The Ramapo baseball team kicks off their 2014 campaign on March 9 at home against Oswego State. The team looks to build upon its past successes with a strong core of young players on the heels of a 30-16-1 season in 2013, their third consecutive season with 30 wins or more, one in which the Roadrunners advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Baseball Regional and came in fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Regional.
“It’s time for the underclassmen to show what they’ve got and what they’ve been working so hard for,” said assistant coach Brandon Martin.
Among those key contributors making their return this year is All-Conference sophomore Joe Venturino, the shortstop who hit for a healthy .288 with 22 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases, as well as fellow infielder Brandon Berger, who batted .308 in 91 at-bats last year, paired with a team leading .476 on-base percentage.
Head coach Rich Martin looks to improve upon his 314-222-2 career record at Ramapo in his 14th year, and it appears as though the other coaches in the league feel he’ll do just that. In the NJAC Preseason Coaches Poll, Ramapo is predicted to finish fourth, behind William Paterson, Rowan and Kean University.
Martin has led the Roadrunners to the NCAA tournament in each of the past three seasons. The team has also qualified for the NJAC tournament in six seasons under Martin.
The team won’t have much time to settle into the flow of the season following their March 9 doubleheader against Oswego State, as they will head down to Winter Haven, Florida for spring break to compete in the Russ Matt Central Florida Invitational, where over 200 teams from all divisions all over the country compete. While there, the Roadrunners will compete against the likes of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Eastern Connecticut State and Allegheny College in the span of the week-long tournament.
From there, the team will prepare for NJAC conference games, which kick off Saturday, March 29 when all 10 NJAC teams participate in doubleheaders. All teams in the league will play each other every Thursday and Friday, with doubleheaders on Saturdays.
The season wraps up April 26 with a doubleheader at Rutgers-Camden, then the top six teams will go on to compete in the NJAC tournament that will conclude with the championship game on Sunday, May 4.
The Roadrunners have spent the past three seasons with promising results, but 2014 hopes to be the year they build upon those and finally reach their pinnacle.
“Our philosophy is to respect the system and respect the program by working hard,” Martin said. “As long as we buy into that, there’s no reason we won’t be successful.”