2003 Rover News

The Morning Call's pitcher of the year is Joel Hockman
The Red Rover right-hander compiled an 8-2 record, had an ERA of 0.78 and struck out 90
June 20, 2003
By Ted Meixell Of The Morning Call To say that Easton senior right-hander Joel Hockman, The Morning Call's pitcher of the year, took the Lehigh Valley baseball community by storm this spring is clearly an understatement. Unlike the other contenders for the honor — guys like Bethlehem Catholic's Adam Bednarik, Parkland's Garrison Rausch and Brian Cope, Wilson's Eric Donaldson and Sean Heimpel and Liberty's J.T. Brotosky -— Hockman entered the 2003 season with neither a lengthy resume nor a huge reputation. Instead, Hockman, whose darting fastball belies his small stature, simply pitched his way into the Lehigh Valley's consciousness — and to our award. His stats were impressive enough: an 8-2 record in 11 starts; a hard-to-comprehend ERA of 0.78 (he allowed only eight earned runs in 72 innings); 90 strikeouts against only 21 walks, and his opponents' .205 batting average. A few others only underlined his overpowering performance: Hockman, the Korean-born adopted son of Mike and Diane Hockman, started half of his team's 22 games — and earned two-thirds of the Red Rovers' 12 wins. Almost instantly, he became a fan favorite, especially with the Rovers' student body. ''Some of his friends went to a mall,'' said Easton coach Carm LaDuca, ''and, somehow, they got hold of a Korean flag. They'd bring it to our games and run around waving it. Plus, they'd hang Ks up on the chain link backstop whenever he struck somebody out.'' Liberty coach Andy Pitsilos noted that, when he went to Veterans Stadium to watch the Lehigh Valley play in the Carpenter Cup, Hockman's fan club ran around the lower deck waving the Korean flag when he pitched the middle three innings. ''Believe it or not,'' LaDuca said, ''Joel probably did his very best pitching in his two losses and one no-decision.'' Indeed. In a 3-0 loss to Class 3A District 11 champion Parkland (and Rausch), Hockman allowed only four hits and two earned runs while striking out 11 Trojans. He carried a 1-0 lead, and a five-hitter, into the seventh inning of a 5-1 loss to Lehigh Valley Conference champion Liberty (and Heimpel). But his own throwing error on a bunt opened the gates to the Hurricanes' winning rally. And, although he didn't get the decision in Easton's District tourney-opening 2-1, 10-inning win over Pottsville, he pitched magnificently for the first nine innings, allowing just four hits and fanning eight. ''I didn't get the chance to pitch much early last season,'' Hockman said, explaining how he seemed to come out of nowhere. ''Steve Bakros was our ace, and he pitched most of the games. I started a few games late in the season, but my stats weren't very good because of a couple bad relief outings.'' How did he get so good, so fast? ''I worked very hard in the offseason on stuff I thought I needed to improve,'' he said. ''I played in the Fatzinger Fall League and was able to work on all four of my pitches — fastball, curve, changeup and forkball. Once school started, I did a lot of lifting, and I added a couple miles an hour to my fastball.'' Hockman's heater jumped from 2002 highs in the 70-mph range to the low-to-mid 80s this spring. But, said LaDuca, ''The biggest difference in Joel was that, unlike last year, he had complete command of all four pitches. And he kept everything down and on the black. Even when he missed, he missed low. '' Greg Hess worked so hard with Joel, and the results were astounding. Joel's motion is so mechanically sound; he pitches almost effortlessly.'' ''Coach Hess has made a tremendous contribution to my development as a pitcher,'' Hockman agreed. ''But so have all my coaches, including my Legion coach, Mr. Bisco, and Coach LaDuca. And I think my physical maturity helped a lot, too. I'm not very big now, but I was really small in ninth and 10th grades. In fact, I was so small I only made the team as a shortstop, not a pitcher.'' Hockman got big enough. And, with help from LaDuca, Hess and Bisco, he became a giant of a pitcher. Lehigh baseball coach Sean Leary, for one, took notice. And Hockman will continue his academic (did we mention that he's an even better student than he is a pitcher?) and baseball careers as a Mountain Hawk. ''Once I was accepted to Lehigh,'' Hockman said, ''it was simply a matter of waiting for a financial aid package to be worked out. Once it was, I committed right away.'' ''He'll do well at Lehigh,'' LaDuca predicted. ''He tied Jason Young's school record with eight wins, but a couple of Jason's came in the playoffs. Joel's all came in the regular season. ''Sometimes I wonder if Joel fully understands what he accomplished this spring. But we certainly do.'' ted.meixell@mcall.com Copyright © 2003, The Morning Call

Hockman sweeps EAHS awards
June 6, 2003
Joel Hockman has been chosen this years Eddie Snyder Award Winner and has also been selected for this years team MVP.

Luke Carlson is honorable mention for the Express-Times Player of the Week Award
April 17, 2003
Luke Carlson, a junior first baseman went 6-for-9 with 2 doubles and 1 RBI in the Red Rovers' 2-1 week

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