By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. -- Scott Kushner took a gamble most coaches in the Division III ranks all eventually must take when dealing with the unknown qualities of high school athletes. They don't have the luxury of their Division I brothers who can recruit in bulk and afford to sometimes come up short in the talent evaluation pool.
So despite Danville's Mitch Renz having pitched only his junior year in high school and missing all of his senior campaign with a torn ACL, Kushner, the Centenary College head baseball coach, felt something good about the Danville and recruited the former Ironmen standout for his program.
"When you see high school athletes, in many cases, you don't get a look at the finished product," the Cyclones coach said. "We were aware of his injury but, after spending time with his family and coaches, I came away with a good feeling and got the impression based on his work ethic and other reports he'd be a good fit for our program.
"We had to shut him down his freshman year after pitching only five innings in relief but what we saw in that short time indicated we had something special and only had to cultivate it and bring him along and good things could possibly happen."
Good things might be an understatement when discussing the breakout campaign Renz had for the Cyclones this past year.
Renz finished with a respectable 4-2 record but his statistics were out of this world and impressive on any level of pitching, ranking him with some of the best in the country in NCAA Division III play.
In nine games started, the sophomore hurler allowed only 50 hits in 58 innings on the mound and allowed only nine earned runs, finishing with an earned run average of 1.40. That was good enough for a ranking of 24th nationwide. But the best was yet to come.