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2024 Delaware Baseball Preview

Players giving helmet-fives.

(Nick Barbato)


 

After finishing with a winning record of 30-29, including a 17-13 conference record, the Hens on the diamond have a lot of promise to build off of in 2024. With a lot of familiar faces returning, let's break down what to expect below.


Offensive Pillars


As Delaware Head Coach Greg Mamula noted in a recent "Backside Groundballs" podcast, the Hens averaged 7.6 runs scored last season, exceeding their set goal of 7. This year's goal has been expanded to 8. The offense is returning almost all of its everyday bats. Leading the way is third baseman Joey "Pork" Loynd, a redshirt senior who hit .392 with 14 home runs and 80 RBIs last season. Loynd had a historic junior year: second in the country for doubles (27), and top-10 in the country for hits, RBIs, and total bases. His 98 hits tied the program single-season record to Jeff Trout, the father of Mike Trout. Loynd, who was recently rated as the 4th-best third baseman in the country (D1Baseball), will look for another powerful year in the heart of the lineup for the Hens.


Also returning to the lineup and the mound is Milford, DE native Bryce Greenly. Greenly, a 6'3" redshirt senior, transitioned from the outfield and bullpen to be a designated hitter and start on the mound last season. In that transition, Greenly saw career highs in average (.322), on-base percentage (.397), slugging percentage (.514), hits (67), runs (45), home runs (8), RBIs (33), and walks (28). In his first year starting on the bump, Greenly pitched 56 innings in 15 games and had a 4.50 ERA and 43 strikeouts with a 3-3 record. Bryce will again be at the top of the lineup and rotation heading into 2024.


player running to first

(Mark Campbell)


 

Additional Bats


The rest of the lineup will be experienced and familiar with each other. At the corner opposite to Loynd is redshirt senior Josearmando Diaz, who batted .311 with 2 home runs and 25 RBIs last season. Behind the dish is senior Tyler Leach, who batted .267 with 8 home runs and 37 RBIs in 2023 after transferring in from High Point. All three starting outfielders are back as well. Junior left fielder Andrew Amato batted .276 with six homers and 30 RBIs. Redshirt senior center fielder Jake Dunion, a Sales alum, hit for .275 with 3 home runs and 49 RBIs, which was the third highest on the team last season. Senior right fielder Aidan Kane batted .257 with six home runs and 30 RBIs. Additionally, redshirt junior utility man Brett Lesher (Newark Charter grad) had 3 home runs and 17 RBIs with a .234 average. Redshirt sophomore Jackson Tyer (Delaware Military Academy) and redshirt senior Eric Ludman (St. Mark's) are also names who saw time in 30+ games and have returned.


The Hens will certainly miss the middle infield duo of JJ Freeman and Dan Covino, who both started in all 59 games and combined for 21 home runs, 85 RBIs, 145 hits, 243 total bases, and 124 runs last year. It's a great thing when you only lose two names out of the lineup, but the impact these two made were significant. While the program may have their replacements already on the roster, the staff went out to the transfer portal to bolster the competition for these spots. First is Old Dominion transfer Chris Dengler, who hit .282 with 6 homers and 56 RBIs across 98 games in his 4-year career as a Monarch. Dengler, who has two years of eligibility remaining due to injury and COVID seasons, posted a 95.6% fielding percentage in the infield in his ODU career. Also joining the program is Siena transfer Aiden Stewart. Stewart, as a true freshman, started in 52 games as a Saint. He hit .280, six home runs, and 34 RBIs for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference side, while also fielding at a 96.3% success rate. Both Dengler and Stewart look to earn these spots in the lineup for 2024.


Another addition to the offense is outfielder Aaron Graeber from Gloucester College. In 2023, Graeber hit .500 for 18 home runs, 102 RBIs, 15 doubles, and 8 triples. Graeber also stole 20 bases last season. For the NJCAA Division III National Champions, Aaron maximized his trophy case in 2023, earning honors for All-American, Regional Player of the Year, NJCAA DIII Tournament MVP, NJCAA Rawlings Gold Glove, ABCA Positional Player of the Year, and being named the NJCAA Division III Player of the Year. Graeber, along with Loynd, were selected to Perfect Game's Preseason All-Conference Team. Graeber's ability at the plate and the field will find him ways to be an early contributor. Delaware also added Monmouth catcher Brady Mutz to the portal. Mutz hit .236 and threw 20 runners out in 76 games across 4 seasons as a Hawk.


celebrating a home run

(Tyler Gallo)


 

Pitching


While the bats look to be electric in 2024, the pitching will be the X-factor of how far this Delaware team can go. As a unit, Delaware finished with a 6.67 ERA last season. In addition to Greenly, redshirt senior RHP Nate Rolka (38.1 IP, 6.57 ERA) and redshirt junior LHP Eli Atiya (56.2 IP, 7.31 ERA) both started in several games last season, with Atiya also coming out of the pen. The bullpen returns six additional members: sophomore LHP Anthony Gubitosi (23.2 IP, 4.94 ERA), RS senior RHP Owen Margolis (32.2 IP, 5.79 ERA), RS senior RHP Tyler Strechay (51.0 IP, 7.59 ERA), junior LHP Carter Welch (46.2 IP, 7.71 ERA), senior RHP Wyatt Nelson (36.1 IP, 9.41 ERA), and RS sophomore RHP Christian Colmery (7.1 IP, 7.36 ERA). Dom Velazquez, a Dover High alum, missed the entirety of 2023 due to injury and did not fully participate in offseason scrimmages. Velazquez was a starter his freshman year but found consistent success when moving to the pen in 2022, where he threw 45 strikeouts in 45.1 innings.


