After a fun-filled good four months of covering the Rowan Profs’ baseball team, I no longer will be feeding this blog with new, original content at all.
Covering the team and interviewing personnel was a new, yet refreshing task for me to go through with. I enjoyed shooting HD video and photos from games of theirs that I attended and took enjoyment in doing so, since it was a new accomplishment.
By shooting video of a person or of a live action moment within a topic, with which a beat that I was/am very passionate about no less, I learned new tricks and trades, like framing and editing good video shots to make them even better.
At first, I was nervous about approaching people for interviews, thinking by doing so that I was annoying the person[s], but it gave me a fresh take into the wide world of reporting.
By taking photos, especially from different angles of the event, it made way — setting up — for telling a [good] story. I hope to be a sports reporter once I graduate college.
Here are links to my five best blog posts from this semester.
Coming into the game, the Gothic Knights were an average team — with a win-loss record of 16-16. Both teams play within the Division III New Jersey Athletic Conference. Within the conference, Rowan has the second-best record, at 26-14 (a .650 winning percentage), behind only The College of New Jersey (27-10).
On Friday, it was Rowan’s second and final regular-season meeting against New Jersey City. Prior to Friday’s game, serving as the first game of a home-and-away doubleheader, New Jersey City, the night before, hosted the Profs at the Thomas M. Gerrity AC field (NJC’s home field). New Jersey City won the game 5-4, in a come-from-behind victory.
As for this game, like most recent home games, the weather was perfect, with a forecast of around 80 degrees and partly sunny weather. Christopher Williams was the home-plate umpire, while Anthony Gencarelli served as the first-base umpire. It was Rowan’s 13th conference game.
On the mound, Rowan senior starting pitcher Andrew Cohen got the nod. For the season, he’s now 4-4, with a respectable 2.65 earned-run average, and a strikeouts-per-game average of 10.2. For the day, he pitched eight innings, allowed only one earned run, and struck out seven batters. It was the fourth time this season that he’s pitched seven innings or more in a game.
As for the Gothic Knights, senior pitcher Joe Stone got the nod on the mound by his manager Jerry Smith. Despite starting the game, Stone has been used little in games. So far this season, his season high for innings pitched in a game is three, which occurred at Staten Island on April 10th. His game against Rowan was his first start of the season.
Including this game, out of Rowan’s 38 games this season, they’ve scored at least one run in the first inning on 12 occasions.
Rowan got off to a hot start, shutting down the Gothic Knights in the top of the first, then scoring three runs during the bottom half of the inning, to take an early lead.
In that bottom of the first inning, Rowan batters had a single, a walk, and a three-run home run — all within the top four batters of the lineup.
Within that first inning, on a 0-2 count, Jason Clapper started the game by singling up the middle of the field on a high fastball. Alex Kokos laid off two outside fastballs and a low breaking ball, and drew a walk and advanced Clapper up a base to second.
After designated hitter Shawn Leydon flied out on a 1-2 high fastball, Joe Sadler waited for a better pitch and took another high fastball in, on a 3-1 count, good enough to sail a high home run to left field — off of the foul pole no less. Instantly, a strong 3-0 lead was formed. Despite, after Sadler’s three-run shot, two groundouts to end the inning (by Matt Jolly and catcher Steven Hewa), it was a solid start to the game for Rowan.
Despite having three full-count (3-2) at-bats through his first two innings, starter Andrew Cohen settled down and only had three of them through the rest of his start — his final five innings. As for Stone, in his lone inning he had 23 pitches, 12 of which were for strikes.
Their relievers weren’t much better, too, as, in the remaining eight innings, the five other NJCU pitchers allowed six hits and two walks, despite poor fielding behind their pitchers (they had three errors). In addition to that, five Rowan batters were hit by a pitch.
For the day, NJCU pitchers totaled 146 pitches, which averages out to 4.71 pitches thrown per at-bat. In 31 at-bats, Rowan batters struck out on only four occasions (12.9 percent).
