Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mentor graduate big part of Case Western Reserve's baseball success

Mentor graduate Andrew Frey's senior baseball season at Case Western Reserve includes few glitches and numerous awards.

Frey, the Spartans' shortstop and No. 2 hitter, received University Athletic Association Hitter of the Week honors for the second time this season. Frey was an easy choice for the award. In a doubleheader sweep of nearby Oberlin, Frey produced fantasy numbers: 8-for-11 with two doubles, seven RBI and four runs.

Hitting .727 in two games raised Frey's season batting average to .381. He also entered this week with a team-high 49 RBI.

His play has helped Case ascend to No. 16 in the NCBWA/D3baseball.com Division III poll. The Spartans, who entered this week 25-7, are the second highest ranked team in Ohio behind No. 7 Heidelberg. Case and Heidelberg meet on April 23 in University Circle.

This is a prosperous period for Case baseball. The Spartans went 29-14 and reached the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional play last season. They are in position to qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament for a second straight year.

Frey represents a big part of Case's rise. He hit .317 with 22 RBI playing second and third base last season. His role as a senior expanded when he opened 2014 as the Spartans' starting shortstop.

The Spartans end the regular season April 29 against John Carroll. It will be a memorable regular-season finale for Frey. Case and John Carroll are playing at Progressive Field.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Teenagers occupying key spots for struggling Lake County Captains

Batting first for the Lake Count Captains...

A 19-year-old.

Batting second for the Lake County Captains...

A 19-year-old.

For the second straight year, the Cleveland Indians have assembled a young team in Lake County -- and it's showing in the results.

The Captains dropped to 5-11 with a 6-1 loss to Burlington on April 19 at Classic Park. The loss was the Captains' 10th in their last 11 games.

One year after an overmatched team finished 54-83, the Captains are once again plummeting in the Midwest League standings.

The lineup the Captains used against Burlington included four 19-year-olds in the top five slots in the batting order. Center fielder Clint Frazier and shortstop Dorssys Paulino batted first and second, and first baseman Nellie Rodriguez and designated hitter Anthony Santander batted fourth and fifth. Catcher Eric Haase batted between the quartet.

Haase, a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, is 21 years old. He didn't play college baseball. In fact, only one player in the lineup attended college: No. 6 hitter and third baseman Paul Hendrix (Texas Christian).

A young roster isn't a bad thing. Minor League Baseball is designed to develop major-league players. If a player reaches full-season baseball as a teenager, he maximizes his chances to reach the big leagues.

But a young roster also often maximizes mistakes. The Captains lead the Midwest League with 30 errors and only two teams have fewer wins.

Consider what's happening early season developmental pains. It's becoming a common theme at Classic Park.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Notre Dame College lineman could be 2015 NFL prospect

Shepherd's Howard Jones is regarded as one of the top small-college prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Notre Dame College senior Doniel Gambrell is already receiving attention as a 2015 prospect because of what he did against Jones.

First let's start with details on Jones. He's 6-foot-2 1/2 and weighs 235 pounds. He attended the NFL Scouting Combine as a defensive end, running the second fastest 40-yard dash among players listed at the position behind South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney. Jones posted a swift 4.6 seconds.

Some NFL scouts view Jones as a defensive end. Others view him as an outside linebacker. NFLDraftScout.com ranks Jones as the 170th best prospect in the draft class. If that ranking holds, he would be selected in the fifth round.

Jones helped Shepherd finish 12-0 in the regular season and win the inaugural Mountain East Conference title. Shepherd played Notre Dame College and defeated the Falcons, 57-17. Jones faced one of his biggest challenges that afternoon, which is where Gambrell enters this draft tale .

Jones had seven tackles and a sack against the Falcons. But Notre Dame College coach Adam Howard said Gambrell, a  6-foot-6 right tackle, provided enough resistance to attract attention from the scouts who tracked Jones last season.

"Scouts are looking at him because of that game," Howard said. "He had a good game against Jones. Doniel is 6-6 and has an incredible wingspan. His measurables are off the charts."

Gambrell has an intriguing background. He attended Glenville High School and started his college career at Division I Eastern Michigan. He will enter next season as a three-year starter at NDC.

In short, he could become the first player in NDC's five-year football history to receive a serious NFL look.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Is Ohio State's athletic department underachieving?

Ohio State is ranked 23rd.

Not in one sport. But in all sports combined.

The updated version of the Division I Learfield Sports Directors' Cup were released April 17. Ohio State cracked the top 25. Barely.

Points are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 20 sports -- 10 men's and 10 women's. This makes Ohio State's ranking more troubling. The school sponsors 37 sports, the highest total in Division I.

Funding those sports isn't an issue. Ohio State's athletic department generated $142,043,057 in revenue in 2012, according to USA Today. Only Texas ($163,295,115) eclipsed that total.

The man leading Ohio State's athletic department is generously paid. Athletic Director Gene Smith has a base salary of $940,484. Bonuses could push his yearly earnings past $1.5 million.

Big money isn't yielding big results. So far in 2013-14, Ohio State has failed to qualify for NCAA tournament play in women's basketball, men's soccer, men's and women's ice hockey, and women's volleyball. The school's prominent spring teams aren't faring any better. The baseball and softball teams are 21-17 and 20-20, respectively.

Ohio State's struggles in multiple competitive sports are glaring after analyzing the standings. Four Big Ten schools -- Penn State (No. 2), Wisconsin (No. 3),  Michigan (No. 5) and Minnesota (No. 7) -- are in the top 10. Michigan State (No. 11) and Nebraska (No. 13) are also ahead of Ohio State.

