Bucknell Baseball Team Concludes Most Successful Season in School History
May 29, 2001
LEWISBURG, Pa. --- The 2001 baseball season was one for the ages at Bucknell, as the Bison won their second Patriot League Championship, made their second-ever appearance in the NCAA Regionals, and tied the school record for victories with 31. Head Coach Gene Depew, who garnered his 350th overall win during the Patriot League Championship Tournament, had a senior laden lineup that propelled the Orange and Blue to the best single-season in Bison history. The 1998 team also won 31 games, but did not advance to the NCAA Regionals.
Once again the year was filled with both individual and team success. For the second straight season seven members of the Orange and Blue were selected to the All-Patriot League Team, led by seniors Ian Joseph (Novelty, Ohio/West Geauga) and John DiBonaventura (Breinigsville, Pa./Parkland) who each earned the distinction for the third time in their careers. Four of those seven players were first team selections, and four were named to the postseason team for at least the second time in their careers. As has been the trend for Depew's teams in the past few years, the 2001 edition of the Bison set 22 new school records and tied nine others.
As a team, Bucknell led the league with a .959 fielding percentage, finished second with a 5.70 earned run average, and fifth with a .279 batting average. Offensively, the Bison ranked first or second in 11 statistical categories, including runs scored (299), hits (422), runs batted in (256), home runs (27), at bats (1514), walks (175), sacrifice bunts (29), and sacrifice flies (25). On the mound, Bucknell was first or second in eight categories, including ERA, opponent batting average (.290), innings pitched (380.1), strikeouts (233), saves (11), runners picked off (6), and wins (31). In the field, the Orange and Blue were ranked first or second in six areas, including fielding percentage, chances (1702), putouts (1141), assists (492) and fewest errors (69).
In addition to tying the mark for wins, the team also set school records for the best fielding percentage in a season (.959), the most putouts in a season (1141), having the most batters hit by a pitch in a season (54), having the most batters hit by a pitch in a single game (5, vs. Navy, 3/16, 5, at Holy Cross, 4/9), and the most hits by both teams in a game (42 vs. Towson, 4/26). The Orange and Blue also tied the school record for sacrifice bunts in a season with 29.
The Bison stretched their consecutive "games without being shutout" streak to 134 before Lehigh blanked them 1-0 on April 21.
Individually, the seniors accounted for 248 of the team's 299 runs, or 82.9% of the offense. Depew was blessed with a squad that included senior starters in seven of the eight fielding positions, beginning with first baseman Russ Lindberg (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/St. Peter Chanel).
Lindberg, a career .277 hitter entering the season, stepped up his play in 2001 and led the Bison with a .367 batting average. He played in and started 48 games, and was an All-Patriot League First Team selection and a candidate for Patriot League Player of the Year honors. He led the team and the conference in hits (61), home runs (9), RBIs (59), total bases (100), and sacrifice flies (6), and was among the top-five in four additional categories. His 59 RBIs rank as the fifth-best single-season total by any player in conference history. Lindberg, who posted an impressive .991 fielding percentage with just four errors in 432 chances, set the school single-season record for putouts (405) and tied the mark for sacrifice flies (6). In addition, he set the career mark for putouts with 1148. He closed out his career in style by going 4-for-5 against Miami, the No.1 team in the nation, at the NCAA Regionals.
A finance major while at Bucknell, Lindberg graduated with an impressive 3.57 grade-point-average and was named the Patriot League's Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He also earned Verizon Academic All-District 2 First Team honors and is a candidate for national Academic All-America honors.
Anchoring the bag at second base was senior co-captain Chris Herron (Vienna, Va./Bishop O'Connell). Herron played in and started 47 games and had his best season as a member of the Bison, batting .276 with 24 RBIs. He raised the bar in conference play with a .325 average. Herron scored 19 runs and finished third on the team with eight doubles. He went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and his only career home run in the Bison's 10-9 win at Liberty early in the season.