Lead-off batter Jason Clapper started in right field, despiteplaying in left field for the previous three games. Going 2/4, it was his 14th multi-hit game of the season. In those 14 games, Rowan is 8-6 (.571).
After the gameended, which was at approximately 6:01 PM, I got a chance to speak with both right fielder Jason Clapper and first baseman Joe Sadler. We discussed the team’s game-to-game approach, coach Mike Dickson’s lineup adjustments, and their advice for both 2017 incoming freshman and soon-to-be sophomore players.
Of note, the game was the same day as Joe Sadler’s birthday, to which he alluded to during the interview (the year of his birthday is unknown).
-This was Jason Clapper’s 10th consecutive start at the lead-off position. Leading up to Rowan’s 2-1 win over Rutgers on April 13th, he had yet to lead-off a game in the team’s previous 28 games.
-In Clapper’s 10 games in the lead-off spot, he’s hitting .487 (19/39), with 11 runs, two home runs, two doubles, nine walks, and seven runs batted in. In his previous 28 games, he went 28 for 83, for a .337 batting average.
-After being the team’s lead-off hitter for the first 18 games of the season, freshman infielder Alex Kokos has been the second hitter in the lineup for the past eight games. In the number-two spot, he’s hitting .318 (14-44) . As a lead-off hitter, he’s hit .250 (19/76). In his past five games as a lead-off hitter, he only hit .187 (3/16), which is possibly why coach Mike Dickson moved him down a spot in the lineup.
In the 18 regular season games that he was a lead-off hitter, the team went 13-5 (for a winning percentage of 72.7). Since then, the team’s gone 7-3 (for a winning percentage of 70). For the season, he’s hitting .287.
Last Thursday afternoon (at 3:30 PM) I attended a baseball game in Glassboro between the Rowan Profs and The College of New Jersey Lions . The temperature was 77 and sunny, perfect weather for baseball. Rowan and TCNJ have been division rivals ever since 1957, when Rowan then was known as the New Jersey State Teachers College at Glassboro.
Leading up to their 9-2 win on that day versus Rowan, TCNJ had won nine games in a row. They currently have the best record among the conference (overall, they are 23-8, and 11-3 versus conference teams). Before losing, Rowan were winners in five out of their six previous outings. The day after the game, the two teams had a rematch, except up in Ewing, New Jersey (where TCNJ plays), which Rowan won 5-4.
For the season, Rowan is 25-11 — including 9-5 within the conference.
In addition to live footage from throughout the game, after the game ended I interviewed Rowan manager Mike Dickson about his starting pitcher, in-game adjustments, and the game’s umpiring (the home-plate umpire was Chris Carroll).
So far this season it’s been a success for the Profs.
The Profs are winners of 18 games, with an impressive 18-9 win-loss record, and they’ve won five out of their past six games. One of their more impressive wins recently was their shutout blowout victory at home versus Haverford College, who has a winning record so far this season. Most recently, yesterday afternoon (at 1 o’clock) Rowan beat 11-11 Stockton, known as the Ospreys, for a final score of 9-8.
Up until yesterday’s loss at Rowan, Stockton had won two out of their previous three games, with more runs scored than allowed in that span (25-20). Luckily for both teams yesterday, the weather couldn’t of been more perfect, especially for baseball weather. At Rowan’s baseball field, the temperature was listed as sunny, and it was around the mid ’70s.
Luckily they have another home game coming on Wednesday afternoon (at four o’clock) before they head off to face Rutgers at Camden later in the week. This season at home, Rowan is 6-1, having won nine out of their past 10 home games overall leading from last season till now. At Glassboro for Wednesday afternoon’s game, the approximate temperature is listed as 73 degrees.
As for yesterday’s game against Stockton, despite allowing eight total runs, Rowan’s pitchers Brad Machinski and Rob Grilli, who I interviewed last month, were excellent in maintaining Stockton hitters on base (10 Stockton hitters were left on base, out of a total number of 40 at-bats). Grilli was fairly solid in relief of Machinski, especially with, at times, fastballs high and down out of the strike zone, striking out six batters out of a total of nine batters that he faced.
