By John Reed
SC Staff Writer
The ESU Men’s baseball team got off to an electric start this season – opening with an eight-game winning streak. The team’s dominant performance has tapered off, but in recent games winning has again become contagious.
“I feel like we have got off to a pretty good start this season. We are currently 13-6 but I feel like we have yet hit our stride and played to our full potential,” said preseason All-American Chris Knott.
Knott is an Egg Harbor, NJ native – just a stone’s throw from Atlantic City. His family still resides in Egg Harbor, but trek to the baseball field when Chris is playing.
“I have the most supportive family I could ever ask for,” said Knott. “Whether it’s my parents and brother driving to most of my games out of state – as far as North Carolina – or my grandparents in Finland, on my Mom’s side, or in Florida, on my Dad’s side, following every article about the team.”
Heading into a big weekend against Shippensburg, Knott and his fellow Warriors tuned up against Philadelphia University by sweeping the doubleheader – with 13-4 and 8-1 victories.
“Coach K [head coach John Kochmansky] really has done a great job putting this team together and keeping us on track throughout the season so far,” said Knott.
“We have a lot of experienced players from last year’s PSAC Championship team and also a lot of new transfers and freshman who can really make an impact.”
The defending PSAC champions are looking to get hot at the right time as they begin a grueling portion of their schedule where they play against PSAC foes in twelve straight games.
“We are very hungry to get back to the playoffs and keep pushing this program into the right direction,” said Knott.
Due to inclement weather, the team has yet to play in front of their home crowd, but all that was supposed to change this past weekend with division-leading Shippensburg coming to town.
“It’s always exciting to have your peers be able to come to the games and show their support and school spirit,” said Knott.
Fate conspired against Knott and his teammates as all games were cancelled due to severe weather – even with postponements pushing them back in an effort to get games in on Sunday.
The team opened PSAC play against Millersville on March 21, with back-to-back doubleheaders.
The first three games – all losses – were painfully close, but the Warriors finished the series with an emphatic 7-2 victory.
“As a team we felt like we should have won at least 3 of the games but in the PSAC the smallest of mistakes can be the difference,” said Knott.
“We started off 1-3 in our first series last year as well so we know what it’s going to take to get back to the playoffs.”
Knott’s baseball schedule can get pretty hectic as he has been involved with Summer League teams over the past two years.
“In 2012, I played in Syracuse for the Syracuse Jr. Chiefs where we won the NYCBL and last year I played in Elmira, New York, for the Elmira Pioneers where we came in second place in the PGCBL,” said Knott.
“These were great experiences where I got to play for great coaches against competition from all over the country.”
Knott credits many people for lending him support as he has grown into the baseball player that he is today.
“I have such a great support system with my family, current coaches, former coaches, teammates, friends, and trainers that there is no one person I lean on, but many people that I can lean on for support or advice,” said Knott.
When asked about his time here at East Stroudsburg University, Knott mentioned that a few former ESU baseball teammates played key roles in supporting him and offering their guidance.
“Jeremy Gigliotti, Joey Bennie, and Brian Ernst have been the biggest mentors I have had since I have been here,” said Knott.
“I got to see these guys put in the time and hard work and watch it pay off for them with very successful careers at ESU and professionally.”
Heading into Monday’s doubleheader against Shippensburg, Knott carries a team-leading batting average of .465 and will look to extend his hold on the ESU record books – he currently is the career leader for RBIs and triples.
Knott is one total base from tying the mark of 297 set by Jacob DeBoer (04-07) and Ryan Hatfield (00-03). Knott is surpassing all of Hatfield’s records in recent weeks – he broke Hatfield’s career triples record on March 19.
“Mike Trout and Matt Szczur are two guys from my high school conference who I got to play against and now I see them have huge careers in the Minors and the MLB,” said Knott.
“They were the Atlantic County Player of the years in the years prior to myself being named it in 2010 so I use them as my motivation that anything is possible through hard work.”
As a senior, Knott plans to graduate with a degree in Health & Physical Education and hopes to continue his baseball career in the future – either as a player or coach.
“I’m hoping that a team gives me an opportunity through the draft but whatever happens my playing career will not be over,” said Knott.
“I also aspire to be a Physical Educator in my future which will give me the opportunity to be able to also coach the game.”
The end of Knott’s record-setting baseball career at East Stroudsburg does not signal the end of his playing days, or his passion for the game.
“Baseball will always be a part of my future plans whether it is playing or coaching” said Knott.
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