Potomac State set to host Region XX Baseball Tourney at Golden Park

Ryean Bennett

Ryan Bennett and the Potomac State Baseball Team will host the Region XX
Tourney May 13-15 at Golden Park. The Catamounts have won nine of the
last eleven Region XX Baseball Championships. Photo Courtesy Raymond Burner

Keyser, WV- Potomac State College will open the 2011 NJCAA Region XX Baseball tournament on Friday at Golden Park. Joining the Catamounts in this year's tournament are Harford Community College (MD), ASA (NY), and Anne Arundel Community College (MD). The 2011 Tourney marks just the 2nd time that Potomac State has hosted the event . PSC last hosted back in 2006.

Potomac State has won the Region XX Baseball Championship nine of the last eleven years and PSC Head Coach Doug Little knows that puts a huge target on the Catamounts' back. "We realize that we have had success in winning this tournament, but I can assure you those other years will in no way give us an advantage this year," said Little. "Every year is different, and this year we just hope to play our best baseball this weekend."

The winner of the double-elimination tournament will then host the NJCAA Eastern District Baseball Tournament beginning May 20 against the winner of the Region X Tournament between teams from North and South Carolina. The Eastern District Champions will then advance to the 2011 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. Potomac State went to three straight JUCO World Series in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and with Hagerstown Community College's trip in 2008, the Eastern District has been represented by a Region XX school four of the last seven years.

This year's Region XX tournament will have a dramatically different feel than in previous years. Gone from the field are Garrett College, who dropped down to Division II this year. Also gone are Hagerstown Community College and Chesapeake College who were defeated in the play-in round last weekend.

"That tells you how good the baseball is in this Region," said Little. "Hagerstown and Chesapeake are both solid teams with great coaches and a proud tradition and they are not even here. It is so hard to win in this Region."

Instead of the usual suspects this year, a newcomer to Division I Baseball- Harford Community College comes in as the heavy favorite. Harford comes with an amazing record of 43-11 including an unheard of record of 30-2 at home.

"We played Harford on the road this year and they dominated us in the first game and then beat us in 11 innings in the second game," said Little. "They are a very solid team; they have three or four great arms and good hitters 1-9. They have had a great year and will be hard to beat."

Harford is led on the mound by a pair of aces Cory Taylor and Jason Seitler. Seitler is 9-2 with 71 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings pitched. Sophomore southpaw Corey Taylor is 8-2 with 86 strikeouts in 75 innings of work.

Not to mention freshman Jamie Pashuck who tossed two no-hitters this season for the Owls, one against Montgomery College-Rockville and another against Massachusetts Bay.

Offensively the Owls are led by James Wilson. The freshman short stop is hitting .434 with 15 doubles, two home runs and 52 runs batted in.

Alex Riley sets the table for the Harford attack as the switch-hitting sophomore has scored 46 runs, and stolen 41 bases, which is good enough for 10th best in all of JUCO Division 1 baseball.

In fact the Owls have stolen 200 bases this season, by contrast Potomac State has just 32 in 2011. Anne Arundel also burns up the base paths with 164 steals this year. ASA also runs. The Avengers have 156 steals.

Harford by way of the sweep over Potomac State earlier this season will be the number 1 seed in the tournament and will face off with Anne Arundel Community College in the second game on Friday.

Anne Arundel comes in with a 28-18 record and the number four seed as the Pioneers survived the play-in round with a 2-0 win over Chesapeake College. Chesapeake eliminated Hagerstown in the opening round by an identical 2-0 score.

Anne Arundel has leaned heavily on the effort of Joe Murrill and Tyler Scoolden who have six and five wins respectively for the Pioneers.

At the plate Anne Arundel is led by a couple of gifted freshmen Charles Daily and Dan Seeba. Daily is hitting at a .365 clip with 43 stolen bases and 45 runs scored. Seeba is second on the team with a .343 average and 48 steals and 30 runs batted in.

Potomac State, 30-9 will be the number two seed and will open the tournament against ASA College from New York.

ASA advanced to the Region XX Tournament as the three seed by winning the Region XV Championship with a two game sweep over Monroe College last weekend.

ASA comes in with a record of 29-11, having a twelve game winning streak earlier this season.

ASA also has one of the most dominate arms in all of JUCO baseball as Sophomore Jonathan Sanchez is 3rd in the NJCAA in Earned Run Average.

Sanchez in 10 games has an ERA of .750, with a record of 8-2 with 91 strikeouts and just nine walks in 60 innings pitched.

Monroe College, who ASA defeated in the Region XV Tournament, Head Coach Luis Melenedez said that Sanchez is "one of the best pitchers I've seen since I've been at Monroe."

Following up Sanchez is Isaac Gil, who has a .900 ERA. Gil a hard-throwing right-hander is 6-1 with 70 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings pitched.

"ASA's number 1 and 2 look incredible. In all my years I have never seen two guys with numbers that good. We will have our work cut out for us to score runs," said Little. "They are very talented team and as athletic as any team we have faced all year.

ASA is led offensively by Eduardo Valdez (.365/ 18 RBI) and Yariel Medina (.367/ 29RBI).

If Potomac State is to score runs they will surely look to Nate Antone who has lead PSC all season at the plate. Antone comes into the Region XX Tournament with a 28 game hitting streak a .445 batting average with 44 runs batted in and three home runs.

Along with Antone, PSC will send five other hitters to the plate with a .325 average or better. Ryan Bennett (.374/ 11 RBI), Jason Driver (.369/ 33 RBI), Zach Markel (.342/ 33 RBI), Jake Ringold (.336/ 15 RBI) and Dave McNeill (.328/ 32 RBI). PSC is hitting .330 as a team, good enough for 25th in the NJCAA.

The Catamounts pitching is headlined by Andy Smithmyer. The sophomore, has a record of 9-2 with 71 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched. Following up Smithmyer will be right-handers Patrick Bankemper (5-0/ 57K, 45 1/3 IP), Austin Art (4-3 / 30K, 38 1/3 IP) along with southpaw Cody Ellsworth (3-1/ 30K 33IP).

“All four of those guys have pitched well this season. They gained valuable experience in last year's tournament and will be counted on this weekend. We have 12 pitchers available and are prepared to use them all if necessary.”

"I look for it to be a very intense tournament; these types of game require that you play solid baseball and also need a few breaks to go your way," said Little. "We are looking forward to hosting the tourney and hope we have fans come out to see the action."


2011 NJCAA DI Region XX Baseball Tournament

1- Harford Community College 43-11

2- Potomac State College 30-9

3- ASA 29-11

4- Anne Arundel Community College 28-18

Region XX Schedule at Potomac State College - Keyser, WV

Friday May 13- Game 1                                  10:00 a.m. #2 vs. #3

Friday May 13- Game 2                                  1:00 p.m. #1 vs. #4-#5-#6 winner

Friday May 13- Game 3                                  4:00 p.m. Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2


Saturday May 14- Game 4                             11:00 a.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

Saturday May 14- Game 5                             2:00 p.m. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4


Sunday May 15- Game 6                                11:00 a.m. Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

Sunday May 15- Game 7*                              2:00 p.m. *If Necessary