When one thinks of college baseball, they think of the big schools in conferences like the SEC and ACC. It’s time to look much closer to home. Marist Baseball has a promising season ahead of them.
During their 2020 season, the team had 12 games under their belts when the MAAC Council of Presidents unanimously voted to cancel spring sports on March 12. At the time of the cancellation, the team had checked through security, ready to board their flight to play against Florida Atlantic University.
Since then, the team has been counting down the days until the 2021 season. Taking a look into the lineup, junior outfielder Brian Hart and brothers senior outfielder and pitcher Reece Armitage and senior infielder Robbie Armitage are three players to watch for in the batter’s box. Hart led the team in slugging percentage at .353 followed by Reece Armitage at .349 and Robbie at .313. These three power hitters are key assets to the lineup, especially since most of their losses last year were in extra innings.
While the team has some power in the batter’s box, their real strength comes from the pitcher’s mound. With the NCAA granting spring athletes an extra year of eligibility, Marist has six returning seniors and four of them are pitchers. With these upperclassmen having experience playing baseball at the Division I level, they set the tone for the incoming freshman and sophomores who did not quite get to experience a season. Having the fifth year players back on the team is a plus, providing a positive impact whether it be on the mound or in the dugout.
Although most of the pitchers are upperclassmen, the team looks forward to watching both sophomore Jack Keenan and freshman Brian Yetter on the mound. Keenan only allowed three hits in seven and a tenth innings last year. Yetter was a standout right-handed pitcher ranked 16 overall on the recruiting website Perfect Game in his home state of Pennsylvania.
The returning seniors and young talent will help the Red Foxes on the mound, but there are two juniors who also excel on the mound. Erubiel Candelario and Ryan Cardona are players who are looking to enter the 2021 Major League Baseball draft.
“Playing professional baseball has always been a goal of mine since I was a little kid. I have been waiting for the year 2021 for my whole life,” Candelario said of the opportunity. “When I was younger, I would do the math, and count the years till when I would be eligible.”
“Marist has put us in an awesome spot for us to get drafted our third year. If there is an opportunity of playing professionally, it is something we would both love to do.” Cardona added.
The two juniors hope that being able to achieve this tremendous goal will set an example for the younger players on their team as well as those who are committed to playing as a Red Fox in the future. “I want them to think, if they can do it so can we,” Cardona said.
Last year, Candelario recorded an ERA of 4.09 in 22 innings. He topped off at a speed of 95 mph against George Washington University and usually clocked in between 92 and 93 mph. At South Florida University, he threw a shutout in seven innings with eight strikeouts, giving up only three hits and three walks.
Cardona had a team-high of 26 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.00 over 21 innings. He tops off at a speed of 94 mph, and like Candelario comes in around 92 mph. “As time goes on, I think Erubiel [Candelario] and I become more conscious with our bodies. How we can get faster and stronger by learning what our bodies can do on the mound”.
Candelario and Cardona have big plans for the future but are focused on the 2021 season wearing red and white. When asked about their thoughts on the season and a MAAC championship, Cardona stated, “We have an enormous amount of depth, we can do it.”
“It’s a 40 game season, we set up a routine and attack it. We can only take it day by day,” Candelario added.
The Red Foxes look to start their season on April 17 in Jersey City, in a doubleheader against Saint Peter’s University.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Mackenzie Meaney
Photo by Marist Athletics