final national polls for Div.II with a 33-6 record, the best in school history.

Mercer will begin their playoff run as the top seed in the Region 19 Tournament with two games on Friday in Georgetown, Delaware.

In the first game Mercer takes on 4th seeded tournament host Delaware-Tech Owens (23-18) at 10 am. The matchup comes three weeks after Mercer took both games of a doubleheader from Del-Tech, winning 3-2 and 5-2 respectively with Heath Fillmyer and Ben Stine getting the wins.

Fillmyer will start one of the two games Friday in what will be his first outing since April 23 when the right-hander surrendered the only two earned runs he allowed this season putting his earned run average at 0.42 for 2014 over 43 innings with a staggering 66 strikeouts.

The sophomore captain, and criminal justice major, finished second in the nation in earned run average to UCONN-Avery Point’s Baylor LaPointe who’s 0.26 earned run average came in eight fewer innings pitched.

According to Head Coach Kevin Kerins Ben Stine and Fillmyer will start Friday, but the order in which they will pitch is yet to be determined.

Stine gutted through six innings in his last start of the year in a loss to Lackawanna in which he gave up five earned runs on nine hits including two home runs, but preserved arms for the rest of the staff heading into the postseason.

The start was not representative of Stine’s season statistically however as he finished the year with a 2.30 earned run average in 54.2 innings pitched with 46 strikeouts.

The second game for Mercer Friday will be played against either no. 3 seed Morris (24-13) or noo. 2 seed Lackawanna (26-14) depending on the outcome of the opening games. The Vikings swept a doubleheader from Morris on April 6, outscoring the Titans 12-1 in the only games played between the two teams this season.

The Vikings also split a doubleheader against Lackawanna April 26 in what turned out to be the ball club’s final two regular season games. Their victory in Game 2 clinched the number one overall seed in the Region 19 Tournament.

Freshman outfielder Eddie Ashley told The VOICE, “our goal the whole year was to get home field advantage and we got it with that win, it was a big win for us.”

The region tournament is the first hurdle the Vikings need cleared in order to make it to the JUCO World Series held in Enid, Oklahoma, May 24-29. Capturing the top seed in the region makes Mercer the home team for the entire region tournament, which guarantees them the last at bat in each game.

If Mercer is fortunate enough to make it through the regions they will host the the Region 20 champion in the Super Regional Tournament games on the West Windsor Campus. Mercer posted a 15-2 home record in 2014 which could improve their chances of defeating the region 20 champ to get to Enid.

Kevin Kerins spoke of the importance of the No. 1 seed, “I think being home team throughout the playoffs is huge, but more importantly we get the bye…we have some guys banged up so we will take the time to regroup and get ready.”

If the Vikes are able to make it to Enid they will do so without their most productive offensive player in freshman catcher Dave Osnato. Osnato hit .434 this year with 6 home runs and 32 runs batted in, leading his team in all three categories and ranking in the top 20 nationally in batting average (19th) and a .681 slugging percentage (16th). The freshman was also selected to the NJCAA national team set to compete in the National Baseball Congress World Series in July.

Osnato suffered a broken right middle finger after being hit by a pitch in the loss to Lackawanna. The break required surgery for Osnato on Wednesday where, according to the criminal justice major, two pins were placed in the finger to stabilize it, but he is unsure of his status for the postseason.

The former Hamilton West Hornet is not counting out the possibility of playing should the Vikings make it to Oklahoma though, “If I had to tell you right now if I would be healthy enough to play I would like to say yes…I don’t think it’s set in stone, I’ll do everything I can to get ready, but I can’t say for sure.”

Catching in his stead will be freshman Greg Santora who relieved Osnato against Lackawanna displaying his skills defensively by throwing out a runner to cut down a Falcons rally.

Coach Kerins said of Santora, “Greg did a great job coming in for Dave, he’s not intimidated and handles the pitching staff well,” Kerins said, adding, “Greg’s our guy for the rest of the season until we get Dave back.”

