The Pioneers are looking to come out swinging this season with a loaded lineup and a re-tooled pitching staff.
They got their first win of the season on Saturday when they beat Stevens 6-4 in 10 innings. Freshmen Ian Metzger got the first win of his Pioneer career after tossing five shutout innings in relief.
He struck out 4 batters and only gave up four base hits. Steve Yelin who spent the majority of last season behind the dish started in the right field for the Pioneers and racked up three hits and drove in a run.
Retooled Pitching Staff
The 2020 season is the first year in a long time the Pioneers will not have Eric Rosenberg and Corey Martienez on the hill. Coming into this season the biggest question is how will the staff look for the Pioneers. The major addition to the staff was adding freshmen right-hander Darmany Rivas to the staff.
In his senior year at Bloomfield high school, he finished with a perfect record of 9-0 with a staggering 0.46 ERA. While giving up only 28 hits, and striking out 80 batters in 63.1 innings. Rivas can be an immediate impact player for the Pioneer staff, filling the void left when long time ace Corey Martinez graduated last spring.
Fellow freshman pitcher Ian Metzger has already had an impact on the Pioneers giving them a great first appearance out of the bullpen. If he is able to provide consistency, Coach Lauterhan has the ability to give him a back of the rotation start, or pitch him from the bullpen. This gives the pioneers pitching staff a lot of flexibility.
One answer that still remains unanswered is who is going to be the closer. The Pioneers had the luxury of having one of the best closers in Eric Rosenberg but he to has graduated, leaving a glaring hole that needs to be filled.
The leading candidate for that closer role could be senior pitcher Jack Defouw. He has made 23 career appearances with 18 of them coming in relief. He does have two saves under his belt so he could be a veteran option that can handle the high-pressure situations as a closer.
The Pioneer pitching staff is loaded with a lot of young talent that is ready to take the hill.
A loaded Lineup
The Pioneers for the past few years now have one of the most potent lineups in the NJAC. They play with a never say die mentality and are able to bash their way back into games when trailing. They have a come from behind win under their belt already by scoring six unanswered vs Stevens.
Looking at the lineup for the Pioneers it seemed pretty standard. The lineup was Steven DiGirolomo CF, Carson Weis 1B, Steve Yelin RF, Vin Dorio DH, Dylan Habeeb C, Carlos Perez 3B, Dan Carter LF, Matt Ferrara 2B, and Greg Cuevas SS.
By moving Yelin to the outfield it gives the Pioneers a lot more offense in their line while keeping the same defensive quality behind the plate. As a transfer sophomore, he batted .395 in 40 games with nine doubles, three triples, and seven home runs.
The Pioneers have two of the best pure hitting catchers in the NJAC and adding Habeeb to this already dangerous line up makes the Pioneers one of the most dangerous teams to play.
The Pioneers lineup will most likely stay similar to their opening day rosters vs Stevens. The DH position in the lineup can be used to either give one of the catchers some rest while keeping the bat in the lineup or getting some of the other bench bats in the lineup. The Pioneers are built to bash their way into a deep playoff run this year.
The Pioneers home opener is this week on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 3 PM vs Drew University.