Returning AEC champs Gwynedd Mercy look to youth in 2020

Gwynedd Mercy looks to youth in 2020
Fresh off an Atlantic East Conference title, Gwynedd Mercy enters the 2020 season with a youthful roster aiming to make noise again this spring.

Gone, however, are sluggers Dave Tatoian, Ryan Keen, and Jason Mulvey, meaning the Griffins will rely heavily on inexperienced talent to carry an offense ranked as one of the best in the AEC last season.

Tatoian, the Atlantic East Player of the Year last season, led the club with a .420 batting average to go along with 14 doubles, a .634 slugging percentage, and a .500 on-base percentage. He leaves the program as the all-time leader in RBIs, home runs, total bases, and intentional walks.

"You don't really replace a guy like Dave in the lineup," said head coach Paul Murphy. "Especially with someone that's only going to be a freshman or a sophmore. His experience is just too great for that, his talent level is just so much higher than anyone coming out of the high school level and playing in college for their first year.

"It's not just replacing Dave though. Our biggest challenge is trying to replace eight position players, and it's almost like starting over from the team that just left. We graduated 14 guys last year."

As if losing the top offensive player in the conference wasn't enough, the club also graduated Atlantic East Pitcher of the Year Nick DeRitis, leaving a hole at the top of the rotation entering 2020.

DeRitis posted a 3.45 ERA last season through 62 2/3 innings. He held opponents to a .219 batting average and made nine appearances while finishing 6-1.

"I think we're going to be in a spot where we have freshmen and sophomores at every position," Murphy said. "Position-wise, we return one starter from last year's team. This year, we have guys that can certainly play at this level and excel, it's just a matter of getting them experience."

Seniors R.J. Boyle and Brian Wildrick figure to open the season at the top of the Griffins rotation. Boyle, a right-hander, made 10 starts last season, posting a 6.24 ERA over 49 innings. Wildrick, who secured the win over Cabrini in Game Two of the AEC Championship series, finished the year 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA. The southpaw made 10 appearances on the season, six as a starter. Returning in the bullpen is senior Liam Sullivan. The righty posted a 2.14 ERA over 21 innings while making 18 appearances, all in relief. He collected 22 strikeouts and held opponents to a .225 batting average.

"Beyond those guys, we have some new guys that are doing well, but it's a matter of gaining some experience," Murphy said. "We'll end up having some pitchers in positions they may not have been in before. Most of these new guys were starting pitchers in high school, but when you get to the college level it's a totally different game. It'll take some time."

The Griffins open the 2020 campaign with a pair contests this weekend against ranked opponents. First, the club travels to No. 13 Salisbury for the season opener on Saturday before finishing the weekend with a contest at No. 11 Kean. The Griffins open the home portion of their schedule with a doubleheader on Sunday, March 22, against Gettysburg.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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