Penn State Altoona baseball picked third in AMCC preseason coaches' poll

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Penn State Altoona Athletics held its annual Intercollegiate Athletics Honors Ceremony on Sunday, May 1, hosting student-athletes, coaches, and department staff for an evening of individual and team recognitions.

Credit: Penn State

NORTH BOSTON, N.Y. — The Penn State Altoona baseball team was voted third in the 2024 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference preseason coaches’ poll, which was released by the conference office on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Alfred State College took first place in the poll, after the Pioneers finished atop the AMCC regular season standings last spring. Penn State Behrend was voted second, and defending conference tournament champion Penn State Altoona was picked to finish third.

Penn State Altoona finished with a 20-27 overall record last season, including a 5-9 mark in the AMCC that gave the Lions the sixth and final seed in the conference tournament. After getting into the postseason, Penn State Altoona went on an impressive run that culminated in the team winning the tournament to achieve its third AMCC championship title in program history. The Lions went on to make their second-ever NCAA Division III Tournament appearance, competing in the Baltimore Region bracket.

Head coach RJ Barnard returns for his eighth season at the helm of the Penn State Altoona baseball program. The Lions’ 2024 roster will be heavy on returners, as the team brings back 25 players from last year’s AMCC championship-winning roster.

Named in the preseason poll as “Players to Watch” for Penn State Altoona this season were utility player Jake Hillard, of State College, and first baseman Jonathan Rauch, of Pittsburgh.

Hillard was a second-team All-AMCC selection last season. He ranked fourth in the AMCC in runs (44), 10th in hits (55) and walks (23), 11th in doubles (12) and home runs (4), 13th in total bases (79), 17th in runs batted in (29), 23rd in slugging percentage (.465), 25th in batting average (.324), and 28th in on-base percentage (.411).

Rauch ranked first in the AMCC in hit by pitch (19), sixth in RBI (44) and triples (2), seventh in home runs (6), hits (59), and total bases (86), eighth in on-base percentage (.492), 10th in batting average (.388) and slugging percentage (.566), and 11th in runs (39).

Penn State Altoona baseball opens its 2024 schedule on the road Saturday, Feb. 24, when the Lions will head to Staunton, Virginia, to face nonconference opponent Mary Baldwin University in a doubleheader starting at noon.