Baseball team getting set to make final postseason push

Junior David Marcus has been one of the Vulcans leading contributors on offense, hitting .387 this season for a Cal U team that is making a final push for a playoff spot that eluded them last season.


Junior David Marcus has been one of the Vulcans leading contributors on offense, hitting .387 this season for a Cal U team that is making a final push for a playoff spot that eluded them last season.


    There is an old saying in baseball that when the weather heats up, it becomes “hitting season.” The Cal U Baseball team in recent weeks has experienced their own “hitting season” as they have gone through a renaissance of offense to be able to stay in the PSAC playoff hunt and rebound from a tough start to the season.

      “I think the players and the staff continued to believe that we had the ability to have a great season,” said head coach Mike Conte. “We challenged them early with a tough schedule and then rolled right into conference play with Seton Hill who was ranked in the top 5 at the time and was able to win a game and I think that gave the team a lot of confidence going forward.”

       After having games cancelled over a period of two weeks, the Vulcans were finally able to play their first games of the season against regional foe Winston-Salem State. Against the Rams, Cal was bombarded by the opposing offense and was swept in all four games played. Despite grabbing a walk off win against Seton Hill, the struggles continued. The Vulcans were swept at home by Walsh University of Ohio, leaving the squad at 3-10 in the middle of March.

     The turnaround began with a four game weekend sweep against Gannon. They followed that up with an impressive weekend series to close out the month of March by taking three wins out of four from a Slippery Rock team that was predicted to finish above them in the PSAC West. While pitching has not been at its finest this season, there have been many impressive offensive performances led by junior David Marcus. Marcus has already hit 11 home runs, which leads the team and ranks fourth in the PSAC, and also leads the team with 44 RBI, which also ranks fourth in the PSAC in that category as well.  Marcus’s home run breakout this season has come at an extraordinary pace as he had only hit one home run in his first two seasons.

      The offense has helped carry the Vulcans during this last month and once again proved huge in a non-conference battle with Alderson-Broaddus. The Vulcans coughed up an early 4-0 lead as the Battlers pounced on the Cal pitching but they outscored Alderson-Broaddus 10-3 in the last five innings to grab the 14-9 win. Marcus led the offense with three hits and three RBIs, but the offense received support from one of the newest players, freshman Chris Wastchak. Wastchak grabbed two hits and two RBIs and now has a very impressive stat line. This season, the freshman has a .350 batting average, four home runs, and 26 RBIs, which leads any freshman on the team.

     “We continued the trend that we have been seeing with a tremendous offense and we have been able to manage some defensive and pitching moves which obviously came into a factor against Alderson-Broaddus,” Conte said. “I was really pleased on how the offense responded to the big innings they had and really met the challenge they faced in that game.”

       California has now entered the last two weeks of the regular season in a position to control their own destiny for a return to the PSAC playoffs. The Vulcans sit third in the PSAC West with one game up on Slippery Rock for the final playoff spot in the division and two games up on IUP, who is trying to fight their way into the final spot. Cal’s remaining schedule plays into their favor as they have a weekend series with two PSAC teams that sit near the bottom of the standings, Pitt-Johnstown and Clarion. They also have a non-league doubleheader against a decent West Liberty squad.

    With the schedule playing in their favor, Cal U will look to continue to ride their powerful offense back into the PSAC playoffs after a one-year hiatus.

        “Normally we were a stolen base school and now we have as many stolen bases as we do home runs which is atypical of the recent years in watching the trends in college baseball,” Conte said. “Now if you watch across the board in college baseball home runs are up so the offense is a lot of fun right now.”