The Roadrunners will be looking to return to the New Jersey Athletic Conference playoffs this season after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Before last year, the Roadrunners made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and three consecutive NJAC playoff appearances from 2011-2013. In addition to those appearances, they won four straight Eastern College Athletic Conference titles from 2007-2010. The Roadrunners are two seasons removed from tying the team record for most wins in a season with 35 back in 2012
The team was marred by injuries to key players such as current junior pitcher Mike Campbell to Tommy John Surgery, and internal problems with the athletic administration, which caused the team to forfeit some games during the season.
“First of all, one of the reasons that we missed the playoff was because we lost some of our better players to injury,” said Ramapo’s 15 year head coach Rich Martin, who owns career coaching records of 579-446-3 overall (.565 winning percentage) and 334-237-3 record at Ramapo (.584 winning percentage). “Also, there was an internal matter that took place. We were unfairly penalized for something that happened during the season and that prevented us from making the playoffs as well. So, it wasn’t totally about baseball as much as it was about some internal problems that we had with the athletic administration.”
The Roadrunners finished the 2014 season with a record of 21-15-1 overall, 6-11-1 in NJAC games, 8-3-1 at home in Jeff Maud Memorial Field, 5-10 on the road and 7-3 at neutral ballparks. They finished the season under .500 on the road for the first time since 2005. Their original conference record of 7-10-1 was changed to 6-11-1 as a result of an original 7-3 win at Richard Stockton changing into a forfeit loss by Ramapo for NJAC record only, thus changing the road record to 6-10.
The Roadrunners’ six NJAC wins mark their lowest conference win total since 2006. Some returning juniors from last year’s team who are now seniors include 2014 NJAC co-pitcher of the year, NJAC First Team All-Conference, New Jersey Colligate Baseball Association Division II/III All-State First Team and ECAC All-Star First Team pitcher Walker Larson, pitchers Tom Portesy, Mark Doyle and Kyle Doerr, NJCBA Division II/III All-State Third Team outfielder Scott Peschiani, NJCBA Division II/III All-State Second Team catcher Chris Werr and outfielder/first baseman Kevin Kelly and infielder Scott Shields.
Other returning players include junior NJCBA Division II/III All-State Second Team and ECAC All-Star Second Team infielder Joe Venturino, sophomore NJCBA Division II/III All-State All-Rookie Team pitcher Kyle Curto and junior infielder/outfielder Scott Paulus, who finished 14th in the NJAC in batting average with a .348 to go with one home run, 11 RBIs, a .380 OBP and a .983 fielding percentage.
Shields said that the players were not as focused on the task at hand as they should have been last season.
“I think we had a lot of off the field things that we were paying attention to that we shouldn’t have been doing,” said Shields. “That might have played an effect on our focus at certain times of the season.”
The Roadrunners open the season in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the first game of the Bobcats Invitational against the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.