Knights head into the 2014 postseason with a 17-11 record

The end of the semester is finally here, so brings the conclusion to the NECC baseball regular season. The end of the regular season means just one thing — playoffs. The Knights stand at 17-11.

Entering the tournament as the second seed, the Knights are mentally ready to take it as far as possible this year. “I’m really excited about the playoffs. It’s a chance to show every team what we are really about. Nothing is going to stop us from getting ours,” said outfielder Elmidio Crisostome.

The Knights started off their 2014 season with the mindset of making it back to the NCJAA Division III World Series. Under head coach Jeff Mejia, nearly nothing seems impossible for the Knights. Mejia has proven that he was the perfect fit for the program. He came it, took charge, and molded the team into a potential championship team.

“Our main goal is to get back to the World Series down in Texas,” said Crisostome. “Our short term goal is to win the playoffs.”

Not only has Mejia been a great coach for the Knights, but he has also become a very close friend, a sense of guidance for the young players. He has pushed them to their full potential on and off the field, making sure they are focusing on their studies.

Coming off a slow start this season, Crisostome has been a great contributor for the Knights. Batting at .312, Crisostome has two home runs, eight RBI and eight stolen bases. “I get up offensively and defensively and just try to help my team out in any way I possibly can,” said Crisostome.

The team as a whole feels as if they could have done better. They are happy that they are in the playoffs, but not completely proud of their 17-11 record. The Knights have the potential to go undefeated but this season just as another season took a little extra time to get into the swing of things.

Right-hand pitcher Zachary Beckwith made his return to the mound this season after missing the 2013 postseason due to an injury. Ever since Beckwith stepped foot on the mound again, he’s been nothing but a force for the Knights. Very few players come back after an injury and exert the power and strength that Beckwith has shown on the hill. Beckwith stands with a 1.31 ERA thus far, notching 26 strikeouts and has only walking five.

Pitcher Ryan McAuliffe has been in the Knights rotation. Anytime McAuliffe steps foot on the hill, he transforms himself into a strikeout machine. McAuliffe has team-high 43 strikeouts for the Knights, with only nine walks and giving up only one home run.

Holding the teams highest average, Jonathan DeLaCruz has dominated at the diamond. Batting at .357, DeLaCruz has been a great asset for the team. The NECC outfielder has had big hit after big hit in 2014. DeLaCruz leads the team with three home runs and with 15 RBI. Putting his speed to work at the bases, DeLaCruz has 11 stolen bases. “Stealing has to be one of my favorite things to do on the field,” said DeLaCruz.

Catcher Harrison Smoske has also put on a show on the bases. Leading the team with 16 stolen bases, batting .349 and recording 14 RBI.

The Knights team this season is full of go-getters. The players started working off in the off-
season and continued to work even harder once the season started. The Knights is a team full of diversity and outstanding talent, and they want nothing but a championship and that’s what they are after.

“We won’t stop [until] we get it,” said pitcher Mauricio Peralta.

Knight’s baseball players on Mejia:

“Coach Mejia is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, on and off the field. It’s been an honor to be coached by him,” said Crisostome.

“I am very grateful and have been blessed to have an amazing guy such as Mejia. I look up to him. Coach was a major contributor in the successful season that I had last year and for the team as a whole seeing that we made it to the NJCAA World Series in his first year coaching at NECC,” said DeLaCruz.

“Coach Mejia is the man! He’s a smart man and also a great baseball expert. He makes it all worth it coming here to NECC. I’ve learned so many valuable things from him, not only in regards to baseball but also in life,” said Peralta.

“It’s been a pleasure playing for Coach Mejia. He’s a guy who’s been around the game for a very long time and knows exactly what he’s doing,” said shortstop Trevor Bouvier.

“He is a great coach. Last year he turned this team around; he’s been nothing but great to me and to the team, “ said Beckwith.

It’s safe to say that the NECC squad thinks Mejia is simply great.