Osnato echoed Kerins sentiments, “Greg is a great teammate and I have all the confidence in the world in him, “ the injured catcher said, adding, “its his time to shine.”

The Vikings will need Santora to maintain his play defensively if they want to reach their goal of winning the first National Championship in the program’s history.

The team’s skipper has confidence in his team making a run into late May, “I think our guys can play with anybody in the country,” Kerins said.


Mercer County Community College baseball earns No. 2 National ranking faces rival Lackawanna Saturday Wed, 23 Apr 2014 00:11:37 +0000

Hunting for the first National Championship in school history Mercer baseball (29-4) has jumped up a spot to no. 2 in the national rankings released by the National Junior College Athletic Association today.

Mercer did not receive any of the 10 first place votes which were divided by top ranked Jones County Junior College of Mississippi (36-6) with 9 votes and one vote for no. 3 Mesa Community College of Arizona (40-11), according to the NJCAA.

Mercer has won 10 of their last 11 games entering a week that culminates with a doubleheader against vaunted rival Lackawanna College on Saturday.

The Falcons of Lackawanna have derailed Viking playoff runs the last three consecutive seasons including last year’s 6-5 victory bouncing Mercer from the Region 19 Tournament.

The Vikings carried momentum into last year’s Region 19 tournament winning 8 of their last 10 regular season games including a doubleheader sweep of Lackawanna winning 6-4 and 6-3 respectively. But 13 days later Lackawanna bested the Vikings when it mattered most, ending their season….again.

This is a “rivalry that is discussed throughout the offseason” according to tri-captains Ben Stine and Mark Tomei. Tomei understands the Vikes need to not only win the regular season games but the postseason matchups against Lackawanna  telling The VOICE, “I’m 100% confident we will beat Lackawanna everytime we play.”

Mercer began the year by rattling off 17 wins in their first 18 games, vaulting them to the top five of the polls in Div. II of the NJCAA. The Vikes success has been bolstered by the performance of the pitching staff lead by sophomore standouts Heath Fillmyer and Ben Stine.

That staff, comprised of six sophomores and eight freshman ranks 10th in the nation in earned run average with a team ERA of 2.79.

Fillmyer, the 829th overall pick in last year’s MLB Amateur Draft, has been dominant as a pitcher this year, posting an undefeated 7-0 record.

The 19 year old has used his 96 MPH fastball to baffle batters allowing only two earned runs through 43 innings pitched this season. His 66 strikeouts on the year rank 6th in the nation.

Catcher Dave Osnato told The VOICE about Fillmyer’s focus. “When Heath throws, he wants to prove the point that he’s one of the best pitchers in the country. And I think he’s one of the best….I mean the kid was drafted after pitching only eight innings last year.”

Ben Stine has been equally dominant on the mound starting 6-0 with 40Ks in 48.2 IP. The sophomore tri-Captain and North Hunterdon grad has shown durability, especially recently, throwing complete games in three of his last five starts.

Stine’s ERA is ranked in the top 50 in the country at 1.66, and has allowed one run or less in six of his eight starts this season. Stine says he wants to be aggressive with hitters: “when I get ahead in the count, I want to finish them myself.”

The Vikings offense has equaled the output of the pitching staff ranking second in the country in team batting average at .359, with 234 runs on 327 hits.

Coach Kevin Kerins was pleased with the team’s start saying, ”This is our second recruiting class in our system under this coaching staff and we have done a very good job finding the right mental make-up, personalities and talent to fit our style of play.”

Dave Osnato has been a catalyst offensively for the Vikings hitting .427 this season,  20th in batting average nationally, and the freshman leads the team in all power categories with 5 homers, 27 RBIs, and his .667 slugging percentage is in the top 30 in the country.

Freshman outfielder Joe Santospago is the team’s best hitter. Santospago is 11th in the country in batting average hitting .449, with a .480 on base percentage. He is also third on the team with 24 RBIs.

