Efrain Santiago is one of the leaders for the Rams
Efrain Santiago posted a 1.110 OPS last year. | Photo: Jefferson Athletics
Jefferson pieced together an outstanding year in 2021, finishing with a 23-11 overall record while advancing to the CACC title game. The stellar season marked the best for the Rams since 1990. 

"It's a good group of guys here," said head coach Pat Horvath. "They've been putting in the work and know what they have to do to succeed." 

Much of last year's core lineup returns, but a notable loss is Richard Joa who graduated. 

The Matawan, NJ. native hit .366 with eight homers and 38 RBI's to go along with a 1.158 OPS and 11 stolen bases. He finished his career at Jefferson with a .322 average and now is an assistant under Horvath on the coaching staff. 

"It's a definite loss, but we have the talent to step up and produce," Horvath said. 

Junior Zack Austin pieced together an outstanding campaign last year, hitting .367 with five triples. Sophomore Ryan Sawyer also looks primed to improve on a solid rookie campaign where he hit .339 with six homers, collected 34 RBI's, and stole six bases. 

Another core bat for the Rams is grad student catcher Efrain Santiago. The Puerto Rico native led the team with 71 total bases last year and hit .333 while posting a 1.110 OPS. 

"These guys have put in the work," Horvath said. "They know what they need to do from a leadership perspective, and they have the talent to really do well for us." 

A significant blow on the pitching side is the loss of CACC Pitcher of the Year Jack Galligan to graduation. It'll be tough to fill a void like that at the top of the rotation, but Horvath is confident he has some talented arms that are ready to take a step forward. Like Joa, Galligan is also now an assistant coach under Horvath. 

Junior righty Patrick Hohlfeld and sophomore righty Jem Sisco are both expected to spend time in the starting rotation. Hohlfeld made seven appearances last year for the Rams, including three starts, and finished 3-0 with a 4.43 ERA. He also collected 32 strikeouts over 22 1/3 innings. 

Sisco made eight starts a year ago and posted a 2-1 mark along with a 3.37 ERA. He also whiffed 50 while issuing just 17 walks over 34 2/3 innings. 

Senior right-hander Matt Bukavich is another arm to keep an eye on. He was phenomenal out of the bullpen for the Rams last season, posting a 2.89 ERA while collecting five saves and a 0.93 WHIP. 

"I like where we are with pitching right now," Horvath said. "Losing the CACC Pitcher of the Year is a major blow, and it would be to any club to lose a guy like that, but we think we are in a position to still do well on the mound." 

Jefferson projects to finish third in the South Division via the CACC preseason coaches poll, though the club also scored three first-place votes. 

"It's good to see, sure," Horvath said. "That said, the guys are not focused on that. We want to go out and do what we need to do on the field. The rest will take care of itself." 

The Rams will spend this weekend in Due West, S.C. for a pair of doubleheaders with Erskine. The club returns to action with the home opener on March 2 against Queens.

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