Despite Grilli’s solid breaking pitch working all afternoon, his fastball was out of control, both in a good and bad way. While the pitch seemed to push hitters back, especially for left-handed hitters, it also was his Achilles Heal And he got off to a rocky start, too. To start the top of the seventh, his first three batters all reached base- a hit-by-pitch and two singles.
Although Grilli thankfully didn’t throw any pitches behind catcher Steven Hewa, he got behind on counts, was forced to adjust his command, since he also hit a batter (he hit right fielder JJ Swentkowski at the top of the seventh inning). To Swentkowski, Grilli got behind in the count 3-1, as he was going with two fastballs that were thrown at the top right of the strike zone, then a low breaking ball, prior to hitting him.
On the day, Swentkowski was the fifth Stockton player to have multiple hits. Their three through five hitters went a combined 6/13, with eight total bases, five runs, and only two strikeouts. For the game, Swentkowski went 2/4, with a runner left on base (at the top of the fourth, after flying out to right fielder Michael Decker, he left second baseman Mike Desenzo stranded on second base).
Despite taking advantage of Rowan starting pitcher Brad Machinski’s inability to overpower Stockton’s lineup (in counts that had two strikes or fewer, Stockton’s lineup reached based on 11 occasions), on the flip side, Stockton’s starting pitcher Adam Warburton was equally inefficient. In just five innings as the starter, Warburton had 108 total pitches, and allowed six earned runs.
In the second inning alone, Warburton had 40 pitches (23-17). While he wasn’t as wild as Grilli, he was unable to work the corners of the strike zone, and Rowan’s batters took advantage of Warburton’s fastballs down the middle. The third and fifth innings were the best for him, Rowan hitters went a combined 2-11, with three runners (by way of a walk and two singles) left on base.
At the top of the lineup, Rowan’s first four batters hit a combined 7/18 (.388), with eight RBIs, nine total bases, and four runs. Leadoff hitter, second baseman, Alex Kokos (see picture above) statistically had the best game out of all 10 total batters, as he went 2/4, with four RBIs. At the bottom of the second, where Rowan ended up scoring six runs, Kokos doubled to deep left with the bases load, giving Rowan their first lead of the game (3-2).
With the win, Kokos broke a huge slump, as the previous three games he was only 1/11, with zero runs, which is a scary stat for a leadoff hitter (who normally compiles the most runs on their team). For the season, he’s now hitting .264.
For the season, despite allowing Stockton hitters yesterday to hit .400 (16/40), Rowan pitchers (starting pitchers plus relievers) are allowing opposing batters to hit just .231, while Rowan’s team batting average stands at .294.
Come-from-behind victories may be a positive, given the rally to come back, and the team effort and support. The team got off to a hot start, then finished strong, which I assume is what most coaches, like skipper Mike Dickson, would enjoy (not just having a w in the win-loss column but a team win).
Head coach Mike Dickson, who’s 36 years old, has been the Profs’ baseball coach since July 30th of 2014. As an undergraduate student, Dickson graduated from Rowan in 2002, then finished his master’s degree at Rowan in 2005. As he completed his undergraduate degree, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education. In addition to that, he completed his graduate degree in higher education administration.
After graduating, he received Rowan’s Medallion Award, which awards students who excel in academics. Previous to his coaching tenure at Rowan, he was Rowan at Gloucester County College’s baseball head coach from January of 2006 until July of 2014 (see above).
At Rowan’s Esbjornson Gym, I conducted a second interview with Mike.
College baseball is always fun to watch, no matter what division of baseball the games are. The new season is a sign of spring time, beautiful weather, not having to wear snow boots, and the chance at seeing a fun, back-and-forth game.
Last week at the team’s baseball field, on Wednesday the 8th, I attended the Rowan home opener versus Neumann University, which culminated in a come-from-behind Rowan 8-7 win. From the bleachers, I had a perfect view of the left side of the infield, as I sat right behind the third base line. Let the pitches begin.
