Swarthmore Baseball
Swarthmore earned a spot in the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament last year after winning a rain-shortened Centennial Conference playoff. The club then lost in the Regionals, ending the year with a 23-19 record overall and a 14-4 mark in conference play. 

Gone are sluggers Luke Mutz and Paul Cooke as both are playing out their graduate season at Villanova. 

"We lost some massive talent to graduation last year," said head coach Matt Midkiff, now in his 11th season at Swarthmore. "There's a transition sure, but we still have some solid talent to step up and help us compete." 

The Garnet project to finish third in the Centennial Conference, according to the Coache's Preseason Poll. 

"For me, it's not about the offense because I know these guys can produce, but it's going to be about the defense and how well can they defend," Midkiff said. "That's really my only question heading into things right now." 

Edward Berry, who pieced together an outstanding freshman season with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP, transferred to Rollins College in the offseason. 

"The conference lost several of its big young arms, including Berry, so we're not the only club impacted by a departure like that," Midkiff said. 

Stepping up into Berry's spot in the rotation will be Matteo Sollecito. The London native started eight games in 10 appearances last season for the Garnet. The right-hander posted a 4-1 record with a 4.01 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings of work. He also played a significant role in the Garnet's late-season success by helping stabilize the pitching staff while starring in the Centennial Championship opening round, tossing four-shutout innings in a no-hit effort. 

"He had Tommy John surgery during COVID, so he's now just getting back to where he was before," Midkiff said. "He looks fantastic and will be a huge guy for us this year." 

In addition to his duty with the Garnet, Sollecito will leave the club in March to pitch for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic. 

"He's thrilled, and we're all thrilled for him," Midkiff said. "It's not everyday you get to go out on the field and represent your country. It's a unique situation, and we're proud of him." 

Another arm to watch is left-hander Liam Alpern. A Long Beach, Calif. native, he only appeared in four games last season but limited opponents to a .167 batting average. 

"He has improved and looking good in camp," Midkiff said. "He's another guy we will rely on heavily."

Sophomore hurler Jack Bowling will also work in the rotation. This after nearly going blind after being hit in the eye with a ball during a practice last season. 

"The doctors told him he would never play baseball again," Midkiff said. "Through determination and efforts with doctors, he's back with us. He's fought hard, and his eyesight will never be what it was, but he's good enough to play. He has to now where protective eyewear everywhere he goes, not just on the baseball field because another issue with the eye could blind him, but he figures to be a difference maker for us this season from the mound." 

At the plate, the Garnet expect Austin Burgess to shine again. The senior infielder from Maryland was a First-Team All-Centennial honoree last year after hitting .351 with eight homers and 51 RBIs. 

The Garnet opens the home portion of the 2023 schedule with a visit from Delaware Valley on Wednesday, March 1. The club opens conference play on April 1 with a doubleheader at home against Franklin & Marshall. 

"It's a great group of guys here," Midkiff said. "Now we have to go out and do what we need to on the diamond."
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