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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2011

St. John's grad a hot bat for surging Adrian team

West Toledoan powers Bulldogs in title hunt

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
St. John's grad Jake Cappelletty is a slugging star for Adrian College. St. John's grad Jake Cappelletty is a slugging star for Adrian College.
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St. John's Jesuit graduate Jake Cappelletty has notched his fair share of highlight-reel moments this spring as a slugger for the Adrian College baseball team.

Cappelletty, who grew up in West Toledo, has helped lead Adrian to a record of 24-6 overall, 17-1 in conference play. The first baseman, who is now a senior, has been an effective hitter in all four seasons for the Bulldogs.

He was named Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association's Position Player of the Week on April 19 after leading Adrian to a four-game series sweep of Alma College. He batted .538 to help the Bulldogs remain in first place in the MIAA. He went 3-for-3 with two runs scored in an 8-0 win over the Scots in the second game of a double header on April 16. He also went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in game one's 17-1 win.

He drove in four runs and scored three times in the series and made 33 plays in the field without an error.

"It's a really big honor for me," Cappelletty said. "It's really exciting, especially because it's my senior year."

He has improved his batting average every year at Adrian and is a .329 career hitter. In the latest Division III poll, Adrian was ranked 21st in the country.

The Bulldogs have won back-to-back titles in the MIAA. "We're looking for a three peat this year," Cappelletty said.

His freshman season, Adrian won a regional title and went to the Division III World Series. The Bulldogs went 2-2 and finished fourth in the nation. "We were the first team from the MIAA to make it to the World Series," Cappelletty said.

Adrian has qualified for the regional tournament in all three years of his career so far. He said two other local players have played a big part in the Bulldogs' recent success: Senior pitcher Ryan Domschot, who played at Whitmer, and senior third baseman, a St. Francis de Sales graduate.

Jake Cappelletty Jake Cappelletty
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Bilius leads Adrian with a .410 average and has 19 RBIs. Domschot, a left hander, was named MIAA pitcher of the week April 28. He has a 2.32 earned run average and has struck out 66 batters in 51 innings this spring.

Cappelletty said wanted to play basketball at St. John's but found the talent level to be too high.

His sophomore year, he said, he started focusing on baseball year round. He worked out all winter and followed specific baseball workouts designed for him by local trainers. Then he played baseball all spring and summer.

Although he was a pitcher as a little leaguer, Cappelletty moved to first base as a junior at St. John's and has been there ever since.

The Titans went 23-7 during his senior year, and Cappelletty was named first team All-City League and second team all-district.

As a freshman at Adrian he played in 39 games and batted .238 with nine doubles and three home runs. He ranked second on the team with 200 putouts in the field. During the Bulldogs' postseason run he batted .292 with three doubles and a home run.

"One of the highlights of my college career was when we went to the World Series and I hit a home run as a freshman," Cappelletty said.

As a sophomore, Cappelletty played in 42 of 44 games in 2009. He finished with a .320 average and tied for fourth on the team in doubles with 11. He also led the team in home runs with seven, the fifth-highest number of homers in a season in school history.

Last season as a junior, he posted a career-best .364 average. He had a .407 on-base percentage and 14 multihit games, including six three-hit games. He scored 25 runs, drove in 36 runs, and had two homers.

So far this season, Cappelletty has a .402 average. He has 10 doubles and 19 RBIs. Although he does not have a home run yet, he has a .459 on base percentage.

"I consider myself a power hitter," Cappelletty said. "I don't have a home run yet, but that is because I've been working on going the other way and using all the fields to get a higher batting average."

As his average has increased, the home runs have dropped off.

"But I'd rather hit .400 any day than hit .300 with a few more home runs," he said. "Every year the RBIs have gone up, too."

Cappelletty said perhaps the biggest moment of his collegiate career occurred when he drove in the winning run against one of the top D-III teams in the country earlier this season.

"We were playing Heidelberg and I had a walk-off single for the game-winning RBI," Cappelletty said. "There is no better feeling in the world to beat them and to be the guy is fun. We gave them their first loss of the year. I've experienced a lot of things in my life, but getting that winning hit was big."

Adrian now has fewer than 10 games left in the regular season, but the Bulldogs look to be a lock to qualify for the regionals once again.

Cappelletty said he plans to try out late this month for a spot on a team in the Frontier League, an independent professional league. He said he thinks he and teammates Domschot and Bilius could continue to play professionally.

"I think we all have a chance to make it," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed."

Cappelletty said he eventually would like to become a police officer and plans to attend the police academy at Owens Community College.

A criminal justice major, he spent last week juggling final exams with doubleheaders.

"It's not easy but you find time to get it done," Cappelletty said. "It's just part of going to college and being a student athlete."

He said he will miss being around his teammates.

"They've been my best friends for four years," Cappelletty said. "It's scary. I don't want it to be done. I don't want to go into the real world and get a real job. I want to make this last as long as possible."

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6354.



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