May 8, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Sophomore standouts Joey Marciano and Ryan Dunne are a potent 1-2 pitching punch for the John A. Logan College baseball team. Both will be in action this weekend at Rent One Park in Marion as the Volunteers attempt to win the Region 24 tournament.

A Chicago native, the lefthanded-throwing Marciano has put together a team-leading 7-3 record with a 2.77 earned-run-average. He has allowed 55 hits in 65 innings of work with 88 strikeouts and only 24 walks. His strikeout total ranks him ninth in the nation.

Marciano was recently named “Pitcher of the Year” in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference for the second straight year. He was also placed on the All-Region 24 team. He has already accepted a scholarship offer to pitch for SIU-C this fall.

“Coming out of high school, I had location problems with my fastball,” Marciano said. “Coach (Jerry) Halstead has helped me a lot. He has improved my mechanics. I am now more consistent at staying on top of the baseball when I follow through with a pitch. And I am much better conditioned to last seven, eight or nine innings.”

Listed at 6-foot-3, 215, Marciano said he is also throwing the ball harder now than he was in high school and that his curve is more consistently in the strike zone.

“Not having to worry about where I’m going to go to school next year is a big weight off my chest, too,” he said. “That has allowed me to focus only on pitching.”

Marciano said he never pitched competitively before his freshman year in high school.

“I saw a flyer in school about tryouts and decided I would give it a try. I was a pretty big kid at 15 and could throw pretty hard, I thought. Not only did I make the team, but by the end of the year, I was called up to the varsity. I have to give a lot of credit to my parents. They encouraged me every step of the way.”

Marciano said he is pleased that the Vols have turned their season around. After a 6-10 start, Logan has proceeded to win 20 of their last 25 games for an overall mark of 26-15.

“It’s been enjoyable to be a part of a winning program here the last two seasons,” the southpaw said. “I think we’re peaking at the right time. After all, it’s not about how you start the season, but rather how you finish.”

Marciano said he thinks the Vols are talented enough to win the regional and even the district tournament next weekend. If that were to happen, it would mean a trip to the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

“We just have to keep plugging away, stay consistent, and I think we will have a chance,” he said. “I like our team a lot.”

Marciano added that he is excited about the prospects of pitching for the Salukis next year and eventually getting a shot at pro ball.

“God willing, that’s the plan,” he said.

Dunne has also enjoyed a solid spring for Logan. He has posted a 4-3 record with a 2.59 ERA, allowed only 49 hits in 66 innings with 68 strikeouts and 31 walks.

Like Marciano, Dunne is a two-year starter.

“I came here to Logan looking to develop into a Division I prospect and feel I have done just that,” he said. “I wouldn’t change anything. Logan has been a great environment for me. I love this team. Coach Halstead has helped me improve my command of the strike zone. Even more important, he has helped with the mental part of the game. I feel like I understand the game much better now.”

Ryan is the son of a Major League pitcher, Mike Dunne (drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals and traded to Pittsburgh in the mid-1980s for catcher Tony Pena). He said his dad didn’t force the game on him, but it wasn’t a tough sell.

“His love for baseball really rubbed off on me,” Dunne said. “It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school, though, that he showed me how to throw the curve that I use today. He wanted to make sure my arm had enough time to develop. He also has taught me a lot about the game and how to mentally prepare myself before each start. He taught me about taking care of myself and keeping a good routine in between starts.”

A Peoria resident, Dunne said he is excited about his team’s chances of continued success in the postseason.

“I’m excited to lead my team into battle Friday against Lincoln Trail. I’m very proud of our team.”

The hard-throwing righthander, listed at 6-foot-3, 225, said he plans to decide which four-year school he will attend at the conclusion of the season. Missouri State is recruiting him hard as are Indiana State, Alabama-Birmingham, Louisiana Tech, and Ohio University.

“Playing Division I ball has been a goal of mine for some time now – that and making it to the Majors someday. I fully expect to play professional ball. I will put in the work and do whatever it takes to get there.”

Dunne is undecided regarding which field of study he will pursue at the next level.

“I’m still trying to figure that out,” he said.

Vols’ head coach Jerry Halstead praised the two sophomores.

“They’ve been solid since they walked on campus as freshmen,” he said. “They each pitched against conference teams last year in the rotation and gained some invaluable experience. And that experience has certainly paid off this year. Both have backed up strong freshman seasons with even stronger sophomore years.”

Halstead said Marciano is more of a strikeout pitcher than Dunne, but that both are “workhorses” and have anchored a pitching staff that is one of the more talented staffs in all of JUCO baseball.

“I would also add that both have been very dependable,” Halstead said. “You can pretty much mark them down for seven or eight innings and 100 pitches every time out. The reason they have enjoyed so much success is that they have learned to command their fastball and have developed effective off-speed pitches. When you are able to do that at this level, you are usually pretty successful.”

 

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Dr. Steve O’Keefe at 618-985-2828 ext. 8569 or email at steveokeefe@jalc.edu.