Chris Brown signs five for 2004
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

BEMIDJI, Minn. - Bemidji State head baseball coach Chris Brown announced the signing of five players to National Letters of Intent to play baseball for the Beavers beginning in 2004. Joining the BSU baseball team are Tony Meech, Matt Middendorf, Lee Pingel, Jared Podraza and Bryant Salamone.

•Tony Meech (RHP/1B, 6-1, 240, Sebeka, Minn.)
Quickly: A two-time All-Conference selection at Sebeka (Minn.) High... As a senior, hit .370 with three home runs and 39 RBI; 5-3 record as a pitcher... 14-5 career record as a pitcher... Career .345 hitter with 10 career home runs and 67 RBI... Hit for the cycle with two home runs and eight RBI against Nevis... Will compete immediately for playing time with an ability to hit and pitch... Will add depth to pitching staff and fielding units.

“Tony is one of those kids that kind of falls in your lap and you are grateful for having him,” Brown said. “He will be a great addition to the team, not only because of his abilities, but because of the kind of person he is.”

•Matt Middendorf (RHP/Util, 5-11, 175, Sauk Centre, Minn.)
Quickly: A junior-college transfer from Ridgewater (Minn.) CC described by Brown as a “play-anywhere, do-anything” type... Was an on-the-field leader for a Ridgewater team which made the NJCAA World Series in 2003... Expected to make an immediate contribution... All-State, All-Conference and All-Section in baseball in 2002 and an All-Conference and All-Section pick in 2001... Also an All-Conference pick in basketball in 2002.

“Matt is one of those guys you come to the ballpark to watch,” Brown said. “He’s a great kid from a good family, and he is also an excellent student. He should help us out offensively, defensively, as well as on the mound. We are excited to have Matt become a part of the Beaver baseball family.”

•Lee Pingel (LHP, 6-2, 210, Ashland, Wis.)
Quickly: An excellent all-around athlete who may be able to contribute elsewhere on the field... Will compete for innings right away and should be a force on the BSU staff... Posted a 13-3 record over final two years in high school; 6-0, 0.98 ERA as a junior, 7-3, 2.30 ERA as a senior... Threw complete games in regional championship and sectional championship, allowed only one earned run... Ashland’s starter in Game 1 of state tournament... Also earned All-Conference and Team MVP honors in football and was a state qualifier in wrestling.

“Lee is a hard-working kid who will only get better with time,” Brown said. “He has a world of potential. We are excited to have a person of his caliber come to BSU as an athlete and an individual.”

•Jared Podraza (Util, Jr-TR, 5-9, 175, Carter Lake, Iowa)
Quickly: Recipient of BSU’s Dale Ross Scholarship, given to an upperclassmen outfielder who portrays leadership skills on and off the field.. All-Region performer at North Iowa Area Community College; helped lead Trojans to 37-21 record in 2003... Hit school-record 17 doubles for Thomas Jefferson High School in 1999.

“Jared is a guy who will make an immediate impact here at BSU,” Brown said. “He’s a gamer who can play anywhere on the field. He not only brings us exceptional baseball skill, but leadership as well. We’re excited to have a person of his caliber and character in our program.”

•Bryant Salamone (LHP, 5-11, 175, Rockford, Ill.)
Quickly: Posted a 15-1 varsity record, including a 9-0 mark as a high-school senior a year ago with an 0.98 earned-run average... 94 strikeouts against just 16 walks in 53 innings pitched... Helped lead Boylan Catholic High to the Illinois state championship game... Selected to Illinois state all-star game... Described as a mature player; expected to make an immediate impact as a freshman.

“We are excited to have Bryant joining us next year,” Brown said. “He is a guy that got overlooked in his home state and a guy that we feel lucky to have signed. He’s a good student and person to top it off, so he will fit right in at BSU. I look for him to be a major contributor for years to come.”

Bemidji State posted a 15-27 record in 2003, Brown’s debut as head coach, but were an even 11-11 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play. Fall drills at BSU are underway.