Over at third base, DiBonaventura earned All-Patriot League Second Team honors for the third consecutive season. He hit .307 with a career-best 33 RBIs, and finished his career with a .300 average. He started and played in 45 games, and was among the team leaders in runs scored (40, 2nd), doubles (7, 5th), and triples (2, 3rd). In Bucknell's 21-13 win over Towson, DiBonaventura tied the school record for runs scored in a single contest with five. He belted three home runs during the season, finishing his career with nine, and stole nine bases in 11 attempts. In addition, he set the school single-season and career mark for being hit by a pitch with 16 in 2001 and 25 in his career.
In the outfield, seniors Kevin Eiben (Delta, British Columbia/Vancouver College), Joseph, and Mike Ritz (Old Tappan, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) filled the spots from left around to right, respectively. Eiben, who platooned in the outfield and served as the designated hitter for much of the season, struggled at the plate with a .222 average but drove in 22 runs and scored 20 more. An all-American on the football field as a free safety for Bucknell, he played in 40 games (starting 37) and had four doubles and a home run. He stole six bases in seven attempts, and finished his career with 41 thefts and a .313 career average. Eiben was drafted 26th overall by the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, and will head to camp in the next few weeks.
Joseph finished an incredible career during which he received all-league honors three times (first team in 2000 and 2001) and set several school and Patriot League records. The switch-hitting center fielder set school marks for games (192) and starts (189) in a career, and was a constant threat as the leadoff batter in the Bison lineup. He stole 99 bases in his career, a school and Patriot League record, and twice tallied 27 thefts in a season (2000 and 2001), also a school record.
Joseph, who led the team and the league with 45 runs scored this season, established new school and Patriot League career marks for at-bats and runs scored with 683 and 162, respectively. He set new Bucknell career records for walks with 99, and singles with 166, and tied the career mark for assists by an outfielder with 15.
This season, he hit .299 with eight doubles, a team-leading three triples and two home runs. He drove in 14 runs, had a team-best 26 walks, and stole 27 bases in 32 attempts. At the Bucknell Senior Athletics Banquet, he was presented the Edward W. Pangburn Award for "sportsmanship, fellowship, and contribution to the University."
Ritz played in and started 49 games in right for the Bison, and had the best year of his career en route to All-Patriot League First Team honors. He hit a career-best .310 and finished third on the team with 52 hits. A three-year starter, Ritz had 10 doubles, a triple and seven home runs, and finished third on the team with 32 RBIs. He was among the league leaders in hits (5th), home runs (T2nd), total bases (3rd), and at bats (2nd). One of his most impressive stats was his reduction in strikeouts. He had averaged 32 over the past two seasons, and this year in nearly 30 more at bats he had just 17.
In addition, Ritz, a finance major with a 3.46 GPA, was named to the Verizon Academic All-District 2 Second Team for the second time in his career.
A pair of seniors anchored the catchers position. Co-captain Brad Gething (Pittsburgh, Pa./Plum) and Pat Cann (Mill Valley, Calif./Marin Catholic) split the duties, and when not catching, each saw some time as the designated hitter. Gething played in 43 games, starting 37, and finished with a .292 average and 24 RBIs. He finished fourth on the squad with 36 runs scored, and had six doubles, three triples, and three home runs. He was second on the team with 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts, and finished his career with 33 thefts on the basepaths. On the flip side, he threw out 11 runners, or 21% of those attempting to steal. Gething finished second on the team with 142 putouts, and had 20 assists and just five errors for a .970 fielding percentage.
Gething was named the Patriot League Tournament MVP after going 6-for-11 with a home run, three RBIs, and five runs scored. He also threw out three runners on the basepaths. Cann played in 25 games, starting 23, and finished the year with a .231 average. He drove in a career-best seven runs, scored six, and had two doubles, a triple, and a home run. Cann threw out nine runners, or 26% of those attempting to steal.
Junior Larry Scheetz (Newtown, Pa./Holy Ghost Prep) was the only non-senior to hold a starting position throughout the season, anchoring the ground at short. He turned in a great defensive year, establishing a new school record for assists in a season with 138, and was chosen to the All-Patriot League Second Team. He hit .250, scored 21 runs, and drove in seven from his ninth spot in the batting order. In addition, he finished second on the team and fifth in the league with 22 walks.
