Stonehill junior relief pitcher Armand Rugel is 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA for the Newport Gulls of the NECBL this summer.
EASTON, Mass. (July 15, 2014) – Stonehill College junior right-handed reliever Armand Rugel (Middletown, Rhode Island/Middletown) and pitching coach Greg Zackrison will represent the Skyhawks at the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) All-Star Game this Sunday, July 20th, at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Zackrison, who recently completed his first year as Stonehill's pitching coach, is in the midst of his second season as head coach of the NECBL's Plymouth Pilgrims. Zackrison's Pilgrims hold a 4.5 game lead in the Southern Division with a record of 21-6, and also own the best overall record in the league.
Under Zackrison's guidance, Stonehill's pitching staff flourished in 2014. The Skyhawks posted the lowest earned run average in the Northeast-10 Conference with 2.50 mark, which also ranked fourth in all of NCAA Division II. The former Massasoit Community College associate head coach oversaw a staff that boasted four All-Conference selections and three All-Region picks.
Junior righthander Jim Duff (Garden City, New York/Garden City) collected first team honors from the NE-10 and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and second team accolades from both Daktronics and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). The Long Island native, who went 8-2 with a 1.84 ERA this season, was drafted by the New York Mets in the 20th round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft last month, and he is currently pitching for the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League. Senior lefty Zack Soulier (Milford, Connecticut/Jonathan Law) led the NE-10 with nine victories, while also becoming Stonehill's all-time wins leader and earning ABCA All-East Region second team accolades. Freshman southpaw Jeremy Roberts (Reading, Massachusetts/Malden Catholic) turned in a solid campaign as well, posting a 2-1 record and a 2.70 ERA, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a selection to the NE-10 All-Rookie Team.
Rounding out Stonehill's All-Conference and All-Region pitching honorees is Rugel, who anchored the Skyhawk bullpen in 2014 with a career-best 13 saves, good for second in the NE-10, and a 1.16 ERA. The junior reliever pitched more than one inning in 12 of his 23 appearances, and he recorded four saves that took at least two frames of work. He held opponents to a .177 average in 38.2 innings on the hill, and his 37 punchouts ranked third on the team. Like Soulier, Rugel garnered NE-10 All-Conference and ABCA All-East Region second team honors. In addition, Rugel, Soulier, and Duff earned invitations to compete in the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) All-Star Game in early June.
This summer, Rugel has posted a perfect 3-0 record and a 1.96 ERA for the Newport Gulls, who are in second place in the Southern Division with a 16-10 mark. The Middletown, Rhode Island native has allowed 17 hits in 18.1 innings of work while striking out 21 and walking eight. Rugel did not allow a run over his first eight appearances (13 innings) of the season, striking out 16 batters and walking just four in the process.
The first pitch for this Sunday's All-Star Game at MacKenzie Stadium, the home of the Valley Blue Sox, is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Tickets are available online via the Valley Blue Sox beginning at $8 for adults and $5 for youths, seniors and military servicemen and servicewomen with valid military IDs. Prior to the start of the contest, the NECBL will also hold a skills competition, a 60-yard dash, and a home run derby as part of the all-star festivities.
The NECBL is a wooden bat college summer league that fields teams in all six New England States. Partially funded by Major League Baseball, the NECBL started play in 1994 and has sent over 100 alumni to the Major Leagues.