Jakob Ryan

For Bluefield College Football fans the return of football has been a long and not ideal start. However, this past season was a trend in the right direction for the Rams. The Rams had their first winning season in program history since the revival of the program in 2012 by posting a record of 6-5.

Bluefield College looks to continue this winning tradition into the 2018 season and they will look to guys such as Lowell Patron to step in and fill some big shoes after graduating some of their outside weapons. The 6 foot 190 pound wide receiver out of Newport News, Virginia, will look to step back on the field this season, after redshirting his first two years on campus.

Photo Courtesy of Bluefield Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Bluefield Athletics

Patron explained what this has done for him mentally “Sitting out my first two years was very hard, however I was able watch some of the older guys ahead of me and figure out what I need to do to be successful.”.

For most players not playing a game for two years could affect their ability to perform at game speed, but Patron is confident that he will be able to jump right back in. “I know that if I trust the work I put in this off season and the work that I will put this summer, then I should be fine.”

The Rams will open up the 2018 season against Cumberland University on Aug. 25th at Mitchell Stadium.

For many students going off to school can be a very nerve racking experience, especially when you are from another country. However, George Mason’s second baseman Alejandro Aponte found this experience slightly challenging, but found some help through his teammates and friends. The Junior from Caracas, Venezuela joined the team at Mason in the fall of 2015.

Aponte saw playing time early in his career which is not typical of a freshmen coming into a new program. “The playing time I had in my first two years was very important for me. It definitely helped me to developed and understand the game better.” said Aponte.

The Junior second baseman explained how the rigorous schedule that student athletes have was difficult to adjust to at first. He also stated “Being separated from my family was also tough”.

Photo Courtesy of Mason Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Mason Athletics

Aponte’s growing comfortability with the American culture has seemed to played a factor into his skills on the field also. After two seasons of play, he is now batting a season high .269 and hit his first career home run against the defending Atlantic 10 Conference Champions.

Since coming to America, the Caracas native described what he has enjoyed most about the American culture. “Americans fight for what they want and are the hardest workers. This is one of the reasons for which not only I like this culture, but also for which I respect it a lot.”. He has not only noticed these characteristics, but has also instilled this to his everyday life. “I always try hard to incorporate this aspect of the culture in my life.”


Zach Mort Photo

Photo Courtesy of George Mason Athletics

George Mason’s baseball team had some big shoes to fill this past offseason with the graduating of Friday starter Tyler Zombro. However, Zach Mort has been exceeding expectations since taking over the Friday starter role this year. This season the junior right handed pitcher has posted a 5-2 record with a 2.20 era, nearly cutting his era in half compared to last season.

“I’ve tried to change my focus from on an at bat as a whole and instead, focusing pitch by pitch.” Mort also explained how controlling only what he can control has helped him with his success this year.

Last summer, Mort spent a portion of his summer in the Cape Cod League with the Bourne Braves where he was competing against the top talent in the nation in college baseball. He explained how this was an eye opening experience to him to seeing what kind of work he needs to put in to play at the next level. “I saw the kinds of work ethics that guys had there and realized the amount of work that I needed to put in to succeed.”.

Following his summer experience in the Cape Cod League, he was able to spark some attention from professional scouts who have begun to following the Junior leading up to this years MLB Draft. “It’s always been a goal of mine to play professionally, so with this year being crucial to that goal, I might’ve put some unneeded pressure on myself to succeed at first” said Mort. Having trust in the work that he put in this past offseason, Mort said he used this as a tool to keep the right mentality on the mound. “That fear made me relentlessly work in the offseason and that work gave me confidence which definitely transferred to the mound during the season.”

With 2018 season coming to a close soon, Mort explained some things he is focusing on to prepare for the next level. “Off-speed consistency is definitely a primary focus that I have worked on this year, and although I have seen more success with them, they can definitely continue to improve.”

Photo Courtesy of George Mason Athletics

Photo Courtesy of George Mason Athletics

As the regular season for George Mason begins to come to an end in the next few weeks, they also begin to finalized their lineups for the post season. One of the most noticeable changes that coach Bill Brown has made was the change to have Jared DiCesare in the weekend rotation.

This Sunday DiCesare made  his first start since his dominant mid week start against North Carolina State where we he allowed zero earned runs, four singles, and a career high at the time of eight strike outs over seven innings of work. Well Sunday he did not disappoint either having arguably his best performance in a George Mason uniform where he went 10 scoreless innings for the Patriots and was awarded Atlantic 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week.

Many Mason fans have probably noticed that DiCesare has only been on the mound and has not played in the field for the Patriots. He explained how this has helped him in focusing on just pitching and what that has done for him “I think that being able to be more specific with mechanics, pitch variations, and just overall arm care has been easier to focus on now that I am just pitching.”.

Last year and even the beginning of the 2018 season, the sophomore was put into a variety of roles and he explained to how it affects him as a pitcher “I think that the mindset doesn’t change, I think that having that mindset whether you’re closing in a tight situation, long relief or starting a game, I’m always in the mode to get the job done and give my team the best chance to win the ball game.”.

So as the season begins to wind down for the Patriots, DiCesare will look to keep proving himself as a top pitcher in the A10. “I want to prove to people that I can pitch in big games, and be an efficient pitcher and help lead my team to as many wins as possible.” DiCesare will be relied heavily upon as the standings in the A10 begin to tighten up with only four weeks left every game will be very important to a Mason team trying to secure their spot in the Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball Championship.

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Newport University Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Newport University Athletics

For most teams playing in the CAC and winning the conference tournament has almost become dream like because of the consist dominating performances by one team in particular, Salisbury University. However, one team in the conference looks to take down this power house and believes they have the team to do it.

Christopher Newport is heading into the final week of the regular season and is having a historical season compiling a record of 29-7 and ranking as high as fifth in the nation. Following next week’s final regular season game against in state rival 4. Randolph Macon, the Captains will be hosting the first round of the CAC tournament.

The Captains have had success in the tournament before, however have come up short in the past and after talking to Junior first baseman Nicholas Baham, he is confident in his teams ability this year. “This year our team is much deeper” stated Baham and also explained to me how having four starting pitchers who all have been consistent this season and two of the top relievers in the nation all combine for a very tough pitching staff to face.

Although, looking at the Captains season, 23 out of the their 29 wins were decided by five or more runs, which could play a factor into the bullpens experience with close ball games. However, Baham did tell me he is confident in their bullpen because of guys like Joe Burris and Brian Owens who have eaten up most of the back end innings in ball games. He also said “the guys in the pen that haven’t pitched as much have all had a lot of experience in years past in Slough, Powell, and Aylor, so we feel confident running them out there against anyone, and they have experience doing so.”

Christopher Newport is currently in a spot to have an automatic bid to play in a regional and Baham seemed to think this will not a have an affect on his teams performance in the tournament. Baham also stated “We would like nothing more than a conference championship, especially if we can beat Salisbury on the way to that.”