Senior Jeff Peck (Moon Township, Pa./Moon) saw action in 30 games this year, and started 23 - most of which came at designated hitter. He also saw limited time as a backup at first base and at third base. Peck hit .211 with a career-best 17 RBIs and 12 runs scored, and had his best game against Towson, going 3-for-6 with four RBIs. He had entered the season with just three total RBIs in his previous three seasons before breaking out in 2001.
Other juniors that contributed heavily this season were outfielder/DH Eric Fishman (Springfield, N.J./Jonathan Dayton), pitchers Gregg Farmery (Punxsutawney, Pa./Punxsutawney), Chris Lackett (Wall Township, N.J./Wall), Kevin McDowell (Cheswick, Pa./Deer Lakes), and Ross Aron (Westport, Conn./Kent School).
Fishman played in 35 games, starting 27 - either in left field or the designated hitter role. He hit .273, drove in 10 runs and scored 15. Fishman tied a school record with two assists from the outfield in a single-game against Army late in the season, and took away a home run from a Stetson batter in the NCAA Regionals. He finished third on the team with 10 stolen bases, and led the club with five sacrifice bunts.
Farmery turned in another fine season as the Bison closer, earning All-Patriot League First Team honors as a relief pitcher for the second straight year. He set a new school record with seven saves, and set a new single-season standard with 22 appearances on the hill. Farmery held the opposition to a .273 average and posted a 1.61 earned run average over 28.0 innings pitched. He had a 3-2 record, struck out 16, and walked just five.
A chemical engineering major at Bucknell with a 3.34 GPA, Famery was also selected to the Verizon Academic All-District 2 Second Team.
Lackett went 6-3 in the number two spot in the Bison starting rotation this season, and was honored with All-Patriot League Second Team honors. The right-hander led the team and the Patriot League in innings pitched (73.0), and was second in the conference in the number of batters he struck out looking at 18. He posted a 6.29 earned run average, had a team-best 37 strikeouts, and had a team-high five complete-games in 12 starts. Lackett went 3-1 with a 2.45 earned run average in conference play, and improved his overall career mark to 12-9.
McDowell returned to action in 2001 after undergoing "Tommy John" surgery last season, and finished 2-5 with a 6.44 earned run average in the number one spot in the Bucknell weekend rotation. The hard throwing left-hander struck out 34 and walked 40 in 43.1 innings pitched.
Aron made six starts and compiled a 2-1 record and a 5.34 earned run average before being sidelined with arm trouble. He threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout against Slippery Rock back in late March, striking out seven while walking just one. Aron finished the year with 19 strikeouts and 18 walks in 28.2 innings pitched, and held the opposition to a meager .218 average.
Additional juniors that saw time in 2001, in order of games appeared in, included pitchers Ben Myers (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy) [7 app., 0-1, 12.00 ERA, 10 Ks, 5 BB], Sean Magee (Jacksonville, Fla./Episcopal) [6 app., 0-0, 12.41 ERA, 11 Ks, 6 BB] and Blane Sharpless (Reisterstown, Md./Franklin) [2 app., 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 Ks, 2 BB].
Sophomore hurlers Zach Allen (Port Royal, Pa./Juniata) and R.J. Grant (Ardsley, N.Y./Ardsley) worked their way into the weekend rotation as the number three and four pitchers, while classmate Kevin Burns (West Chester, Pa./Malvern Prep) returned from a 2000 injury to contribute down the stretch.
Allen went 5-4 with a 4.40 earned run average - the lowest of any of the Bison starters --and was especially solid in his last two outings of the season. He got the win in Bucknell's Patriot League Tournament-clinching victory over Navy, allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work, and he gave a stellar relief performance against Stetson in the NCAA Regionals, working four-and-a-third innings and allowing just one unearned run on three hits. Allen appeared in 13 games, making 10 starts, and had a complete-game shutout against Lehigh, scattering four hits while striking out six. He was second on the team in innings pitched at 59.1, and third in strikeouts with 30.
Grant went 3-1 with a 5.63 earned run average in 10 games. He started eight contests and registered one complete-game - a three-hit shutout at Lehigh in late April. The big left-hander finished fifth on the team with 28 strikeouts and held the opposition to a .255 average in 40.0 innings pitched.
