2006 Baseball SEASON PREVIEW 02/15/05...With a combination of youth and experience, Head Coach Todd Williams' (9th season) 2006 Mountain Cats are primed to improve on last season’s 26-16 record. The Mountain Cats are led by seniors Justin Ronan (Lilly, Pa.), Brian Chruscial (Irwin, Pa.), Casey Long (Johnstown, Pa.), and Josh Mearkle (Everett, Pa.). Ronan is just three wins shy of breaking the school record for career wins after recording five victories last year. Long needs 13 homeruns to rewrite the Mountain Cat record book, and Chruscial returns to the mound for his third season as the Mountain Cats closer. Mearkle will share time behind the plate with junior Paul Pentz (Johnstown, Pa.) after batting .270 in 2005. While Coach Williams will rely on his senior leadership, the Mountain Cats will need strong performances from underclassmen. Six freshman pitchers make up the 13-man pitching staff . Ronan, who was granted a Medical Red-Shirt, has worked hard to return for his senior season as the Mountain Cats ace. As many new faces take the mound, the Mountain Cats need to match their .335 batting average from a season ago. In each of the last five years, Pitt Johnstown has batted over .320. The team will be powered by junior outfielder/pitcher Adam Plummer (Bellwood, Pa.), a consistent hitter chosen to play in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League this summer. Plummer batted .315 in 2005 and led the Mountain Cats with 17 doubles. Plummer, Ronan, and juniors Pentz and Cody Gallaher (Sidman, Pa.) were named team captains for the 2006 season. Selected to the ESPN The Magazine All-District Academic Team, Pentz hit .360 as a sophomore. In addition ot his catching duties, Pentz could also be used as a designated hitter in the Mountain Cats' lineup. With his excellent speed and a quick bat,Gallaher will be Coach Williams' leadoff hitter . Appearing at second base and left field, Gallaher hit .394 last year and led the team with 56 hits. If the Mountain Cats can get runners in scoring position, the team will call upon Long to drive them home. Long, slated to bat in the clean-up position, has proven to be the team’s most dangerous slugger after hitting 10 homeruns and driving in 42 runs last year. The Mountain Cats will also rely on quality depth, team defense, and strong outings from veteran and freshman pitchers. Ronan returns for his fifth season and will need to set the tone for the inexperienced staff. In the late innings, the Mountain Cats will count on Chruscial, who has made 37 appearances on the mound in his Pitt-Johnstown career. The senior had a 2.60 ERA last season and has recorded eight saves as a Mountain Cat. The Mountain Cats are optimistic they can be one of the six teams to represent the North Atlantic Region in the 2006 Regional Tournament. For that to happen, Coach Williams’ team must show the consistency that the 2005 team did not show at times during the season by splitting eight double-headers. If Pitt Johnstown can turn those splits into wins, it could be an exciting and successful season for the 2006 Mountain Cats. Pitt Johnstown is scheduled to open the season with four games at Concord (WV) University on February 24-25, before traveling to Fort Pierce, FL for the annual Spring Trip from March 5-10. The Mountain Cats will play their home opener against Fairmont State (WV) College on April 2 at 1:00 p.m.