Baseball Opens 2008 Season Against Defending BIG EAST Champion Rutgers

February 20, 2008
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Feb. 20, 2008

NORFOLK, Va. -- The ODU baseball team opens the 2008 season this weekend as they host the defending BIG EAST Champion Rutgers program in a three-game set. First pitch on Friday, February 22 is set for 3:00 pm, while the Saturday and Sunday games will begin at 1:00 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 children, seniors, faculty/staff and military personnel or $3 for groups of 10 or more. Ticket books are on sale for $25 and include ten tickets applicable for entrance to any Monarch baseball game this season.

The Old Dominion University baseball Monarchs continue to make strides each year. After taking second in the 2006 regular season, ODU was the CAA tournament top seed and regular season champions last spring for the first time since 2000. The Monarchs return 17 letterwinners from last year's squad, as well as two standouts from 2006 who missed last season due to injuries.

"As we head into the 2007 season, we are looking forward to the challenges in front of us." said head coach Jerry Meyers. "We have a group of returnees that has played a lot, and won a regular season championship. We will have to use this experience to our advantage in what is likely to be another close race in the Colonial Athletic Association."

ODU returns it's starting conference pitching rotation led by First Team All-American Anthony Shawler and two-time All-CAA selection Dan Hudson., along with Ryan Bergh and Dexter Carter. Shawler earned All-American honors on four national lists as he led the CAA with an 11-2 record, 2.20 ERA ,three shutouts and 130 strikeouts in 114 innings of work. Dan Hudson, who pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League over the summer, joined Shawler on first team All-CAA as he posted an 8-5 record with a 3.46 ERA. Hudson was second to Shawler in the CAA with 109 strikeouts in 106 innings.

Once again, ODU's staff led the CAA with a 3.97 ERA, six shutouts and 471 strikeouts. The Monarchs will be counting on strong contributions from returnees in red-shirt Junior Matt Walls, red-shirt freshman Robbie Watkins, sophomore Cory Toth, fifth year senior David Wagner and Brady Burchill.

Offensively, the Monarchs return seven starters which include designated hitter David Burns, first baseman Bryan Cipolla, secondbaseman Chris Keenan, third baseman Jake McAloose, shortstop Gerard Hall, centerfielder Jimmy Miles, and Anthony Shawler who played the outfield, firstbase as well as designated hitter.

Burns earned ABCA All-East Region honors as he led ODU with eight homers and co-led the team with 61 RBI's. Keenan knocked in 31 runs and McAloose knocked in 34 and hit .306 as he was selected to the CAA All-Rookie squad. . Bryan Cipolla and Jimmy Miles return after missing last season with injuries. Cipolla hit .318 with four homers and 46 RBI in 2006, while Miles earned All-CAA, All-Region, and All-State honors in 2006 as he hit .348 with four homers, 32 RBI and was second in the CAA with 39 stolen bases.

The Monarchs will also be counting heavily on contributions from returnees Cameron Scott in the outfield, Joe Velleggia behind the plate, John Malbon at firstbase, and shortstop Chris Buss who missed last season due to back surgery.

Head coach Jerry Meyers, who has been named pitching coach for Team USA and his coaching staff brought in another outstanding group of newcomers which will give the Monarchs added depth. The newcomers include junior outfielder Max Most, infielder Joshua Wright, firstbase/outfielder Chris Baker, catcher Edgar Hernandez, catcher/outfielder Donnie Corsner, pitcher/outfielder Daniel Abdalla, and lefthanders Kyle Hald and Gaspar Santiago.

Abdalla was a two-time first team All-District selection at Kent Island High School in Stevensville, MD.. Chris Baker earned All-State and All-Tidewater honors at nearby Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, Va., Donnie Corsner was an All-Beach District Pick at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, while Kyle Hald was 7-2 with a 1.80 last year at South County High School in Springfield, Va.

Max Most comes to the Monarch family after earning All-MAAC honors at Marist where he hit .325. Joshua Wright helped lead Turner Ashby High School to back to back State titles and was a First team All-State selection. The Monarchs brought in two standouts from Puerto Rico in catcher Edgar Hernandez and pitcher Gaspar Santiago.

Hernandez and Satiago were two of the most highly rated collegiate bound players produced by the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in the 2007 class. Hernandez represented The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in the World Wood Bat Association tournament along with Santiago. Santiago was a selection in the 30th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Amatuer Draft.

"We will need some valuable contributions from our new guys and have to keep working at becoming a team that can win in many different ways," said Meyers.

This year's schedule will feature 31 home games with some of the nation's premier programs visiting the Bud Metheny Baseball complex. Non conference games include Rutgers, Temple, East Carolina, Maryland, Liberty, VMI, Longwood, Norfolk State, Delaware State and Radford.

On the road, ODU will travel to North Carolina, (the College World Series runner-up the past two years), Virginia, East Carolina, Liberty, Richmond, Maryland, Norfolk State, East Carolina, VMI, Radford and Longwod.

The Monarchs will play 30 CAA games with three-game home sets against Delaware, James Madison, VCU, Northeastern, and Georgia State. The CAA Championships will be in Wilmington, NC, May 21-24. The annual scholarship exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles AAA affiliate Norfolk Tides is scheduled for April 1 at Harbor Park.