2016 is the year where Penn State’s varsity baseball team is finally finding its stride. The team is well above .500 and is enjoying its first winning season in a while.But success is nothing new for the Penn State baseball club; winning has become a tradition since the team’s inception.
Formed in 1996, the Penn State Baseball Club was created to give students an opportunity to play organized baseball without competingat the varsity level. There are two different teams involved in the spring: the Division 1 and Division 2 teams.
“The Division 1 league is more for teams that are like established clubs,” PSBC president and pitcher Matt McCarthy said. “If a school wants to make a club team they come in as a D2 team for a couple years to prove to the league that they can sustain a roster and play at a high level. The D2 league is pretty new.”
Despite competinga league belowits Division 1 counterparts, the Division 2 team for the Penn State baseball club has been very successful over the last few years.
“Our D2 team is really good,” McCarthy said. “They won a World Series in 2012 and the D1 team won in 2013. So both teams have found success.”
Not only has the Division 1 team found success, but it’s been able to forge a pattern of consistency year in and year out. The club’s spring team competes in the North Atlantic Conference-West of the National Club Baseball Association. The Division 1 squad reached the NCBA World Series in the first four years of its existence and has made it that far eight times in total.
“We’vecompeted well over the years and I think Penn State has been one of the teams that people look to and recognize as a perennial club team,” PSBC faculty advisor Bill Lippert said. “We’ve been to a lot of the World Series games and have won one championship.”
The club had been right on the cusp of breaking through numerous times, but failed to capture the ultimate prize. In 2013, their fortunes changed for the better after the club captured the elusive national title, something that serves as a lasting memory for players like senior shortstop Tyler Love, who playedon that 2013 team.
“My favorite memory has to be when we won it all in 2013,” Love said. “Right behind that would be when we won regionals last year because we didn’t make it out of our region in 2014 so we were able to battle back and return to the World Series.”
The baseball club does not consist solely ofthe spring travel teams; it also provides a fall league open for anyone to join. This league is a chance for players to just have fun and learn the fundamentals while also competing for a chance to make the spring travel rosters when it comes time for winter tryouts.
“Unfortunately we can’t have everyone be a part of our spring travel teams,” head coach Chris Brewi said. “Our fall league is an opportunity for as many people to be a part of the club as possibleand we hold that league for about six weeks. Then we have our tryouts in December. Anyone can play fall league”
“The reason we do that is because often in baseball you can sell yourself short in one tryout,” Love said. “So it’s better to just watch the kids in the fall and we kind of get to know who they are as a player before tryouts.”
While the Penn State Baseball Club centers around America’s pastime, the club is also heavilyinvolved in THON. The club has its own THON child named Tyler Lehman, and has sent a number of members to the BJC floor as dancers. Lehman is a freshman at Penn State Berks battlingHodgkin’s Lymphoma. Lehman has been the club’s THON child since last year.
“A couple guys in our organization started a THON committee and its a part of our club,” McCarthy said. “We do have a THON presence in our club and we’ve had dancers in THON the last threeyears.”
The Penn State baseball club is perfect for those looking to enjoy the sport of baseball as it’s meant to be enjoyed — for the love of the game. The club offers a highly competitive atmosphere with a much more laid back naturethan that of a varsity team. From fall league to the spring travel teams, anyone is welcome to join and tryout. The club is always looking to add on to its baseball family as it continues to strengthen its winning culture.
Jacob Abrams is a sophomore from Oxford, PA, majoring in Management in the Smeal College of Business. Jacob is the President/GM of The LION 90.7 FM along with being a play-by-play commentator and sports talk show host. He is a sports fanatic, and strongly supports the Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, and the New Orleans Saints. He is a first-generation Penn Stater, and in his free time he likes to play sports and sing. You can follow him on Twitter @jake_abrams and contact him at [emailprotected]