Baseball 2020 Season Preview

Posted on March 12th, 2020 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The defending MIAC regular season champion Gustavus baseball team will begin its 2020 season Thursday when it begins play at the Tucson Invite. The Gusties finished last year 25-13 overall and 14-6 in the MIAC, but lost a strong class of seven seniors to graduation.

Head Coach Brad Baker enters his sixth season at the helm of the baseball program but the recent MIAC Championship doesn’t change the dynamic in St. Peter.

“We go about our business like we have every year and we have a process and we stick to it,” said Baker. “I told the guys I thought we have a better team this year than last year from a talent perspective, and a lot will depend on how they come together. Last year we played well, won when we had to win, and the guys had an amazing year. This year is a whole new year, every team in the conference can beat any team any day, so we approach every game the same.”

Gustavus will feature a trio of new outfielders and new glove at third base, as they lost four starters to graduation and Brice Panning (Sr., Hamburg) will be out of the lineup due to a hand injury. The Gusties will look largely to their middle infield duo of Carter Clemensen (Jr., Cologne) and Cole Pengilly (Jr., Le Sueur) to provide a spark at the top of the lineup this season. Pengilly holds down shortstop and is the lone All-Conference returner, posting team-highs in 2019 with a .386 batting average, 49 hits, 29 runs, eight doubles, two home runs, and a .512 slugging percentage. Clemensen will come back as the teams second baseman after hitting .281 with eight doubles, and 25 runs scored. Ethan Mocchi (Jr., Champlin) will return behind the dish after batting .267 last season and getting on base at a .360 clip thanks to eight walks and a team-best 10 hit by pitches, while Jack Hanson (So., Minnetonka) will assume his role at first base after starting 34 contests last season. Hanson hit .223 with seven doubles and 14 RBI, while posting a fielding percentage of .985.

With the team losing over 50 percent of its at-bats from last season, the Gusties will look to some new faces to fill the void.

“Our first-year class is a really talented group across the board,” said Baker. “We have some solid guys on the mound as well as in the outfield, infield, and behind the plate. We had a meeting about expectations, and for our first-years we told them we don’t have expectations because we don’t want them putting extra pressure on themselves to produce. They’re good baseball players and they need to let it happen and they’ll get the opportunity and we want them to have fun with it. I told them that they’re going to have some success and they’re going to struggle but it’s part of the process.”

Although the team lost two of its top starters from last season, Gustavus will bring back a lot of experience on the mound. Christian Johnson (Jr., Buffalo) and Charlie Hutinson (Jr., Maple Grove) will bring back a combined 18 starts, while Damon Rademacher (Jr., Princeton) brings back 17 appearances from the bullpen. Hutchinson had a 3.21 ERA in 42.0 innings and tallied 29 strikeouts, while Johnson posted a 4.47 ERA last season in 48.1 innings with 58 Ks. Rademacher went 3-1 with four saves, working 25.1 innings with a 3.20 ERA and 23 strikeouts.

With just three seniors on the team this season, Gustavus will look to a group leadership effort and buy in from the team to achieve its goals.

“Our ceiling is on the mindset of the kids. Us coaches can set goals but it’s up to them. The tell last year was when we talked about winning the conference one of our kids said ‘why stop there.’ That’s when it hit me that we’re getting kids that think the way we want them to think. We certainly have the talent to do some really cool things but how it all unfolds remains to be unseen and I’d rather go at it with a lot of talent than without it.”

The Gusties will compete in 11 games in Arizona before returning to Saint Peter for their home opener on March 22, and coach Baker is looking for early season growth out of his team to prepare for the MIAC season.

“The coaches have a way that they want the kids to go to work every day, whether it be hitting approach our how they conduct themselves on the mound, there is things we want them to do everyday and when we go play games we don’t want them to forget that. My suspicion is we’re going to have some kids go swing out of there shoes but it’s going to be a constant reminder that we’re not going to be perfect and that’s just fine. We want to be really good when we start conference play.”

Gustavus kicks off its season tonight with 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. contests.

2020 Roster

2020 Schedule

2019 Statistics

 

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