Rejuvenated Arcadia Baseball Thrives Under First Year Head Coach

By Purnell T. Cropper | April 28, 2012

READING, PA (April 28, 2012) –  Heading into the 2012 season, first year head coach Ken Spangenberg ’08 challenged his team with new roles, a different perspective and trust. What came of that challenge was the program’s most impactful season since the young head coach’s final playing season as a member of the 2008 Knights, where he shone as a top-two hitter.  Although Arcadia finishes two victories shy of playing for this year’s Commonwealth Conference championship, the foundation has been poured with distinct intention to be present and competing for that title a year from now.

Arcadia’s season concluded this afternoon on the road at Albright College, splitting today’s league doubleheader with the Lions.  After leaving no doubt of their drive to earn a post-season berth when the Knights toppled the Lions at home on Friday, they knew that in addition to sweeping the Lions, they would need both Alvernia and Messiah to sweep their final series.   By early this afternoon the post-season picture became clear, with win by Widener over league-leading Alvernia, Arcadia would remain on the outside for 2012. 

Today’s opener was just another page out of the team’s resiliency book for this season, where offense was supported by defense in the late innings. The Knights outlasted the host Lions 11-10 in game one, surviving an eight-run sixth inning from Albright that erased Arcadia’s 10-1 lead.  Beginning with a 10-9 lead in final frame, the Knights gave themselves an insurance run and held Albright to a single counter run in the home half to record their 7th win in the Commonwealth, a program-best in their four-year association with the league.  Six players posted multi-hits in today’s opener, all six returners to next year’s squad.  Arcadia would go on to fall in the nightcap by a 9-0 result. 

Spangenberg concludes his first year as a head coach alongside assistant coaches Scott Winters, Mark Reilly, Kyle McAdams and Jim Howieson with an18-21 overall record. That mark is one win more,  and one loss less than the player- Spangenberg’s 2008 Knights (17-22-1), the last Arcadia team to post victories in the double-figures.

A shift in roles for this year’s team was highlighted by filling out a pitching staff of 16 on a mix of returning veterans and newcomers. Combined, they responded to the challenge by posting the program’s best ERA in more than four years, 5.85. 

Spangenberg’s intention to engage in battles from the mound was clear in every inning played this season.  During training, he allowed his coaching staff to perfect mechanics and pitch placement, and during games, timely communication was a consant between coaches and the bullpen.  Nearly 30 times this season, the Knight’s pitched by committee showcasing the confidence the young coaching staff had throughout the lineup. In his first season with the team, junior Jordan Hofferman ’13 worked 5 of the team’s 9 complete games and recorded a 2.76 ERA as one of the Commonwealth’s most feared from the mound. He finished with a 6-1 win-loss mark.  Arcadia’s pitching success was a team effort though, led by players and coaches and reserve-catcher Brian Innella ’13 who served as steady target while guys got loose in the pen.

While the team will depart with five of their seven seniors, two have a final year of eligibility remaining for the 2013 season. Infielders Mark Bowman ’12 and Mike McElhatton ’12 and pitchers Adam Planamento ’12 and Steve Romond ’12 were noted by Spangenberg as leaders and key contributors to the success of this year’s team as were Kyle Jackson ’12 and Marc Gottfried ’12, both with plans to return for one more season. Romond, got the game one start and ended his collegiate career on a winning note. Sean Morris ’12 was relied upon for providing necessary hitting in the clutch. Spangenberg said Morris excelled in that role.  Notably, this year’s senior class enjoyed their most productive season of their career, combining for more wins than the previous three seasons combined. 

All were also a major participants of this year’s 10-win home stand and consistently from both their Erny Field dugout to games on enemy soil, Arcadia’s bench evidenced energy, support and a calm not just from the upperclassmen, but from every player. His coaching staff’s attention to detail regarding opponent tendancies allowed Spangenberg to quietly and swiftly make on the fly adjustments, but you could always see him surveying the diamond and planning ahead- from a pitcher’s perspective to minor lineup changes and including his coaching duties at third base that allowed his players to steal a season total of 77 bags.

Justin Simpson ’14, Nick Petroski ’13, Jay Zehring ’14, Jerry Smith ’13, and Pat Kwiatkowski ’14 added to the upper-class lineup and finished the season in the team’s top six in hitting.  The team will return 20 from this year’s roster along with a promising 2013 recruiting class. 
This year’s Commonwealth Championship Tournament is comprised of Alvernia, Lebanon Valley, Elizabethtown and Messiah and begins on May 4.  Five of the Knight’s seven 2012 league victories came against this field, highlight by a series sweep of LebVal, the No. 2 seed, back in early April.  

The team’s combined success this season should allow for some further post-season accolades to be announced in the coming days.  In the meantime, the Arcadia University Baseball program can hang their hat on an outstanding ride in 2012 and the promise that the alumnus head coach had intended from the on set- a re-energized and immediately competitive Scarlet & Grey baseball program.