Diamond ‘Dogs host a trio of schools this weekend for Jerry Bryson Classic
BOILING SPRINGS – Head Coach Jim Chester will begin his third season at the helm of the Gardner-Webb baseball program on Friday, as the Diamond ‘Dogs host the 2022 Jerry Bryson Classic.
The tournament features Bellarmine (Atlantic Sun Conference), 2022 NCAA regional entrant NJIT (America East Conference) and No. 5 Virginia (ACC). Bellarmine and Virginia play Friday’s opener at 1:00 p.m. Gardner-Webb will host NJIT at 5:00 p.m. on opening day.
Chester’s squad are brimming with new faces, with no less than five or six newcomers to the starting line-up this weekend. Talented hitters curtis robinson (Penn State), DaeganBrady (Neosho CC), Alec Burns (West Virginia) and Trevor Mattson (Arcadia) will be part of a transfer group tasked with replacing the serial production of a veteran core who graduated after last season’s big run through Big South Conference play.
Gardner-Webb also added speed and sensational defense with a smooth shortstop Alex Ray (Louisiana Tech), who started 59 games for an NCAA regional team in 2021 and hit a combined .282 during his career with the Bulldogs in Ruston, Louisiana.
Returning Letter Winners Bo Rusher III, A.J. Jones, Benino Mendella and Nate Anderson will also provide a spark for the Diamond ‘Dogs, with Rusher expected to share time behind the plate with the transfer Humberto Torres (Florida International). ace of defense Jacob Marcos also returns as a key cog in the outfield and Pierre Capobianco is a power bat with the potential to break through early and often in the range.
Gardner-Webb’s pitching team received a significant infusion of talent from a strong recruiting class.
Transfer to junior college Drew Janssen (Frontier CC) kicks off Friday against NJIT and the Antwerp, Belgium junior will be the first man from his country to play NCAA Division I baseball. The right-handed 5-10, 185 runs a solid mid-90s fastball that tops out at 96 mph.
Transfer graduate Joe Simeone (UConn) will start against No. 5 Virginia on Saturday. The native of Groton, Mass., made 50 appearances during his time at Storrs, including a debut last season against the Cavaliers. Simeone went 4.1 innings without a decision, with the Huskies winning the game in the bottom of the inning.
Back to second year Bobby Alcock will kick off against Bellarmine on Saturday night and enters a highly anticipated 2022 campaign. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-hander has continued to improve and has a fastball that he has traveled up to 97 mph. Alcock made 15 appearances last season as a rookie and had his longest outing of the year in the Big South Conference tournament vs Presbyterian.
The fourth starter this weekend for Gardner-Webb will be a 6-foot-4, 215-pound southpaw Tyler Switalski – a true freshman with high potential. The Waynesburg, Pa. rookie was one of Keystone State’s top prep pitchers last year and, along with each of his rotational mates, boasts an effective fastball that hits the 90s.
The bullpen also has plenty of power. North Dakota State Transfer Gabe Pilla and left-handed veteran Kyle Skidmore gonna eat the last innings and the second year lenny washington is another powerful arm that has the potential to make a big impact as a reliever early this season.
Full Jerry Bryson Classic Schedule
#5 Virginia vs. Bellarmine – 1:00 p.m.
Gardner-Webb vs. NJIT – 5:00 p.m.
Bellarmine vs. NJIT – 11:00 a.m.
Gardner-Webb vs. #5 Virginia – 3:00 p.m.
Gardner-Webb vs. Bellarmine – 7:00 p.m.
#5 Virginia vs. NJIT – 11:00 a.m.
Gardner-Webb vs. Bellarmine – 3:00 p.m.