The program added three collegiate arms this offseason. The first is starting left-handed pitcher Ethan Shaub. Shaub, teammates with Graeber at Gloucester, held a 10-0 record across 19 starts in his two seasons. He threw 123 strikeouts through 83.1 innings pitched, had a 1.62 ERA, and a 0.89 WHIP as a Roadrunner. Second is right-handed pitcher Doug Marose. Marose threw 38.1 innings in 17 appearances as a freshman for Towson, then moved to Hartford CC, where he started 11 games, struck out 60 batters in 60 innings, and finished 3-4 with a 5.40 ERA. Last, but not least, is right-handed pitcher Evan Lewis. Lewis, originally from Severna Park, MD, redshirted at Louisiana Tech in 2021 and eventually moved to Indian Hills CC in 2022, where he gave up 4 runs in 4 appearances out of the pen. Lewis moved to Gaston Community College last season, where he posted a 9.35 ERA in 8 appearances for a team that made the NJCAA Division 1 National Championship. All three of Shaub, Marose, and Lewis have two seasons of eligibility remaining.


pitching

(Tyler Gallo)


 

The Class of 2023


Delaware has added 10 freshmen to the roster this season. Here's a quick bio of each:


  • RHP/1B Tyler August (New Castle, DE/Delaware Military Academy): Named the 2023 Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year. Rated as the best player in Delaware, he is a fringe top-100 RHP nationally via Perfect Game. Will play for the two-time consecutive defending Cape Cod League champions, the Bourne Braves, in summer 2024. Son of Blue Hen Hall of Famer Brian August. Selected as Perfect Game's All-Conference Preseason Freshman of the Year.

  • RHP Ryan McLaughlin (Berlin, MD/Stephen Decatur): Preseason MSABC All-State team in 2023. Rated as the 15th-best RHP in Maryland via Perfect Game. Career high school ERA of 0.99.

  • LHP Alex Tawa (Durham, CT/Loomis Chaffee): Decommitted from South Florida before signing as a Hen. Rated as the #2 LHP from Connecticut via Perfect Game.

  • LHP Elias Conway (East Nassau, NY/Columbia): Rated as the #4 LHP in New York via Perfect Game. Seven strikeouts and zero earned runs across six innings in a NY Class A State Championship win.

  • LHP Ryan Balzano (North Haven, CT/Cheshire Academy): First-team All-Conference in 2021. Below 2.00 ERA in junior and senior seasons.

  • LHP Dylan Bryan (Lutherville, MD/Loyola-Blakefield): All conference and region honors in 2022 and 2023. Over 150 career high school strikeouts. Rated #8 LHP in Maryland via Perfect Game.

  • C Brett Walmsley (Newark, DE/Conrad): Awarded Conference Player of Year in 2023. Career high school .395 batting average. Rated top catcher, #8 overall in Delaware via Perfect Game.

  • INF Ayden Frey (Camp Hill, PA/Cedar Cliff): Captained Cedar Cliff to the PA 6A State semi-finals last spring. Rated 17th-best middle infielder in Pennsylvania via Perfect Game.

  • INF Jack Andrews (Fairfield, CT/Fairfield-Warde): 6.66 60-yard dash via Prep Baseball Report. Won the Connecticut State Championship in 2022. He held a .570 batting average during his senior season.

  • OF Tanner Donati (Pittsburgh, PA/Mt. Lebanon): Ranked top-10 all time in hits (71) at Mt. Lebanon. PIAA runner-up in 2023. Career .423 batting average with 66 RBIs.


Baseball stadium

(Blue Hen Athletics)


 

Staff and Schedule


Mamula kicks off his second season as head coach. After serving as Florida Atlantic's recruiting coordinator, hitting coach, infield coach, and 3rd base coach across seven seasons, Mamula returned to Newark in June 2022. Mamula previously worked under longtime Hen coach Jim Sherman's staff from 2002 to 2006 as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Pitching coach Casey Kulina has also returned for his second season. Joining the staff are recruiting coordinator Bryan Torresani and assistant pitching coach Chris Ludman. Torresani previously was the head coach of Division 3's Arcadia, where he earned a record of 187-91 in his time there. Ludman, who played for the Hens from 2017–2022, was a two-time captain for Delaware and holds the 6th-most strikeouts in program history with 232.


The Hens's season begins in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday, February 16th, at North Florida. The home opener is sandwiched between two Jacksonville weekends, with Delaware hosting the Hornets of Delaware State on Tuesday, February 20th, at 4 p.m. Conference play starts when the Hens travel to Campbell for the March 22–24 weekend. The Tuesday following, March 26th, Delaware will play its first-round game of the Liberty Bell Classic at Penn, a tournament where eight teams battle in the Philadelphia region. The championship is hosted in Citizens Bank Park, where Delaware lost 8-3 in the finals to Rider last season. Delaware wraps up the regular season at home with a weekend series against UNC Wilmington on May 16th–18th. The CAA tournament will take place May 22–25. For the entire schedule, follow the link here.


If you've made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you make it out to some ballgames in Bob Hannah Stadium this season to support the Hens. There's a lot to be excited about, and the first pitch will take place in just over a week.




Twitter: @SSN_BlueHens


@SSN_BlueHens

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