Baseball’s seniors leave behind formidable legacy

Anthony Montalbano, Michael Waterhouse, Spencer Ross and Michael Cameron have been staple members of Swarthmore’s baseball team for the past few years, turning the Garnet into a conference competitor. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

On April 21, the baseball team will hold its Senior Day as it hosts conference foe Franklin & Marshall in a late-season doubleheader. Although the Garnet is likely out of contention for a spot in the conference playoffs, the game still holds monumental importance as the last home contest for a historic senior class. The class of 2012, which contributes 12 players to the current roster, is indisputably one of the most talented and successful in the program’s history.

In 2010, the team made its first appearance in the Centennial Conference playoffs in program history and advanced to the second round after beating Washington College 5-1.

Last year, the Garnet defeated conference powerhouse and then-No. 24 Johns Hopkins for the first time in over a decade, sweeping the Jays thanks in large part to the strength of its current senior class. The win was the program’s first ever over a nationally ranked opponent and marked the first time in four years that a conference opponent had swept Hopkins.

“To beat a team like Hopkins, not only once but twice was so special because when I first came to Swarthmore, kids on the team talked about Hopkins as if they were the Yankees,” Spencer Ross said. “No one believed that we could beat them.”

As of this writing, the team’s seniors have collected 71 total wins and 28 in conference play. For a point of reference, between 2002 and 2008, the program posted only 41 total wins and finished with double-digit wins once, earning ten victories in 2008. Since then, the team’s lowest win total has been 13 and it appears that this year’s campaign will continue the streak of consecutive 20-win seasons.

Not surprisingly, the class of 2012 will finish with the most wins of any class in the program’s history.

“We were the class that turned everything around. Swarthmore’s baseball program was essentially nonexistent before our class,” Sam Menzin said. “That is a testament to both our coaching staff as well as our close-knit group of guys—as we got older you could feel the energy and leadership shift towards our grade.”

“All the seniors are a special group,” head coach Stan Exeter added via email. “They have made our baseball program better and have helped shape its progress. Outside of all the records they hold, this class has changed the culture.”

Individually, the class of 2012 has excelled on and off the field, earning nine selections to the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll, five to the All-Conference team, and even one silver medal in the Canadian Junior National Baseball Championships. Four such standouts in the senior class are Anthony Montalbano, Mike Waterhouse, Mike Cameron, and Spencer Ross, all of whom will finish their illustrious careers at or near the top of several offensive categories.

Montalbano, a second baseman from Edison, N.J., has received two All-Conference honorable mentions (2009, 2011) and a place on the second team in 2010. His 168 career hits are second best all-time and he is only the third player in program history to pass the 150-hit plateau. Montalbano is also second all-time in runs scored (119), tied for second in doubles (38), tied for fourth in triples (9), and fourth in home runs hit (9). His 248 total bases is second all-time and his patience at the plate has allowed him to draw 61 walks in his career, which is sixth best in program history.

As a double major in English Literature and Psychology, Montalbano has immersed himself in the academic side of Swarthmore to an impressive degree. His life-long interest in reading drew him to his major and classes taught by Eric Song of the English Literature department have left strong impressions on him.

“I’ve taken three classes with him and they were all extremely fulfilling. He has a real passion for what he is teaching about, which makes his classes much more enjoyable,” Montalbano said. “I’ll definitely remember going to see Twelfth Night last semester for his Shakespeare seminar, as well as performing a fusion of two of Shakespeare’s plays.”

Montalbano plans to take a gap year after graduation in order to consider his post-Swarthmore options and may attend graduate school after this sabbatical.

Mike Waterhouse, a catcher from Weston, Conn, has received one All-Conference honorable mention (2011), and was named conference player of the week (3/14/11). He is also the program leader in games played (133), at-bats (484), hits (182), runs (127), doubles (41), walks drawn (79), and total bases (252). With 97 RBI so far in his career, Waterhouse is on pace to surpass Jimmy Gill ’10, who had 100 from 2007 to 2010, as the program leader.

Due to this incredible individual success, it difficult to believe that Waterhouse was an unattractive prospect for many schools beside Swarthmore, but due to his stature, several colleges did not even bother scouting him.

“As a high school senior, I was only 5’8’’ and 150 pounds, so it was hard for schools to take a look at me,” Waterhouse explained. “Coach Exeter believed in me and thought I had potential, and encouraged me to come here.”

Off the field, Waterhouse, who is majoring in psychobiology and minoring in chemistry, has been named to the conference’s academic honor roll twice and is particularly interested in behavior biology.

He plans to attend medical school after a post-graduation gap year.

Mike Cameron, a first and third baseman from Calabasas, CA., has been a go-to power hitter for the Garnet in his career at Swarthmore. He is the career leader in home runs (13) and has the distinction of being the only player in Centennial Conference history to have six RBI in one inning, which he accomplished against Arcadia on Apr. 26, 2009 after he hit a two-run homer and then a grand slam in the third inning. His three homers in that game are also tied for the Centennial best and his twelve total bases is one behind first. For Swarthmore, Cameron is also fourth all-time in doubles (31), and RBI (86), and fifth in total bases (196).

He is a political science major and peace and conflict studies minor who has gone abroad twice during his four years, first to Rome and then to Mumbai, India.

“Outside of the athletic sphere, I think my greatest achievement was successfully going abroad twice,” Cameron said. “I was able to study in two amazing places, study art history in Rome and take a graduate level finance course in India, while still being a varsity athlete.”

After graduation, he plans to attend Oxford University, studying the economic development and international relations of India.

Spencer Ross, a third baseman from Chappaqua, N.Y., received an All-Conference honorable mention during his sophomore season and has been incredibly productive on offense in his career. His 441 career at-bats are second al-time, and he is also fourth in career runs (107) and hits (135), third in total bases (208) second in RBI (91), and tied for second in doubles (38) and home runs (9).

“I will always remember Spencer as an ultimate competitor,” Tim Kwilos ’13 said. “As I’ve played with Spencer, I have come to know that he’s the type of guy who is always willing to do what he needs to do to help our team get a win.”

Indeed, Ross seems to thrive on intense competition and has the ability to succeed under pressure.

“As a kid playing ball in my backyard, I always imagined coming up to the plate with two outs and a runner on second in the 9th inning of a tie game,” he explained. “Those situations, where you have an opportunity to be ‘the man’ have always been my favorite and I think I will miss them the most.”

All 12 members of the senior class will be thoroughly missed by their teammates and will be remembered for their successful efforts in rebuilding the identity of the baseball program into that of a winning team. With significant contributions from its freshman, sophomore, and junior classes already, it appears that the team is poised to build off the historic success of the class of 2012 and continue to cultivate a winning culture.

The first pitch against F&M is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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