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Eshleman commits to play baseball at Misericordia
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Brian Eshleman had some options regarding his baseball future after high school.
But when the nationally-ranked Misericordia University Division-III baseball team made it clear that they were interested, it made sense for the 2012 Warwick grad to listen.
Finding out that the Cougars will be moving into newly-constructed Tambur Field in the spring of 2013, with a new fieldhouse just beyond left field, was a big plus.
In the end, the hard-hitting catcher recently committed to continuing his baseball and academics careers at Misericordia, located in Dallas, Pa. near Wilkes-Barre.
Bridgewater College and Misericordia’s Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) rival Alvernia College were also in the mix, but Cougars’ head coach Pete Egbert and his staff made a favorable impression.
"The coaches are awesome (at Misericordia)," said Eshleman, who is currently undeclared in his major. "At Alvernia, I wasn’t dealing with the head coach as much as I was at Misericordia, and I felt like they wanted me more at Misericordia. They made me feel like they wanted me a little bit more, so that played a factor. The campus and the people are real nice up there, and they’re getting a new field, that’s a plus."
Warwick skipper Matt Gale said Misericordia is a good fit for Eshleman.
"You can’t go wrong if you’re going somewhere that gives you the best opportunity to play, and he’s certainly capable of playing there," Gale remarked. "He can only excel at that level. He certainly has the skills and the tools to be successful at the very least and maybe even excel beyond that."
Division-II Bloomsburg University in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) was also in the picture for awhile. That held some interest for Eshleman, as his twin sister Emily also plans to attend school there and his Lititz Legion teammate Andrew Geraghty is an incoming recruit with the Huskies.
The timing didn’t work out at Bloomsburg, but Eshleman is excited to don the Cougars’ blue and yellow uniform.
"I didn’t want to just jump to a conclusion and not be happy with where I’m at," he said. "I think I made the right decision, though. I’m happy going to Misericordia. They were the most impressive coaches that I was meeting, so I like them a lot."
Eshleman also likes Misericordia’s history of success in recent seasons. The Cougars are two-time reigning champions of the Freedom Conference, having knocked off DeSales in the finals of this year’s tournament in May. The 2012 season was one in which the Cougars also climbed into the top 10 in the d3baseball.com rankings. They ended up 21st after falling to number two-ranked Cortland in the NCAA Tournament.
The former Warwick star acknowledged that MU’s 36-10 record factored into his decision.
"I’d like to be on a successful team, so it was a big deal," Eshleman said. "I wanted to win."
The Cougars graduated starting catcher Chris Tuttle (.295 batting average) and senior backstop Andes Gonzales from that team. Eshleman was recruited as a catcher, but he will also have some competition at that spot, as sophomore DJ Kelleher is also currently listed on the Cougars’ roster.
In Eshleman, MU is getting a player who batted .370 in his senior season in the middle of Warwick’s batting order with one home run, four doubles and 12 RBI’s.
"(Brian)’s got a lot of power offensively," Warwick skipper Matt Gale said. "He knows the game, he’s versatile defensively where he can play a couple of different positions, he’s a hard worker, he’s a leader vocally and by example and he does have a strong arm."
In addition to playing catcher, Eshleman also has some experience at the corner infield positions. He played third as a sophomore before taking over the starting catcher’s spot in his final two seasons, and he has also played third and first this summer after suffering a shin injury in June.
"I got recruited as a catcher, but I could still possibly get corners, I’m not sure," Eshleman said. "I like (third base and catching), but I like catching a little bit more. You get more involved and you’re kinda like the field general. I like the leadership role. I liked that in high school too, so maybe I can do the same thing (at Misericordia)."
Eshleman is looking to at least to hit the ball the way that he did in high school. For his career at Warwick, he batted at a .324 clip with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 41 RBI’s.
"I need to work on defense a little bit more," Eshleman said. "But at least from when I’ve been getting recruited, I guess (my offense) is something that has pulled the coaches toward me."
Misericordia’s coaches are now hoping that Eshleman can help lead them to a third straight Freedom Conference title in 2013.
"The biggest thing is academics," Eshleman said. "I need to keep them up. But baseball’s a big thing too. I want to try to get a starting role and I want to try to contribute and hopefully win some more conference championships and go further in Regionals and maybe make it to the College World Series Division Three." More ESHLEMAN, page B-3