When it comes to on-field results, Ohio State is a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten athletic department.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Four Gilmour football players headed to Divison III schools

Expect to see plenty of Gilmour Academy players on Division III football rosters.

Four key parts of a Gilmour team that went 9-3 and reached the Division V regional semifinals solidified their college choices on April 16.

Two Lancers are staying close to home as fullback/linebacker Frank Grk and safety P.J. Volpe committed to John Carroll, which went 9-2 in 2013. Volpe was an honorable all-state selection in 2012.

Offensive lineman Zach Saliba gives the Lancers three OAC-bound players. Saliba has committed to Catholic.
 
Four-year letterwinner Patrick Mohorcic isn't leaving Ohio, either. The offensive lineman committed to The College of Wooster of the North Coast Athletic Conference.

Gilmour coach Shawn Dodd has spent plenty of time talking with college coaches since last summer. Defensive back Ishmael Hargrove signed with Division I Buffalo and safety Jimmy Rooney signed with Division I-AA Georgetown in February.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mentor graduate Mitch Trubisky in heated QB competition at North Carolina

North Carolina stages its annual spring game on April 12.

Consider it the biggest scrimmage of Mentor graduate Mitch Trubisky's football career.

Trubisky is involved in an ultra-competitive race with Marquise Williams to become North Carolina's starting quarterback. Trubisky and Williams are fighting for the job vacated by Bryn Renner, who should land in an NFL training camp this summer.

The winner of the quarterback derby could be in position to become a multi-year starter for the Tar Heels. Trubisky is a redshirt freshman, Williams is a junior. The loser might have to wait for an injury to receive a chance to operate the first-team offense.

Williams started the final five games last season after Renner suffered a shoulder injury. The Tar Heels went 4-1 with Williams as the starter and defeated Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. Williams' 2013 statistics were promising: 104-of-187 passing for 1,527 yards.

Trubisky has displayed promise his entire career and enrolled early at North Carolina to participate in 2013 spring drills. As expected, he redshirted last season despite Renner's injury. North Carolina exhausted significant recruiting resources to lure Trubisky, the 2012 Mr. Ohio Football, to Chapel Hill, where he has been reunited with former Mentor teammate Brandon Fritts, a 2014 early enrollee.

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora told The Charlotte Observer that Trubisky and Williams are splitting first-team reps this spring. The Tar Heels will receive a third highly regarded quarterback when four-star recruit Caleb Henderson arrives this summer.

For those who want to evaluate Trubisky and Williams for themselves, ESPN3.com will air North Carolina's spring game on April 12. The scrimmage begins at 3 p.m. The first two quarters are 15 minutes and include normal clock stoppages. The clock will run continuously during the final two quarters.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Should the Big Ten have added UConn instead of Rutgers or Maryland?

Rutgers and Maryland officially join the Big Ten this summer.

The Scarlet Knights and Terrapins have one purpose: raise the conference's television profile in lucrative East Coast markets.

Both schools bring middling football programs to a conference already filled with gridiron mediocrity. See, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State and Iowa.

Rutgers also brings public relations nightmares. The school's athletic director wants News Jersey's largest newspaper to die. Julie Hermann is the same selective-memory administrator who denied any knowledge of warning an assistant volleyball coach from Tennessee about getting pregnant. The head coach at the time? Julie Hermann. Last November, Hermann flubbed a bullying incident at Rutgers involving a football player.

Maryland doesn't bring administrative baggage -- or glamorous football and basketball programs -- to the Big Ten. The school's football team has posted three below-.500 records in the last five years, the basketball program has made just one Sweet 16 appearance since winning a national in 2002.

While Rutgers and Maryland prepare to share Big Ten revenues, Connecticut won its fourth NCAA basketball title since 1999 by defeating Kentucky on April 7. The Huskies defeated the Wildcats two days after upending Florida.The Big Ten can use an SEC slayer, even if it's in the wrong sport.

UConn owns more national men's basketball titles than powers Louisville and Kansas, which have three each, and Eastern stalwarts Georgetown, Syracuse and Villanova combined. The Huskies, who endured a postseason ban because of academic issues, are as good as any basketball program in the last 15 years.

Conference expansion decisions aren't driven by basketball. Football pays bills and pads coffers.

Rutgers and Maryland's football programs are known entities. Neither school consistently fields top-25 teams.

UConn is a Division I football newbie. The school became a full-fledged Division I member in 2002. The Huskies have appeared in five bowl games, including the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. Coach Randy Edsall bolted UConn for, coincidentally, Maryland after the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall owns a 13-24 record in three seasons with the Terrapins.

UConn replaced Edsall with a has-been coach in Paul Pasqualoni, who lasted 2 1/2 seasons. Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco now coaches the Huskies. With the proper coaching and recruiting, UConn has top-25 potential.

Connecticut, unlike New Jersey and Maryland, doesn't have any major professional sports franchises. Storrs, Conn., is one of the few spots on the East Coast besides State College, Pa., and Syracuse, N.Y., where college sporting events are major draws. Being in the same state as ESPN's headquarters doesn't hurt the attention-grabbing possibilities, either.

The UConn men's and women's basketball teams play before capacity crowds. Play the right teams -- and win enough -- and the same fervor would extend to football.

Rutgers brings fervor, none of which stems from on-field triumphs, to the Big Ten. Maryland brings UnderArmour money. Snug apparel isn't likely to turn Maryland into a must-watch athletic department.

Everybody who cares about college sports watched UConn on April 7. The saw one of the last desirable pieces in the expansion puzzle capture another major title.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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