Random Thoughts for Kicks and Weekend Preview 4/31

Sam Berry '15 has emerged as a stud for Bates down the stretch. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Sam Berry ’15 has emerged as a stud for Bates down the stretch. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Before diving into a somewhat amended weekend preview, I wanted to get a couple of thoughts out there that have nothing in common with each other. Also a note on the relative down tick in articles this spring: things come up (schoolwork mostly, nothing serious) and so I have written less. Apologies, and we want to thank everybody for sticking with us this spring.

1. Tufts loves to get hit by pitches: One of the few statistics I don’t keep track of really is HBP, but it really is a skill for hitters. The Jumbos excel at it with five of the top-six most-struck players hailing from Medford. As a unit, Tufts has been hit by a pitch 82 times; Bates is the next highest at 49. What we have heard is that this fits into a more general strategy for Tufts where they tend to crowd the plate and hit the ball the other way a lot. Considering that this year will be the seventh consecutive when they lead the NESCAC in that category, it certainly makes a lot of sense.

2. Mike Odenwaelder has a shot at 100 Total Bases: Getting to the century mark is something that no NESCAC player has done since 2010 when three players broke the mark. They must have been juicing the balls or something because Trinity’s James Wood hit 13 homers but didn’t even lead the league in that category because Noah Lynd hit 15 for Bates. These were, of course, the BESR days as well. Ah, the good old days… It’s actually worth it to take a trip down the rabbit hole and look at the NESCAC Statistics Page from that year. Anyway, Odenwaelder leads the league with 78 right now through 29 games (2.69 per game). Amherst has five games left in the regular season, and then there is the NESCAC tournament and potentially the NCAA tournament as well. At his current pace he needs 8.2 games to reach 100. It could be tight.

3. Two Freshmen on Bowdoin are named Max Vogel:  Alright, so one is named Max Vogel and the other is Max Vogel-Freedman, but still pretty crazy right? We haven’t been able to figure out the exact story behind it, but you should know that both are capable ballplayers deserving of their spots on the team. One can imagine that it can be difficult for the coaching staff to talk to them. Also, one is a catcher and the other is a pitcher. I for one am rooting whole-heartedly for a Max Vogel-only battery someday.

4. Amherst gets caught stealing a lot: The generally accepted breakeven success rate for stealing bases is about 75 percent according to Fangraphs.com. Most teams are well above that success rate. Middlebury has the best success rate (7-8), but they hardly ever steal so they’re not a great example. But the Jeffs are an outlier. They are third in the league with 48 stolen bases, but where they blow everyone away is in the caught stealing department. They have been caught stealing 23 times. No other team has been caught more than nine times! A good amount of those caught stealings come from early in the season which is probably the Jeffs just testing if different guys can steal, but that still doesn’t account for the whole difference.

Huge start this weekend for Sean Meekins '15 as he tries to get Trinity back to the playoffs. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Huge start this weekend for Sean Meekins ’15 as he tries to get Trinity back to the playoffs. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Weekend Preview

Only one series matters this weekend: Trinity at Bates to decide the second playoff spot in the East. The rest of the games are basically white noise that could tell us which players are doing well and which are struggling, but they don’t matter much in the big picture of things. Just to lay it out for you: Bowdoin is 6-6, both Trinity and Bates are 4-5. Trinity gets into the playoffs if they win two or all three games, Bates gets in if they take all three, and Bowdoin gets in if Bates takes two of three. Bad news for Bowdoin is that no matter the outcome of the first two games, either Bates or Trinity will enter the final game already eliminated.

Trinity X-Factor: Starting Pitcher Jed Robinson ’16

The Bantams have leaned on their starting pitching to get into this position, but Robinson does not have a win in conference play. He owns a 4.74 ERA in conference play but has a 2.41 ERA over the course of the year. Now is the perfect time for Robinson to come up big and go deep into a game for Trinity. He has never pitched against Bates which gives him a major advantage early in the game as they try to figure out his stuff. Robinson should also eschew from chasing strikeouts and focus on pounding the zone. Six of his nine walks on the season have come in his conference starts, and he has also had more strikeouts in those starts. Better for him to keep things simple and rely on his defense.

Bates X-Factor: Third Baseman Sam Berry ’15

The senior Berry has been far and away Bates’ best hitter in conference play. He is hitting .447 and has an astronomic .816 slugging percentage. He has hit safely in his last 14 games, and half of those games have been multiple hit performances. Just last weekend against Tuft he went off and had three home runs. He and Nate Pajka ’15 supply the vast majority of the power in the middle of the lineup. The guys in front of him need to get on base and force Trinity to pitch to Berry, who is one of the hottest hitters in the league right now.

Projected Starters:

Friday 3:00 PM: Jed Robinson ’16 (Trinity) vs. Connor Colombo ’16 (Bates).
Saturday 12:00 PM: Sean Meekins ’15 (Trinity) vs. Connor Speed ’18 (Bates).
Saturday 2:30 PM: Nick Fusco ’18 (Trinity) vs. Will Levangie ’15 (Bates)

Expect a playoff atmosphere at Bates with a larger than normal crowd because Bates students are on their ‘short term’ and have minimal class commitments at the moment. That should make it a fun one to watch.

