Potomac State eyes Region XX Baseball Tournament.


Jacke Healey

Jacke Healy will lead Potomac State this weekend as the Catamounts look to win their fifth straight Region XX Baseball championship when they travel to Joe Cannon Stadium in Hanover , Maryland . Photo Courtesy: raymondburner.com

Keyser , WV- Potomac State College will open the 2008 Region XX Division 1 Baseball Tournament on Friday when they travel to Joe Cannon Stadium in Hanover , Maryland and face Chesapeake Community College at 1:00 pm .


Potomac State has won the Region XX baseball title seven out of the last eight years, including four in a row.  Hagerstown last won the title in 2003 when they were led by current HCC basketball coach Ryan Devlin.


The first two games of the tournament will take place Friday. Potomac State (35-8), the top seed, faces the number four seed Chesapeake Community College (32-15-1) at 1:00 p.m. That will be preceded by the number two seed Hagerstown Community College (32-15-1) against the number three seed Monroe College (24-10) at 11:00 a.m.


For Region XX Tournament schedule, click here.


The winner of the double-elimination tournament will then host the NJCAA Eastern District Baseball tournament beginning May 16 against the winner of the Region X (North Carolina-South Carolina) tournament.  The winner of the District finals will advance to the 2008 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series in Grand Junction , Colorado .   Potomac State , who went to three straight JUCO World Series in 2004, 2005 and 2006, was defeated in the Eastern District Finals last season by Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg , South Carolina .


Potomac State is led by sophomore shortstop Jacke Healey who has 60 hits, including twelve doubles, three triples and ten home runs, 42 RBIs and 49 runs.  The Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania native has been hitting near .500 most of the year and comes into the Region XX Tournament with a .451 average.


"Jacke has had a really impressive season for us," said Head Coach Doug Little.  "He started off the season really hot and has been able to maintain that pace throughout.  We hope he can continue in the post season."


Right behind Healey is sophomore third baseman Matt Schrader has 58 hits, including 16 doubles, and five home runs, 47 RBIs and 24 runs.  "Matt has had a solid year, but I still think he would tell you heýs not real satisfied with what he has done this year," said Little.  "I look for him to have a very good tournament."


Freshman outfielder Justin Grantham has 54 hits, including nine doubles, 19 RBIs and 41 runs on the season.  Grantham, who for most of the year has been the table setter for the Catamount, has been battling injuries in the last week and his status for the tournament is unknown


The Catamounts, who are hitting at a .366 clip, good enough to rank in the top ten in the NJCAA, have seven other batters hitting above .340. Along with Healey, Schrader and Grantham, Kyle Orensky, Jason Lombard , Brock Stevens and Chris Szafran are hitting .347 or better.


First baseman Orensky, who hails from Wilmington , Delaware , is hitting at a .385 clip with 47 hits, 12 doubles, four home runs and 36 runs batted in.  Orensky also leads the Catamounts in walks and being hit by a pitch. 


"Kyle has been a major reason for any success we have had this season.  He has become a really good hitter and has made quality plays for us all year whether at first or behind the plate," said Little.


Lombard, a Winchester , VA native has six doubles, three home runs and 17 runs batted in.  Szafran, a Keyser High School graduate has added three doubles and seven stolen bases on the season.


Freshman catcher Kevin Griffin is hitting .455 in his last three games including a home run in Saturday's 7-5 loss to CCBC-Catonsville.  The Martinsburg, WV native is now hitting at a .318 clip with nine doubles and four home runs.


Sophomore Mike Smith, who was a named to the NJCAA Pre-season All-American team, is hitting a .331 clip with 41 hits, five doubles, four triples, three home runs and 28 runs batted in.  "Mike has a ton of experience and we know he'll be focused on helping us in the tournament," added Little.


On the mound, the Catamounts will look to sophomore Nathan Fike to lead the PSC pitching staff. The left-handed pitcher is 7-0 on the season, striking out 59 batters, walking 14 and allowing 10 runs on 35 hits. He has an ERA of 1.65 on the season. He is currently ranked 14th in the NJCAA in earned run average.  Fike, a   Farmington , Pennsylvania native earlier this season threw a five inning no hitter over Anne Arundel Community College .  Fike struck out seven and faced just one hitter over the minimum in the mercy-rule shortened game as PSC rolled to a 13-0 win.


"Nathan has matured a lot since last season, "added Little.  "Last year he only relied on his fast ball, but this year he can throw three pitches for strikes and can throw them in any count.  Now he wants the ball and takes pride in every thing he does.  I'm proud of what he has accomplished and I think his best games are ahead of him."


Along with Fike, Little can turn to another pitcher with big game experience.  Sophomore Andy Altemus is expected to start either game one or game two for Potomac State .  The Morgantown , WV native is 5-2 on the year, striking out 55 hitters walking 19 and allowing 19 runs.  He has an ERA of 3.14 in 51 2/3 innings pitched.  Altemus defeated Hagerstown in last year's Region XX Championship game when he pitched a complete game effort when he struck out eight and allowed just five hits.


Both Fike and Altemus have pitched against Chesapeake this season.  Fike threw a complete game as Potomac State topped Chesapeake Community College by a score of 17-2 April 5th at Golden Park.  Fike struck out nine and walked none.  Altemus pitched five shutout innings four days later before Chesapeake broke through in the sixth for two runs.  Altemus finished with five strikeouts in six innings of work as Potomac State came back for a 5-3 win.


Freshman right-hander Andy Berry (5-0, 4.50 ERA, 23 K, 9 BB 30 IP) or freshman Jonathan Hash could also get a start in the tournament.  Hash is 5-0 on the season, striking out 50 batters, walking 15 and allowing 15 runs on 37 hits.  He has an ERA of 3.44.  Hash is also ranked among the NJCAA leaders in strikeouts per inning.  Currently he is 16th in the country with 1.364 K's per inning.


Little thinks this tourney will come down to pitching.  "I really think this will be a great tournament.  I know Hagerstown and Chesapeake both have two or three shut down arms, and from what I've heard Monroe has a couple of really good arms as well.  In all my years I think this is the best the region has ever been.  We will certainly have our hands full if we hope to move on."