The Rowan University Baseball Team is gearing up for another deep run in this year's 2022 NCAA Division III Tournament. The Profs team enjoyed another stellar regular season going 30-8 overall, 16-2 in the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference), 10-2 at home, and more impressive 15-3 on the road.
Last year, the Profs made a profound statement, registering a 29-6 record, 17-1 in the NJAC, and ranked as high as fourth nationally. They won the Marietta Ohio Regional of the Division III Baseball Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Division III World Series.
"It was a good regular season by our players after losing such a big core off last year's team and for this year to really write their own story," head coach Mike Dickson explained. "The new players came in and bought in."
"I wanted to get past last year as soon as possible. Each new year is a new year and you have new players. Our returning players realized that this year was going to be a new year and a challenging year because anytime you have a successful year the next year, coming back is always extremely difficult, and the new players tend to think it's really easy to get there."
Rowan did not shy away from top-notch competition, playing teams in Virginia Beach, Auburndale, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
"I think the team has to be battle-tested, and you got to be able to win in different ways and rely on different people in your program," noted Dickson. "You got to have some games that you come back from, one-run games and some of our blowouts. To be ready for the postseason, that's what it's all about."
The roster featured three graduate students, six seniors, 11 juniors, seven sophomores, and seven freshmen. Offensively the Profs are dynamic, with eight players hitting over .300.
Sophomore Anthony Schooley led the team in hitting with a .389 average and tied for the team lead in doubles with 17. Graduate student Ryan Mostrangeli led the team with 49 RBIs and tied with Schooley in doubles with 17. Junior Ryan Murphy led the team in home runs with nine, was second in RBIs with 46, and was at the top with a .640 slugging percentage.
"That's one of our main philosophies is being able to get balls in play," Dickson remarked. "I think one of our biggest stats is we are going to have eight or nine players that are going to be in double-digits in doubles and that's a big program philosophy for us. We want to be able to get guys on second base."
"I think when you're trying to create a lineup that's got to be balanced one through nine and when you see really good teams on any given day can beat you and I think that's what we try to do."
"Ryan Murphy was pre-season All-American, and he's lived up to everything he's been and our best hitter in the lineup for the past couple of years." Ryan Mostrangeli is a senior captain, a really clutch player, and leader of our offense throughout this year and even last year and on the All-Region Tournament Team. Anthony Schooley is a transfer that came in, and his brother played here and had a lot of success and solidified that back and middle lineup. Chris Curcio has done a great job, and he's first-team All-Conference."
Junior left-handed pitcher Eli Atiya is undefeated on the pitching side at 7-0. Junior right-handed pitcher posting a 7-2 mark, and junior right-handed pitcher Mike Shannon 5-1. Senior right-handed pitcher Christian Bascuan has registered ten saves.
"It all starts with Eli on the mound, number one really for the last two years, another pre-season All-American, and if Eli is pitching well, you will be in a good spot," Dickson described. "Jason O'Neill was in the bullpen for us last year, then we moved him into a starting role this year and did a fantastic job."
The Profs dropped two games in the NJAC Tournament earlier in the month. However, Dickson remains confident in his team heading into the NCAA Regional Tournament game on Friday against Mitchell College at McGill Field in Annville, Pennsylvania, with the first pitch set for 10 a.m.
"Anytime you win the regular-season conference and go back and play in the conference tournament is extremely difficult." With last year's team winning, you immediately have a target on your back. We won the regular-season conference on Saturday and had to sweep a doubleheader to win it."
Helping head coach Mike Dickson has been his coaching staff consisting of assistant coaches Jordan Friedman, Kevin Gunter, and Jack Goan.
"Jordan was a former player here and captain in 2018 and had a lot of ties to the program," Dickson explained. "He's done a great job recruiting and working with our outfielders."
"Kevin has a lot of pro experience with himself as a pro pitcher and pitched down at Old Dominion and worked a long time with developing pitchers and done a great job with our pitching staff. We hired Jack Goan this year. Jack finished up his playing career at the University of Delaware and he's really worked with our catchers and done a good job of developing the younger guys and taking Hunter (Wroniuk) into an all-conference catcher in his first year."
As head coach of the Rowan University baseball team, Mike Dickson has won 210 games and led the Profs to two NJAC regular-season and conference tournament titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2021 Dickson was named the NJAC Coach of the Year.
"I come from Gloucester County College, a junior college, whereas as a head coach, we won two national championships." I wanted to bring year in and out being a national contender and that was my goal." You have to recruit good players and have good people on your team and a good staff to be able to do that."
"In our program, we always talk about what we want to have, want to take ownership and have accountability." We realize year in and out it's our goal to be a regional winner and get to the College World Series. To do that takes a lot of hard work, preparation, and lifting in the offseason."
In terms of leadership from the Rowan University administration and athletic department have been President Dr. Ali A. Houshmand and Athletic Director Dr. John Giannini.
"What Dr. Houshmand has done to this university is incredible," Dickson remarked. "When I was a player back here in the late 90s and early 2000's they just started transforming from a smaller teachers college into a what is today a big major research institution. That Rowan name is just not a New Jersey name but a national name."
"Having Dr. Giannini in here, his support and he won a national championship here as a coach and understands what it takes to be successful here. Across the board, our athletic department has been extremely successful over the years and it's great."
When it comes to coaching baseball, there are plenty of demands and sacrifices as long hours that Mike recognizes the importance and the vital support from his family, especially his wife Danielle, a 2001 Rowan graduate, and two daughters, Mia and Paige.
"The journey is great. I have two little girls running around in their sports, and god bless my wife. She's a saint because you'll hear it from any coach's wife; you can't do it without her because a lot of times, she's running the kids to different sporting events. This coming Sunday, she's going to an event in the morning and at night and I will be away."
Dickson had this message for the Rowan University Baseball fan base locally and nationally.
"Just keep following along. I don't think we've reached the top of the mountain yet, and we are working our way there and going to get there. Many exciting things are still to come here."