Burns appeared in eight games, with one start, and went 1-1 with a 7.84 earned run average. He registered his first collegiate save in the championship series against Navy, and worked 10.1 innings during the season.
Additional sophomores that saw time in 2001, in order of games appeared in, included infielder Matt Draper (Allison Park, Pa./Shady Side Academy) [12 games, .111], infielder B.J. Batterson (Beech Creek, Pa./Bald Eagle Nittany) [10 games, .182], outfielder Ben Krentzman (Clearwater, Fla./Clearwater) [8 games, .333], infielder Craig Snyder (Shrewsbury, N.J./Red Bank Regional) [6 games, .222], outfielder David Brooten (Gladstone, N.J./Bernards) [5 games, .143] and infielder Nate Zapata (Fort Worth, Tex./Trinity Valley) [1 game, .000].
Freshman relief pitcher Kevin Miller (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Olympia) made an immediate impact on the Bison program. He worked 51.1 innings out of the bullpen and finished with an unblemished 7-0 record and a pair of saves. Miller tied the Patriot League record with a pair of wins in the conference tournament, both of which came on the same day (one over Holy Cross, the second vs. Navy). He led the conference in wins, finished second in opponent average (.228), was third in earned run average (3.86), was fourth in appearances (18), and tied for fourth in saves.
Classmate Ben Stoll (Swampscott, Mass./Swampscott) appeared in 16 games, starting four in the infield, and hit .381. Three of his eight hits were doubles, and he drove in four runs and scored six in his initial season with the Orange and Blue. Catcher Pete Wolf (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park-River Forest) appeared in 11 games with three starts, and went hitless in 14 at bats.
Additional freshmen that saw time in 2001, in order of games appeared in, included outfielder Chris Cipolloni (Reigelsville, Pa./Germantown Academy) [6 games, .000], infielder Sam Moss (Fresno, Calif./San Joaquin Memorial) [6 games, .000], left-handed pitcher Cory Nadler (Brookline, Mass./Brookline) [6 app., 2-1, 10.80 ERA, 4 Ks, 6 BB], right-handed pitcher Matt Daley (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City) [3 app., 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 5 Ks, 1 BB], infielder Steve Stutzman (Carnegia, Pa./Chartiers Valley) [2 games, .000], right-handed pitcher Garrett Carlough (Clinton, Conn./Morgan School) [1 app., 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 Ks, 3 BB], and right-handed pitcher Rick Hogg (Marriotsville, Md./Liberty) [1 app., 0-0, 99.00 ERA, 0 Ks, 0 BB].
Head Coach Gene Depew added 31 wins to his career total, giving him a 20-year record at Bucknell of 350-399-5.
A complete list of the records the Bison set or tied this season follows:
New School Records Category Old MarkOld Holder New Mark New Holder INDIVIDUAL MARKS Games Played/Career 190 Tyler Prout 192 Ian Joseph Games Started/Career 188 Tyler Prout 189 Ian Joseph Singles/Career 140 Tyler Prout 166 Ian Joseph Runs/Career 134 Tyler Prout 162 Ian Joseph At Bats/Career 646 Tyler Prout 683 Ian Joseph Walks/Career 75 Scott Slifer 99 Ian Joseph HBP/Season 12 Joe D'Orazio 16 John DiBonaventura HBP/Career 22 Frank Fresconi 25 John DiBonaventura Won-Lost Record 6-0 John Kelly 7-0 Kevin Miller Hit Batsman/Season 11 Junge/Lackett 12 Chris Lackett Hit Batsman/Career 19 Ed Soley 26 Chris Lackett Saves/Season 6 Eric Junge 7 Gregg Farmery Appearances/Season 20 Scott Perry 22 Gregg Farmery Putouts/Season 385 Steve Rutkowski 405 Russ Lindberg Putouts/Career 862 Steve Rutkowski 1,148 Russ Lindberg Assists-Infielder/Season 134 Dave Apollon 138 Larry Scheetz Stolen Bases/Career 72 Ian Joseph 99 Ian Joseph