Barnett turns to pitching staff, 11 new hurlers to move the team forward
By Devon Jeffreys
Coming off a 31-22 season that left them just short of the Regional Tournament, the Flagler College Saints Baseball team brings a new look to the diamond this season.
Normally a team with 21 newcomers and just 13 returnees would be considered a rebuilding team, but while Coach Dave Barnett had to rebuild his roster, he expects his new players to make an immediate impact.
Last year’s Saints relied on their big bats to carry them, but without Randy Miller, Preston Picard and Kenny Bargfeldt, the Saints will turn to a rebuilt pitching staff to carry the load.
“We’ve really bolstered our pitching staff,” Barnett said. “I feel it will be the strength of our team this year.”
Flagler brings in 11 new pitchers to complement its four returning hurlers and fortify a staff that was a weakness last year.
“We’ve got more guys that can come in,” senior pitcher Tim DeSutter said. “Starters don’t have to go as long. We’ve got a pretty good staff. I think last year we only had seven or eight pitchers.”
DeSutter brings the most experience to the staff. As a junior last season he posted a 4-9 record with a 3.81 earned run average in 13 starts for the Saints.
Austin Donmoyer also returns to the staff after a freshman campaign in which he has a 6-3 record with a 2.81 ERA in 12 starts. DeSutter and Donmoyer will be complemented in the rotation by three junior college transfers. J.W. Deighton, (Central Florida CC), Lenny Sergnese (Kaskaskia College) and Brandon Rapoza (Tallahassee CC).
“These three are all guys that are pretty much 87-90 mph pitchers,” Barnett said. “They all have real strong arms.”
Junior Wes Burgess moves to the bullpen in a long relief role after two strong seasons as a starter. Burgess was 3-4 with a 3.47 ERA last season in 11 starts.
“[Burgess] is a strike thrower,” Barnett said. “When you bring a guy out of the ‘pen you need someone who will throw strikes. I just feel that with the guys we’ve brought in, he’ll help us more in the ‘pen. If one of these guys gets in trouble early, we can bring him in to keep the game under control.”
Joining Burgess in the bullpen will be Jim Roche in his junior season at Flagler along with junior transfers Kyle Cancellieri, Wade Lamont, Jake Curran and John Goryl.
Barnett said that the closer role on the team is open. He added that Rapoza was a closer at Tallahassee and could fill that role when he’s not starting. Freshman Gary Lohmann is also being groomed, possibly for that role.
Offensively, the Saints look to fill important holes left from last season. Outfielder Glenn Kiture returns for his junior season and, with 26 runs batted in last season, is the leading RBI guy remaining with the team. Bryan Harrell returns for his senior year and will be the starting second baseman.
Brad Jackson will take over at third base after being primarily a pitcher last season and Jason Jones will move to the outfield to platoon with Brett West. Seniors Shane Darnofall and Jorge Marquez will continue to split time behind the plate.
“The returning players are all experienced,” Barnett said. “They all were big contributors last year and a lot of them are going to fill voids that we had.”
Reno Dicarlantonio will take over for Chris Guerra in the outfield and Barnett said that freshman Cale Owen has worked his way into the starting role at shortstop. Kenny Ray, a junior transfer from Lake Sumter CC will take over at first base.
“Coach recruited some big bats this year,” Kiture said. “I think firepower, as far as offense, is not really a big concern. Everybody is anxious about the games.”
The games begin at home on Feb. 2 for the Saints and with a schedule that is primarily NCAA Div. II, the Saints will get the chance to prove they belong in the NCAA.