Clermont College’s first-year baseball team concluded its season with a respectable record of 19-21, that, in terms of everyone playing their first year of college baseball against more experienced teams, is really better than a respectable effort. At one point in the middle of the season, the Red and Black won 12 of 20 games.
“It was definitely a successful season,” said Clermont College assistant coach Dino Costanzo. “Our goal was to finish second in the league and the league tournament our first year. We knew Miami – Hamilton was supposed to be real good.”
The members of this squad of collegiate baseball rookies included: Rob Bush, catcher (Lakota East High School graduate), Andrew Boelleke, catcher (McNicholas), Ryan Bucher, pitcher (Mason), Derek Cooper, infielder (Milford), Dominic “Nic” Costanzo, infielder (Mariemont), Brady Denton, infielder (McNicholas), Ryan Doran, outfielder (Purcell Marian), Joey Fehr, outfielder/infielder (Colerain), Dane Garrett, pitcher (Goshen), Nathan Harris, pitcher (Batavia), C. J. Hilberg, pitcher/second baseman (Madeira), Shawn Howser, pitcher (Western Brown), Jerry Neely, pitcher (Glen Este), Bobby Noeth, infielder/outfielder (Western Brown), Bobby Pangallo, outfielder (McNicholas), Patrick Schneider, catcher (Western Brown), Ryan Stang, pitcher (Colerain), Wilburn “Spike” Wilson, pitcher (Leesburg Fairfield), Zach Van Fleet, pitcher (Madeira), and Zach Zuke, pitcher (Purcell Marian). All are freshmen with the exception of Howser who is a junior and Harris and Noeth who are sophomores.
The Cougars were 10-4 in the Ohio Regional College Conference (ORCC) West Division and placed second in the ORCC Tournament. They were ranked 11th in the United States College Athletic Association's poll. The top eight compete in the national tournament.
"Our goal is to play in the national tournament next year," said Costanzo. "This year we took whatever players we could get and we were not sure about their grades. We lost a lot of players to eligibility, but the rest of the guys pulled together and played well together. Now that we're established we can be very selective about our players for next year."
The results of the Clermont College games are as follow:
Indiana University South East (2-8), Indiana University South East (1-7), Indiana University South East (3-14), University of Cumberland (Ky.) (3-14), Union College (Ky.) (0-10), St. Catherine's (Ky.) (2-10), St. Catherine's (Ky.) (1-11), Ohio State University - Lima (an ORCC game, 6-2), Anderson (Ind.) College (6-5), Northern Kentucky University (1-14), Miami University - Middletown (ORCC, 6-0), Miami University - Middletown (ORCC, 11-1), Ohio University - Chillicothe (ORCC, 18-0), Miami University - Hamilton (ORCC, 2-4), Hanover (Ind.) College (4-9), Hanover (Ind.) College (0-5), Ohio University - Chillicothe (ORCC, 12-1), Ohio University - Chillicothe (ORCC, 12-2), Miami University - Hamilton (ORCC, 4-5), Miami University - Hamilton (ORCC, 2-3), Miami University - Middletown (ORCC, 14-6), Miami University - Middletown (ORCC, 1-0), Clark State (Ohio) Community College (1-11), Clark State (Ohio) Community College (7-6), Miami University - Hamilton (ORCC, 3-9), Ohio University - Chillicothe (ORCC, 19-2), Southern (Ohio) State (ORCC, 12-6), University of Rio Grande (Ohio) (2-9), University of Rio Grande (Ohio) (2-9), Cedarville (Ohio) College (3-10), Ohio University - Zanesville (ORCC Tournament, 4-1), Miami University - Middletown (ORCC Tournament, 11-1), Miami University - Middletown (ORCC Tournament, 2-6), Ohio State University - Lima (ORCC Tournament, 4-3), and Miami University - Hamilton (ORCC Tournament, 4-14).
Statistically, most of the Cougars stood out.
Runs scored: Costanzo 33, Cooper 28, Fehr 20, Noeth 20, Pangallo 19, Denton 15, Schneider 15, and Hillberg 12. Doubles: Costanzo 12 and Noeth 10. Triples: Ball, Cooper, Doran, Hillberg, Noeth, Pangallo, and Schneider one each.
Home runs: Costanzo three and Denton and Pangallo one apiece. Runs batted in: Costanzo 34, Pangallo 27, Noeth 21, Fehr 18, Denton 14, Cooper 13, and Hillberg 12.
Bases on balls: Costanzo 28, Fehr 22, and Cooper 20. Hit by pitch: Denton three and Noeth two. Sacrifice flies/hits: Cooper three and Denton and Doran two each. Stolen bases: Schneider 10.
Hitting average: Costanzo .411, Noeth . 336, Pangallo .317, and Fehr .303. On base percentage: Costanzo .533, Fehr .434, and Pangallo .419. Slugging percentage: Costanzo .607, Pangallo .452, and Noeth .442.
Fielding percentage: Costanzo .978, Ball .962, Cooper .959, and Noeth .928.
Wins on the mound: Zuke four and Bucher, Neely, Stang, and Howser three apiece. Earned run average: Howser 3.05, Stang 3.15, and Bucher 3.41. Strikeouts (number of innings pitched): Howser 46 (39), Stang 36 (40), Bucher 30 (31), Neely 30 (32), and Zuke 29 (45).
Six of the Clermonters earned all-conference status. On the first team were Costanzo, Howser, Neely, and Stang, and on the second team were Bucher and Zuke.
Steve Adams, a former Glen Este High School diamond star, was a first team ORCC all-star member who played third base and pitched for conference champion Miami University-Hamilton.
At the Cougars' post-season banquet, the following received special team honors. Cooper was the defensive player of the year, Costanzo was the offensive player of the year, Howser was the starting pitcher of the year, and Stang was the relief pitcher of the year.
"Our prospects for next year are great. We have had some very talented players commit to us. Right now we're concentrating on players from the east side of town. Clermont County has a lot of baseball talent," Costanzo concluded.
Several very talented Clermont County high school seniors have committed themselves to playing baseball at Clermont College next year - James Pulskamp of Amelia; Alex Fisler of Batavia; Michael Taylor of Bethel-Tate; Andrew Hord, Kenny Jeffers, and Tyler Marshall of Glen Este; Kyle Daulton and Chris Petry of Goshen; and Jesse Johnson of Milford.
Jeff Case of New Richmond is transfering from Shawnee State. He was one of that team's most oustanding players this year.
Zach Barkalow of Summit Country Day and Tony Weber of Mt. Healthy have also commited to play for the Cougars.
Pulskamp was one of the Barons' key hurlers, a left hander. Fisler was a Bulldog leader in hitting average and runs scored. Hord led the Trojans with five home runs. Jeffers was one of the Trojans' outstanding performers, defensively, from his catcher position. Marshall, a right hand pitcher, was tops for GE with a 1.05 earned run average. Johnson was an infielder for the Eagles who hit. 357 and batted in 20 runs. Case was an all-star pitcher and infielder for the Lions.