Pitchers and Catchers prepare for their season//Henry Fowler

Pitchers and Catchers prepare for their season//Henry Fowler

By Adam Grassani, Sports Editor

The weather is finally starting to heat up, baseball season is almost upon us and Bergen Community College’s home baseball team is hard at work in practice. The Bulldogs are already looking to improve on a more than respectable 22-14 record last season.

“Last year we were a good team,” said Bergen Baseball Coach, Steve Mimms. “I thought that was probably one of the best teams we had in Bergen history probably. We had a lot of big freshman step up for us. We beat every team in the conference, all the big teams so we were there. We were very competitive. We just came up a little short. It was a good learning curve for our team.”

Last season was definitely not a failure for the team. Along with their 22-14 record, they were 15-6 against conference teams. They were also fourth in the nation in team batting average with a cumulative average of .360. Furthermore, they were eighth in on base percentage and ninth in slugging percentage, a percentage of .435 for the former and a percentage of .472 for the latter. One area of the team however, that could possibly use improving is the team’s ERA, which was 37th at 4.81.

“Pitching wise, yes we had a high ERA but at the same time we got, it was mainly from our bullpen,” said Coach Mimms. “I think our bullpen took a hitting but that was a lack of depth. We gotta use the same guys so many times in a week. Our starters did a great job keeping the runs down because we were getting good run support. We were averaging five runs a game.”

Heading into the 2016 season, the team’s goal is to take that to the next level, and they have the roster to do it. First Team All Region shortstop Junior Nasi will be returning, who hit for a .441 average, .486 OBP, and a .614 slugging percentage last season. Right-handed pitcher Blake Smith will also come back, who pitched a 2.67 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 2015. Along with this, the team has many key newcomers such as Brian Rodriguez, James Randle, Luis Piata, and John Calabrese.

“It’s definitely different; faster pace than high school,” John Calabrese said on the shift in culture from high school to college baseball. “But the guys on the team have made it really easy to transition. Coaches has made it really easy on us. I think I can bring a good attitude; the right mindset. I just want to win. Do whatever it takes to help us win.”

The Bulldogs will be playing their doubleheader home opener on Saturday March 5 against Manhattan Community College. The first game will start at noon and the next will start at 2:00 p.m. The team couldn’t be happier to have the baseball atmosphere, as well as feeling back in town to have a unique model to go with it.

“Feels like I was born again; that’s why I’ve been waiting all year,” said Coach Mimms. “They say ‘What are you going to do this winter?’ Like the old saying goes ‘I’m gonna stare out the window and wait for spring.’ That’s it. That’s what I do all winter. I’m excited. I think this team is excited. We’re prepared. I think our teams preparing very well. We got a great attitude; the chemistry’s coming together and I can start right now. Success is our only option. We have one goal. We tell the guys we go with the model EAT. E. A. T. Effort. Attitude. Teamwork. Keep that in our heads. We’re going to EAT all day. We’re going to EAT a lot. That’s what we want. That’s our goal.”