Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured are senior members of the Marquette Catholicbaseball squad, (front, from left) Riley Bamper, StephenMooney, Nate Siener, Stephen Elliot and Clayton Garvey; (back, from left) Ryan Kostecki, John Hughes, Jacob Fischer, Chris Angelton, Danny Holtz, Max Goepel and Jake Eggering.
For the third straight season, the Marquette Catholic Explorers will be mired in Class 3A for baseball.
Following a third-place finish at state in 2012 in Class 1A, Marquette has been bumped up and been unable to win a postseason game since. Marquette was 19-11 in 2014, but lost 7-1 to Triad in regionals.
With a solid senior class and big numbers for the program, second-year head coach Tim Fahnestock thinks the Explorers can buck that trend in 2015.
“We’ve got a very strong senior class,” Fahnestock said. “We’ve got 14 kids in our senior class and we’re very deep in pitching, so we’re excited about that. We’ve also got a good mix of younger kids. We’ve got a large freshmen class. We’ve got 25 kids out at the freshmen level, so throughout the program the numbers are good. The talent level at the lower levels looks good. We’re looking forward to the future. Everything looks good this year and hopefully we can build on it.”
It starts with the pitching staff for Marquette and that begins with senior hurler John Hughes. Hughes led the Explorers in every pitching statistic last year, going 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA. He also had a team-best 59 strikeouts, 46 innings pitched and eight starts.
“John dominated in Prairie State Conference play last year,” Fahnestock said. “He had like a 0.09 ERA and we need him to come up big in all the games.”
Seniors Max Goepel (5-2, 4.81 ERA), Stephen Elliot (2-0, 3.36 ERA) and newcomer Ryan Kostecki look to help anchor the staff.
“Kostecki didn’t play last year, but he’s throwing the ball real good,” Fahnestock said. “Then you mix in Brady McAfee, who is a sophomore lefty and I think we have a pretty decent staff.”
Marquette will miss Carter Hayden (3-2, 3.72 ERA), who transferred to Alton, and Steve Peterbaugh (3-2, 3.35 ERA), who graduated.
As for offense, the loss of graduates Austin Siener (.400, 16 2B, 26 RBIs) and Geoffrey Ferguson (.361, 8 HR, 29 RBIs) will be formidable to replace, but the Explorers still have weapons.
Senior Danny Holtz (.367, 1 HR, 14 RBIs) will play catcher and should direct the bats. Chris Angelton (.281, 8 RBIs), Riley Bamper (.250, 1 HR, 6 RBIs) and Jacob Eggering (.319, 1 HR, 9 RBIs) look to add a punch, too.
“I’m hoping Danny can spark the offense and then mix in Nate Siener stepping up and Zach Weinman hopefully stepping up and playing shortstop for us and then Eggering, his bat was big last year and we need our seniors to lead us,” Fahnestock said. “Everybody else should step up and follow. Hopefully Bamper’s bat comes alive, too. There’s a lot of kids that can do the job, we just need them to step up and fill the void of Siener and Ferguson.”
Marquette kicks the schedule into high gear right out of the gate. The Explorers opened with O’Fallon on Wednesday. They play a double header at Granite City at 4:30 p.m. today and play host to Triad at 11 a.m. Saturday.
With the 3A classification Fahnestock admitted a grueling schedule is essential to success.
“We’ve got to look at Triad, Jersey, Highland, CM in our regional again, so we picked up Mascoutah in the middle of the year,” Fahnestock said. “We go to Mascoutah and then Jerseyville in the middle of the year, play them back-to-back. We see some good teams and hope we’re firing on all cylinders all year. It’s a tough schedule right off the bat.”
Hughes returns to anchor the Marquette pitching staff for his senior season. As a junior, Hughes paced the staff with a 5-1 record and a 2.89 ERA while fanning 59 batters in 46 innings pitched.
A senior for the Explorers, Holtz will handle the catching duties while returning as the team’s leading hitter. Last season Holtz hit .367 with a home run and 14 RBIs. He also led Marquette with three triples.
Head coach: Tim Fahnestock
Conference: Prairie State
Record last season: 19-11
Career record: 19-11 (1 year)
Daniel Hartzell OF, 2B
Danny Holtz C
Jacob Eggering P, 3B
Jacob Fischer 1B
Nate Siener 2B, 3B
Riley Bamper RF, 3B
Max Goepel P, 1B
Stephen Elliot P
Chris Angleton 1B, DH
John Hughes P
Clayton Garvey P
Ryan Kostecki P
Stephen Mooney OF
Jacob File OF, P
Eric Davis P
Mark Davis P
Liam Maher C, 3B
Brady McAfee P, OF
Zach Weinman 2B
Nick Messinger 2B
Mike Neel C
March 18 – vs. O’Fallon, 4:30 p.m.
March 20 – at Granite City (DH), 4:30 p.m.
March 21 – vs. Triad, 11 a.m.
March 23 – vs. MELHS, 4:30 p.m.
March 24 – vs. Dupo, 4:30 p.m.
March 28 – at Calhoun (DH), 11 a.m.
April 1 – at Columbia, 4:30 p.m.
April 2 – vs. Bunker Hill, 7 p.m.
April 4 – vs. Okawville (DH), 11 a.m.
April 6 – vs. Gibault, 4:30 p.m.
April 8 – at Mascoutah, 4:30 p.m.
April 9 – at Jersey, 4:15 p.m.
April 13 – at Mount Olive, 4:30 p.m.
April 14 – vs. CM, 7 p.m.
April 16 – at Greenville, 4:30 p.m.
April 18 – vs. Hillsboro at Busch Stadium, 5 p.m.
April 20 – at Litchfield, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 – at Hillsboro, 4:30 p.m.
April 24 – vs. Nokomis, 4:30 p.m.
April 27 – at EA-WR, 4:30 p.m.
April 29 – vs. Roxana, 4:30 p.m.
April 30 – at MELHS, 4:30 p.m.
May 1 – at Jacksonville Routt, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 – at Cahokia (DH), 10 a.m.
May 5 – at Althoff, 4:30 p.m.
May 8 – vs. EA-WR, 4:30 p.m.
May 9 – vs. Vianney (DH), 1 p.m.
May 12 – at Staunton, 4:30 p.m.
May 18 – vs. Freeburg, 4:30 p.m.
May 20 – vs. Rochester, 5 p.m.