With six games remaining on the schedule it hasn’t been all chest bumps and dogpiles for the Vikings in 2014. After returning from the Myrtle Beach Invitational and earning the number four national ranking, Mercer lost the second leg of a doubleheader against winless Sussex,and then lost again in their next matchup to mid-level Cecil College of MD.

Stine explains, “after we came out with the number four ranking, I think some of the team was on their heels and we lost a game to an 0-12 team.” He added, “I think some of us thought we were hot shit and that we weren’t going to lose.”

After a fiery postgame speech from 3rd year skipper Kerins, Stine said the team regained their focus. “I actually think those two losses were a little wake up call. We’re gonna have to learn quickly now that we are in the region schedule and we need to learn how to win these games.”

Mercer looks to stay hot as they begin the week by traveling to Churchville, MD tomorrow for a double dip against Harford, followed by Monroe at home Thursday before heading to Scranton to face Lackawanna Saturday.

Dave Osnato made it clear the Vikings have a singular goal, “all we want is to be ranked number one when the season is over.”

MCCC baseball team gears up for run at region XIX championship Fri, 28 Mar 2014 00:27:20 +0000

For three consecutive seasons Mercer has reached the Region XIX Championship tournament, only to be defeated by Lackawanna College, derailing Vikings rosters filled with top-notch talent and long resumes

Despite a student body of only 1,500 students, Lackawanna College’s Falcons baseball team has been a perennial region championship contender for the last seven seasons. Mercer County Community College’s student body by contrast sometimes reaches over 10,000 students.

It began in 2011 when Lackawanna defeated Mercer in the Region XIX Championship game 3-0, then in 2012 Lackawanna triumphed again with a 4-3 victory. In 2013 the Vikings swept a doubleheader over the Falcons which propelled them to being ranked twelfth in the nation. Lackawanna bounced back, knocking off the #1 seeded Vikings when they later met in the region final four by a score of 6-5.

That will not be the case this season according to Sophomore Captain Mark Tomei. In an interview with The VOICE the speedy centerfielder said, “I feel 100 percent confident we will beat them every time we play.”

Tomei, a liberal arts major, is a “top returning player” for the Vikings in 2013 according to his Head Coach. Tomei batted .379 with an OBP of .432, and finished 5th in the conference in stolen bases swiping 16.

“I’m hoping to steal 35-40 bases this year,” Tomei said, “I feel that I can hit those numbers.” At the Vikings annual scout day the 5’8 sophomore was clocked at 6.7 seconds in the 60 yard dash, which according to 3rd year Coach Kevin Kerins is “lightning quick.”

To draw a more familiar comparison, the 40 yard dash is a common measurable in football and Tomei’s adjusted 40 time would be 4.46. In other words, if he ran the 40 at this year’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis his time would have ranked in the top 30 players who ran, and one hundredth of a second faster than the highly touted Jadeveon Clowney according to

The Vikings have started off this season 2-0 after sweeping a doubleheader at Harford Community College in Bel Air, MD 2-0 and 5-1 respectively. Sophomore Pitcher and criminal justice major Heath Fillmyer had a strong first start of the year surrendering no runs and striking out three with one walk over three innings.

Like Tomei, Fillmyer turned heads at the Vikings Scout Day with his speed, the 19 year old’s fastball was clocked at 95 MPH.

After turning down a contract offer from the Colorado Rockies who drafted the sophomore in the 28th round of the 2013 MLB Amatuer Draft, Fillmyer returned to Mercer to focus more on pitching. In 2013, the 6’1 right-hander split time between the bump and shortstop, this year he will either be pitching or showing his ability at the plate in a designated hitter role.

Coach Kerins is “extremely excited” about his team for the 2014 campaign, he told The VOICE “this year is our most talented group since I have been here.” The Vikings skipper was an assistant for six years prior to taking over for Matt Wohlski in the middle of the 2012 season.

Kerins did not circle a Region XIX championship as his goal for this season, he has a bigger goal in mind.

“I expect us to play well under pressure.” Kerins said of his team.