PERU – The Bobcat baseball program is eager to hit the field again after last year’s third-place finish in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) North Division.
Last year, Peru State played an even 50 contests in route to a 30-20 overall record, 18-13 in conference play. Ahead of the ‘Cats in the Heart North Division were Clarke (Iowa), 2-2 against Peru State, and Grand View (Iowa), who were the ‘Cats kryptonite last season winning five of six meetings.
This spring, the main factor is that the team will have more depth. Many quality returners from last season, as well as, several newcomers at different positions has placed the ‘Cats tied for third in preseason conference rankings. The team expects to rely on the experience of its 15 seniors, along with the newcomers, to provide a successful mix of talent.
The Bobcats will be led on the mound by senior all-conference first-teamers Alberto Rosario (Carolina, Puerto Rico) and Eddy Tavarez (San Cristobal, Dominican Republic). They will be joined by a host of fellow returning senior pitchers including Ben Carr (Omaha), Tyler Wheelock (Omaha), Ricky Broxson (Panama City, Fla.), Jose Mendez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Alfredo Barroso (Hialeah, Fla.), and Carlos Gonzalez (Gurabo, Puerto Rico). Other hurlers returning this season include juniors Joshua Santiago (Carolina, Puerto Rico), Michael Colon (Fort Worth, Texas), and Steven Wilkie (Bellevue) and sophomore Felix Rodriguez (Carolina, Puerto Rico).
One catcher returns to the team from last season – senior Edwin Muniz (Dorado, Puerto Rico). One newcomer that will serve behind the dish for the upcoming season will be junior Jose Chacin (Machiques, Venezuela).
The Bobcats will return five infielders for the 2019 season. Among these returners are seniors Joshua Banuelos (Moreno Valley, Calif.), Darren Hasch (Destin, Fla.), who could also see some time in the outfield, Zach Nolin (Bonifay, Fla.), and Sterling Rupp (Grand Island). The remaining returner in the infield is freshman Samuel Neiman (Auburn) – a redshirt in the 2018 season.
Those infielders newly joining the team are juniors Adam Cendejas (Chino Hills, Calif.), Julian Fernandez (Middle Village, N.Y.), and Luis Landaeta (Porlamar, Venezuela). Rounding out the infield newcomers are sophomore shortstop Jesus Tavarez (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), and freshman Alex Ramos(Lakeland, Fla.).
Six newcomers will be roaming the outfield. Three juniors Abner Vincenty (Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico), Eddy Pimentel (San Juan, Puerto Rico), and Brandon Durr (Hazel Crest, Ill.). Two sophomores Austin Greenfield (Omaha) and Jaxson Balm (Auburn), as well as freshman Ricardo Vargas (Lakeland, Fla.) tally up the outfield duties.
Brock Renter (Valley), a freshman pitcher, will be red-shirting this season.
Peru State opens its schedule Saturday, February 2, in Kansas City, Mo., against former Heart opponent Avila. The Eagles left the conference last year and are now competing in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC). The teams will play a pair of double headers each day beginning at 1 p.m.
The conference opener will also be the Bobcats home opener as well. Peru State will be hosting Graceland (Iowa) on Saturday, March 2, in a double header beginning at 1 p.m.
The Heart post-season tournament will begin on May 2 and held at the US Baseball Park in Ozark, Mo. The top five teams from each division will compete in the event.
After reaching career win number 700 last season, head coach Wayne Albury will lead yet another Bobcat club toward high hopes in 2019.
Albury won conference titles with Peru State in 2012 and 2015, then departed for the 2016 campaign before returning the next season. With that being said, if three-year increments hold true, fate would suggest another Bobcat conference championship in 2019.
Assisting Albury this season are former players Kadyn Glass, Mark McGinnity, Bryan Ventura, and Gianfranco Garlobo – all of whom were standout players for the Peru State College Bobcats. Glass and McGinnity are graduate assistants while Ventura and Garlobo are student assistants.