Worcester County baseball players are making an impact at Division 1 colleges
The 2022 NCAA Division 1 baseball season kicked off last weekend. Here’s a sampling of the many Central Massachusetts stars playing at the D1 level to watch this spring:
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Coleman Picard, Bryant University (Auburn/Auburn High)
Second year, pitcher
Picard, who played eight games last season for the University of Hartford, is one of six transfers from Bryant’s pitching squad this year.
In the Bulldogs’ 10-inning win over No. 12 East Carolina last Saturday, Picard, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-hander, picked up the win after pitching 2-1/3 innings of aimless relief. Bryant won all three games at East Carolina and became the first Northeastern Conference baseball team to sweep a three-game series against a nationally ranked opponent.
Picard, a T&G Super Team selection, helped Auburn win the Division 3 championship as a rookie and finished his high school career 10-2, with a 1.42 ERA and 107 strikeouts. He pitched 12 innings out of the bullpen for Hartford and went 1-3 his first season.
Tyler Mudd, Holy Cross (Shrewsbury/St. John’s High/Deerfield Academy)
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound southpaw Mudd made his first college start in Game 1 of the Crusaders’ doubleheader in Troy last Saturday. It was a tough outing for Mudd, who allowed 11 earned runs in 4⅓ innings, and a tough weekend for HC, who gave up all four games at Troy, but Mudd plans to play a key role on the pitching team. of Holy Cross this spring, while also seeing time in the outfield.
In each of HC’s other games this past weekend, Mudd started in center field, hit the first hit and had three hits.
After playing for two years at St. John’s, where he was a reserve on the Pioneers’ Division 1A state title team in 2017 and a starting pitcher and one of the Pioneers’ top sophomore hitters, Mudd has transferred to Deerfield Academy.
At Deerfield, Mudd earned New England Baseball Journal New England Second-Team honors in 2020 and 2021.
John West, Boston College (Shrewsbury/Shrewsbury High
Second year, pitcher
The 6-foot-8, 250-pound West, a right-hander, made his first career start for the Eagles against Austin Peay last weekend. West allowed 6 earned runs on 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out 3 in 3⅓ innings and did not consider the call. Austin Peay outlasted the Eagles, 18-17.
As a BC rookie, West made 10 appearances out of the bullpen and went 1-0 with 11 strikeouts in 9⅔ innings of work.
West, who was a T&G Super Team winner in baseball and basketball, led Shrewsbury to his first Division 1 Finals appearance in 19 years as a junior, when he went 3-2 with an 0 ERA, 87 and 45 strikeouts and 15 walks in 32⅓ innings.
He played for the Shrewsbury Post 397 team that made it to the American Legion World Series.
Kevin Skagerlind, UMass (Holden/Wachusett Regional)
Second year, outfielder
Skagerlind, the former Wachusett tri-sport star (baseball, soccer, hockey), had an immediate impact last season for the Minutemen. He saw action in 42 games with 39 starts in center and right field, made no mistakes and led the team with 15 stolen bases. The 6-foot, 195-pound Skagerlind hit .239.
UMass opens the 2022 season on March 4 in Georgetown.
Skagerlind, considered one of the best all-around athletes in Wachusett history, scored more than 100 points in football and hockey, leading those teams to three combined Central Mass titles. as well as a state hockey championship. He helped the Mountaineers qualify for the 2018 Super 8 baseball tournament.
Skagerlind was the home team’s 2020 Male Athlete of the Year.
Jonathan Santucci, Duke (Leominster/Philips Andover)
Prior to the season, Duke coach Chris Pollard called Santucci “one of the most talented two-way players in college baseball”.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Santucci, who bats and throws on the left, hit .322 in his career at Philips Andover, made a few pitching appearances, was a 2021 Perfect Game All-American first team and ranked as one of the Top 60 rookies in the nation and second overall from Massachusetts.
In his collegiate debut last weekend, Santucci faced three batters in the seventh inning of the Blue Devils’ 8-7 victory over VMI.
Santucci, who participated in the inaugural MLB Draft Combine last summer, is part of Duke’s newcomer class (freshmen and transfers) that D1Baseball.com ranked 10th nationally.
Matt Shaw, Maryland (Brimfield Academy/Worcester)
Second year, infielder
After earning Freshman All-American honors from Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball in 2021, Shaw started his sophomore season with a sizzling performance in the Terrapins’ three-game sweep against Baylor.
Shaw, Maryland’s starting shortstop and No. 3 batter, hit .538 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs.
Last season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Shaw, who earned Big Ten All-Freshman accolades, started 45 games and led the team and ranked seventh in the Big Ten. with a batting average of .332. He also led the Terrapins with 61 hits and 16 doubles.
Shaw played at Worcester Academy and helped the Hilltoppers reach the semi-finals of the Central New England Prep School baseball tournament in his junior season.
Barry Walsh, Boston College (Sterling/Wachusett Regional)
Walsh showed his versatility for the Eagles as an outfielder, DH and relief pitcher.
In last weekend’s 2022 home opener at Austin Peay, Walsh started all three games at center, had four hits and drove in a run.
The 6-foot, 195-pound, two-time T&G Super Team winner played 15 games last season with four outfield starts. He batted .200 and had a .385 slugging percentage.
As a freshman in BC, Walsh, a right-hander, made four appearances out of the bullpen.
In his senior season at Wachusett, Walsh went 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 31 strikeouts, while batting .364 and on defense.
Cross Jenkins, New Jersey Institute of Technology (Barre/Quabbin Regional)
Second year, pitcher
Jenkins pitched 3⅓ scoreless innings and took the victory in relief as NJIT beat Bellarmine, 9-3, last Saturday.
Last season, Jenkins, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander, tied for the second-most appearances of any NJIT pitcher with 14, all out of the bullpen. Prior to the NCAA Tournament, he did not allow a run in seven straight appearances.
He hit a season-high five batters in a scoreless 3⅔ innings against UMBC. Jenkins finished 2-0 with one save and a 5.33 ERA.
His junior season at Quabbin, Jenkins threw two hits and went 7-1 with a .41 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 14 walks in 56⅓ innings.
Tyler Nielsen, Maine (Grafton/St. John’s High)
Second year, pitcher
As a freshman, Nielsen went 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA. In his best performance of the season, Nielsen pitched six scoreless innings and struck out five to earn a victory over Albany and help the Black Bears earn a berth in the America East tournament.
Nielsen, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound southpaw, has made eight appearances and four starts in 2021, struck out 24 and walked 11 in 28⅔ innings.
Nielsen was a Central Mass star. Conference in St. John’s in 2019.