Cool and rainy spring leads to 10 cancellations, Knights win 3 of 4 to close campaign
By Dylan Kleintop
Knightly News Reporter
The Central Penn Knights baseball team had an up-and-down year. However, despite their record, the players and coaching staff have every right to be proud of their accomplishments this season.
The team got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, losing their first six games. They quickly turned it around to win their next three games against Williamson Trade and Scotland Prep. Although they looked to be back on the trail of winning, they were unable to carry it through the rest of the season, winning only five of the remaining thirteen games.
The Knights had many players that carried them on both offense and defense. On offense, Connor Graham, Christopher Rosario, and Jared Rivera led the way. Defensively and on the mound Quinton Heckard and Christian Fulp were stars.
One of the standout players on the season was Heckard. Heckard was a menace on the mound, posting Cy Young-like numbers. He pitched five complete games, including a one-hit shutout against Bucks County on May 1 and a 13 strikeout, complete-game shutout against Clarks Summit on April 23. Heckard also posted an average of nine strikeouts a game and only allowed one home run all season. He had an ERA of 2.93, and batters were barely hitting .240 against him.
Heckard was also named the USCAA Player of the Week on April 30 and the Central Penn College Athlete of the Month for May.
Heckard prepares for his upcoming start on the bench against Penn State Schuylkill. Photo by Andrew Day.
Another standout player was sophomore Jared Rivera. Rivera had a .333 batting average on the season, with six home runs and 22 RBI. He played first base for the Knights and is known as the power hitter in an offensive lineup.
Like many of the other players, Rivera believes the Knights have a lot to look forward to next year. “I believe next year we will have a complete team to fill the roles and extra pitching to go on a run and put Central Penn on the map,” he stated.
Rosario launches a home run in a contest against Penn State Mont Alto. Photo by Andrew Day.
The middle of the Knights lineup was anchored by Rosario. To say Rosario had a good season would have been a vast understatement, with a .432 average, a .488 on-base percentage, and a whopping 1.231 OPS. He led the team with 11 doubles and only struck out six times across 22 games.
Fulp was one of the best all-around players on the team. He had three victories on the season, pitching a complete game in each of his wins, scored 10 runs and had five steals on offense, and made several highlight-reel catches in center field.
The Knights had some key seniors that helped keep the team together and focused throughout the season.
Gabe Arellano and Camden Woodward were among the seniors that have been a part of the team for the past three seasons. Both are versatile players that played all areas of the diamond and filled in when the team needed pitchers.
Arellano discusses the pitcher with Coach Phillip Brown after a base hit. Photo by Andrew Day.
For Arellano, it was a career year, hitting .310 with 11 RBI and a team-leading 11 steals. A constant number two hitter, Arellano frequently got on base and disrupted the opposing pitcher. He also appeared in four games as a pitcher, including securing the save in the season finale, his final collegiate game.
Woodward had an excellent season as well, playing consistent defense, having a great eye at the plate as he was second on the team in walks, and both starting and relieving games on the mound. His season was highlighted by a walk-off single in an emotional game against Penn State Schuylkill on April 25, on the day of his final home game for the Knights.
Arellano and Woodward were heavily relied upon and will be missed by their teammates next year.
Coach Robert Stern did a solid job in the offseason last year, bringing in some quality first-year players for the Knights. Peyton Polletti and Connor Graham were new members to the team that made an immediate impact.
Polletti was the man calling all the shots behind the plate and one of the top defensive players on the team. He had a .964 fielding percentage, only making four errors on the season. He also caught eight runners stealing, with 98 putouts. On offense, he had a .263 batting average and nine RBI on the season. He also won the Knightly News Player of the Game for a gritty performance on the mound in a loss to Clarks Summit on April 23.
While not a freshman, another standout first-year player was Graham. Graham had a .412 batting average, with five home runs, three doubles, and two triples, and 27 RBI. Defensively, he had a .976 fielding percentage, only making one error on the season.
Graham was an offensive force, batting third all season, and was top two on the team in a variety of categories.
- Runs – 2nd (21)
- Hits – 1st (33)
- Triples – 1st (2)
- Home Runs – 2nd (5)
- RBI – 1st (27)
- Steals – 2nd (8)
- Average – 2nd (.412)
Graham smashes a double in a game against Penn State Mont Alto. Photo by Andrew Day.
The Knights are in a great position for next season, only losing two players to graduation. They have a lot to look forward to for next year and hope additional recruits who can follow Heckard and Fulp on the mound can step in and make the impact that Poletti and Graham did this season.
“We can improve on getting some more pitching for next season and starting off each game strong,” said Fulp, who has one year of eligibility remaining. “Our biggest downfall was the pitching staff.”
The team also showed a valuable leadership ability both on and off the field. “A lot of players had to pick up a role that they were not used to and it showed leadership,” said Rivera. “We really grew as a team this year and want this to continue.”
The Knightly News Media Club set a goal for 2019, to call every home game the Knights played. And from an April day that didn’t reach 40 degrees, to several games with 25+ mph wind gusts, our team braved the elements to accomplish that goal.
And while the Knights only had seven home games due to temperatures and weather, we as an organization couldn’t be happier with the experience from this season, hoping to eclipse the number of games broadcast this season in 2020.
Another first also happened, as the final home game of the season featured our first ever all-student broadcast with Knightly News President Brian Christiana and Tyler Coleman on the call.
The Knightly News will continue to livestream our sporting events, with plans to call soccer matches and basketball games later in 2019.
We would like to thank the following Knightly News Media Club members for their contributions this baseball season.
- Commentary – Professor Paul Miller, Brian Christiana, Tyler Coleman
- Photography – Andrew Day
- Beat Reporter – Dylan Kleintop, Tyler Coleman
To view any of the games we recorded this year, go to our YouTube channel.