This past Wednesday I interviewed Rowan’s baseball head coach Mike Dickson, who’s in his third season now, about the upcoming season, his previous coaching experience, and his coaching philosophy. Prior to being the Profs’ baseball coach, he coached Rowan at Gloucester County College’s baseball team for nine seasons. Dickson graduated from Rowan in 2002.
I started the interview off by asking Mike about his previous coaching experience and the differences between coaching at a junior college compared to a four-year university like Rowan.
Question: Is there a huge discrepancy between being a junior-college coach and a four year school coach?
Answer: I think the biggest discrepancy is the length of time you have with the players. You only have two years with players from over there (at Rowan at Gloucester County College) and here you have four years with players. And you may be coaching a different type of player. A lot of players over there (at Rowan at Gloucester County College) were working-to-be-drafted type players.
For different reasons, they ended up at junior college, where over here it’s a little different.
Question: But it’s the same type of preparation, right?
Answer: Absolutely. You’re preparing for a championship win no matter where you are, whether it’s at Rowan (at Gloucester County) College or Rowan University.
Question: I know you were an assistant coach for awhile before being hired as head coach. Is there a huge difference from being an assistant coach to a head coach now?
Answer: Well, there’s a lot more paperwork as a head coach (laughs). I get to do a lot less coaching as an assistant, it’s more focused on recruiting and practice coaching, whereas as a head coach you’re doing more preparation and focusing on off-the-field situations. At that time (as an assistant coach), I recruited every player in that program that went to back-to-back college World Series.
Going from an assistant coach at Rowan to a head coach at Rowan at Gloucester County College, I coached Ryan Buchter, who’s now a starting pitcher for the Padres. He had a great year last year, he was lucky enough that he had an organization that finally believed in him, to give him an opportunity in the big leagues.
I was excited for him last year and spoke to him throughout the season.
Question: He felt good about it? He was confident?
Answer: Yeah. He’s always been confident, he was never the type of player to not be confident. Mechanics wise, it was always a matter of him getting his WHIP (which is calculated by adding his walks and his hits allowed, and dividing that number by his amount of innings pitched) down to one.
As an eighth-inning reliever, managers don’t like pitchers walking leadoff hitters. That was always his issue. He would get a ton of strikeouts, but he’d tend to walk a guy a fair amount, too.
In my career as an assistant, i’ve been lucky so far, 17 or 18 pitchers have made it to the big leagues.
Question: When you were hired as head coach in June of 2014, within the press release you were quoted as saying: “my goal is to continue the tradition of excellence set forth by former coaches John Cole and Juan Ranero.”
You referred your former coach (Cole). What was he like?
Answer: He was intense. Me and him were cut from the same cloth, we’re very competitive. We’re also very detail oriented and we understand that the preparation that you put in leads to your success. I coached with John from 2001 till 2004.
I got the opportunity to transition as a player underneath him to a coach underneath him.
Question: Did you see a different side of him from when you were a player than when you were an assistant?
Answer: Sure, as you get older and mature, you get a different relationship with your college coach than when you’re 18 or 19 years old. That relationship, what he allowed me to then do, he taught me how to be a head coach.
As a player here, he’d teach me how to be a good player, then when I finished school, he taught me how to coach. There’s a huge transition there, from being a player to a coach, and understanding how to develop players versus being the player that’s being developed.
Question: Is your coaching philosophy the same as coach Cole?
Answer: It’s very similar. I was fortunate enough to play on a high school baseball team (Gloucester Catholic High School) that was ranked number one in New Jersey and third overall in the country the year I graduated (2002).
Question: As a coach, what do you want to accomplish over the next 4-5 years?
Answer: Ultimately as a competitor, you want to put the best product out on the field and be successful year in and year out. The ball isn’t always going to bounce in the right direction, you have to have a little luck on your side. But obviously that’s the goal each and every year, to get the chance to get to play in Appleton, Wisconsin (the site of the Division III championship series).”