Rosedale, Md. -- After starting off the season 3-11, the Knights finished 21-10 including an 8-2 stretch that helped them to the No. 2 seed and bye in the Region XX Division II Tournament.
The Knights (24-21, 14-6 Region XX Division II) finished the season as the runner-up in their division, going 2-2 in the double elimination tournament.
CCBC Essex's second win over Garrett in the tournament was head coach Mike Carter's 200th career win as the field general of the Knights. His career record after nine seasons at the helm stands at 200-242 (.475) and he's guided Essex to winning seasons four of the last five years, including two regional titles (2016 & 2018), the program's first Northeast District title (2018) and a trip to the 2018 NJCAA Division II Baseball World Series.
Biggest bright spots
Saying that sophomore catcher Nolan Watson (Southern Regional) had a bounce back season is an understatement.
After batting .209/.312/.246 with four extra base hits and eight RBIs as a freshman, he led the team in all hitting categories (.382/.505/.580), had four homers, four triples and 11 doubles, while driving in 23 runs, all from the leadoff spot.
Watson, who has committed to NCAA Division I University of Dayton (Dayton, Ohio), was 27-of-30 (90%) in stolen base attempts and threw out just over 30% (13-43) of would-be base stealers. He also scored 51 runs, which also led the team, and was selected All-NJCAA Region Division II Second Team and All-Maryland Juco Conference Honorable Mention and was named team MVP.
Fellow Knights Gage Shaffer (Frankfort) and Nelson Laviosa (Ronal Reagan) have also had great success this year.
Shaffer batted .345/.464/.579 with eight home runs, 44 RBIs, eight doubles and a triple, which landed him All-NJCAA Region Division II First Team and All-Maryland Juco Conference Honorable Mention honors. While the freshman struck out 34 times in 180 plate appearances, he also drew 30 walks and scored 37 runs.
In addition to his hitting prowess, Shaffer also gave Carter an option as a late relief pitcher. He went 2-0 with a 3.55 earned run average in 12.2 innings pitched and struck out 15. In nine appearances, he held a 10.66 strikeouts per nine average and converted his only save attempt.
Laviosa also contributed offensively and after starting the season slow due to an early injury, the sophomore ended the season batting .297/.364/.426 with two homers, 10 doubles, 2 triples and 41 RBIs. He was also a perfect 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts and scored 27 runs.
The Miami, Fla. native made just two errors in right field, while posting a .965 fielding percentage. He was also selected All-NJCAA Region Division II Honorable Mention and All-Maryland Juco Conference Honorable Mention.
Luke Nakich (Archbishop Curley) was perhaps the most eager Knights this season. The redshirt sophomore missed the entire 2018 season with an injury; however, he did not disappoint this season, hitting .329/.407/.415 with a homer, seven doubles, one triple and 38 RBIs. He also scored 34 runs. His batting average (+.35) and on-base percent (+.41) saw dramatic increases as did his RBI output (+21).
Nakich has committed to Frostburg State University (Frostburg, Md.), which will begin competing next season as an NCAA Division II team. He will join former Knights Mitch Fyffe, Franco Velasquez and Celeb Smith who all played their junior season this year with the Bobcats.
Sophomore Robbie Leon (Parkville) started the season 17-for-70 (.242) with six RBIs in his first 23 games, but came on late in the season, hitting .390 (16-for-41) during a 13-game stretch with 15 RBIs. He finished the season with a .299 batting average and .438 on-base percentage, both huge improvements over his freshman campaign.
From an earned run average stand point, it was not a particularly great year for many Knights' pitchers; however, there were some shining moments.
Knuckleballer Armando Prieto (South Miami) had the lowest ERA among starters, posting a 5.17 in 38 and a third innings pitched. The freshman was 3-4 this season, struck out 23 batters and allowed just one home run.
His best start of the season came on April 14 in the front end of a doubleheader against Camden County, as he scattered three hits over six and a third with no earned runs and three strikeouts. In his next two starts (April 18 vs. Prince George's and April 23 vs. Stevenson JV), he went five innings in each, giving up just two earned runs on five hits in 10 innings and struck out three. The Knights went 3-0 in these starts.
Patrick Barrett (Southern Regional) was the team's work horse this season, logging 60.2 innings in 14 appearances (10 starts). He was 3-6 with a 5.79 ERA, pitched three complete games and struck out 52 (7.71/9-innings).
Barrett's best game of the season came on April 20 against Frederick, the eventual Region XX Division II Champion. In the first game of a doubleheader, he pitched all seven innings and shut the Cougars out, giving up just one hit and striking out nine.
The righty's next best start came in a losing effort on April 30 in game one of a doubleheader against Garrett, as he again went all seven and gave up just one earned on seven hits, while striking out eight.
Barrett would get his revenge against the Lakers on May 10 in the semifinal round of the regional tournament. He would allow just one earned on five hits and strike out five in route to a 5-2 Knights victory.
Freshman Jeff Young (Eastern Tech) threw the second most innings on the team, finishing with 51.2 in 13 appearances (11 starts). The lefty went 7-3 with a 5.92 ERA, had 38 strike outs (6.62/9-innings) and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four starts.
His best start of the season came on May 11, an elimination game against Garrett in the regional tournament. Young pitched a four-hit, 9-inning complete game shutout, while striking out eight, including the side in the ninth.
Freshman Carson Coffey (Flagler Palm Coast) had an up and down first-year, but ultimately settled down to pitch to a respectable 4.41 ERA. He made 22 appearances, all in relief, striking out 24 in 32.2 innings pitched.
His longest outing came on May 14 against Frederick in the regional title game. Trailing by double digits, Coffey allowed just one earned on four hits in four innings.
Rocco Marquez (Espacioa) was named the team's most valuable pitcher and while his 8.93 ERA may not denote it, his bulldog mentality down the stretch did.
In his final 12 appearances heading into the tournament, Marquez went 4-0 out of the bullpen with a 4.20 ERA in 30 innings, allowed 14 earned runs and struck out 15. The Knights went 9-3 in games he appeared.
Taylor Moore, Mario Diaz and Robert Eriksen contributed to this article.