By Jeff Smyth
In May 2014, the Golden Bears took home their seventh Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Championship in program history. The Bears accomplished this with a score of 1-0. The lone RBI was provided by the number three hitter and first team All-PSAC East choice, Brandon Martinez. In early January, Martinez added to his resume when he earned his second straight preseason All-America honors.
The deciding championship RBI capped off a remarkable season for the center-fielder, a season that consisted of a .392 batting average, which was the fifth-best output in the PSAC. On the base-paths, Martinez was 35-for-36 on stolen base attempts, setting a new record for steals in a season. Defensively, the two-time all-region star held a perfect fielding percentage with 102 putouts.
Martinez also earned prestigious academic awards, including CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team honors. He is the first KU baseball player to earn the honor, as he also was named to the PSAC Top 10.
The preseason accolades did not stop there for the defending champs. Junior pitcher Matt Swarmer was mentioned as one of the “Players to Watch” by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Sophomore transfer Ben Eppley was dubbed as one of the “Newcomers to Watch”.
Swarmer provided his pitching duties out of the closers role for the bulk of the 2014 season. Swarmer appeared in 23 games during his sophomore season, posting a team-leading 10 saves in 37 innings. Starting in two games for the Bears, Swarmer collectively finished the season with a 2.19 ERA with a 3-2 record with 38 strikeouts.
Eppely, a sophomore transfer from Frederick Community College, hit .346 during his freshmen year in 46 games. He tallied seven doubles and one triple, while also scoring 34 runs and driving in 21.
Behind this nucleus, along with a significant amount of returning starters, the Golden Bears look to capture a second-straight PSAC Championship. KU opens up their 2015 campaign down in Hampton, Va. on Feb. 26 for the Builder Invitational. The Bears start off the weekend tournament against the College of St. Joseph.
A full preview for the 2015 baseball season will be available in the Feb. 12 edition of The Keystone.