The pitching matchups in this one carry a good amount of uncertainty. Both teams will start one freshman in a big spot. Both managers will also be ready to pull one of the starters early at the first sign of trouble. In this respect Trinity might have a slight advantage because Bates was forced to pitch some of their relievers in their loss to Bowdoin on Tuesday. The advantage is pretty minimal, mind you. We have talked before of how important Sean Meekins ’15 has been for Trinity, and Connor Colombo ’16 has been of similar importance for Bates.

The Trinity offense is certainly not what one would call dynamic, but they have come through with a lot of big hits. Having Brendan Pierce ’18 back in the lineup after he had to miss five games for a suspension is big for them. He is really the only player who can say they have hit particularly well as the team has only a .244 average in conference games.

The outcome of this series will probably rest on the shoulders of the Bates offense. Even though the Bates pitching might be shaky, Trinity is not going to blow anybody out. They have not scored double digits in a game all season. Bates needs to be able to get at the starter quickly and force the Bantams into their bullpen early. The Bobcats are a patient team overall but they can’t simply wear down the Trinity starters. Rockwell Jackson ’15 at the top of the lineup has to get on early and often. Winning all three games is not going to be easy for the Bobcats.

Somewhat hard to believe that the Bantams simply need to win this series in order to make the playoffs. They were 2-5 after dropping their opening game to Bowdoin, but the morass in the East has made it possible. I don’t think this will be the prettiest series to watch, but the end result is that one team will be celebrating a playoff berth.

Prediction: Trinity wins two of three and makes the playoffs.

Wesleyan Remains on Top: Stock Report 4/27

Bowdoin celebrates their 7-4 win over Colby in the first game of their series. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Bowdoin celebrates its 7-4 win over Colby in the first game of their series last weekend. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

After spending the first month of the NESCAC schedule beating up on the rest of the NESCAC West, Wesleyan and Amherst met this weekend to settle who would finish on top in the division. The answer was quite a resounding one in favor of the Cardinals. They dominated the Friday game racing out to a 10-0 lead before Amherst scored five runs late to make the final score look closer. On Saturday, Wesleyan completely shut down the Amherst offense winning 1-0 and 2-0.

The series meant little in practical terms because both teams were making the playoffs regardless, but this was a huge win for the Wesleyan program. First of all, it clinched a third consecutive Little Three Title. Secondly, the weekend reinforced that the Cardinals are the best overall program in the league right now.

The gap between this Wesleyan team and the rest of the NESCAC is sizable, but it certainly isn’t an uncrossable chasm. The Cardinals are winning because they are a more complete team, but they tend to play close games. They rely on their pitching and defense much more than their hitting, and if a team can find a way to string a few hits together, we will see them lose at some point.

Stock Up

Wesleyan Starting Pitching

The principal reason for the sweep was the trio of Nick Cooney ’15, Sam Elias ’15 and Gavin Pittore ’16. The three had almost identical starts, all of which were extremely impressive. Cooney set the tone on Friday when he went seven scoreless innings working around four walks. Pittore got stronger as the second game went along and retired 15 of the final 16 batters. Then Elias ended things by going all nine innings and faced only two batters more than the minimum. All three have pitched like legitimate aces this year, and both Pittore and Elias own ERAs below 2.00. Cooney has also been fantastic except for one rough start against Pomona-Pitzer. All three are also exceptional at going deep into games and average more than six innings per start. That ability to go deep into games has helped Wesleyan hide their only potential weakness: lack of pitching depth. Only nine players have pitched innings for the Cardinals this year. No other NESCAC school is in the single digits.

Drama in the East

As expected, that race for the second spot in the East has descended into near chaos. Worth it to go look at the standings, but Bates is still in the second spot at 4-4 with four games still to play. Bowdoin and Trinity are still also in the mix at 5-6 and 4-5 respectively. There is a crucial game on Tuesday night as Bowdoin and Bates are meeting to finish up their series. Obviously the game is a must-win for Bowdoin, which kept its playoff hopes alive by taking two of three from Colby this weekend. As for Bates, they had a chance to get close to locking up their playoff spot after taking the first game of their series against Tufts. However, since they lost the next two games to drop to 4-4, they fell back into the confusion. We won’t know who captures the spot until Saturday when Bates and Trinity play their doubleheader.

Starting Pitcher Jjay Lane ’15 (Hamilton)

This year has been a tough one for Lane overall, but he came up huge for the Continentals this weekend. He had been roughed up in his first two starts in conference, but he found a way to come up huge on Saturday. He got the start in the series opener against Williams and was able to go eight innings allowing two runs and Hamilton won 3-2. Lane had success in part because he was able to finally strike some people out. Before Saturday, he had not struck out ONE batter since March 17, an eternity for the NESCAC baseball season. Then out of nowhere he struck out six Williams batters which quadrupled his season total. Cole Dreyfuss ’16 continued his fantastic pitching in the next game to give Hamilton the sweep of the Saturday doubleheader. This is a resilient group, and they will be hungry to hand Wesleyan their first conference loss next weekend.

Stock Down


Disappointing finish for the Ephs dropping two of their three games to Hamilton and dropping to 4-8 for the year. They lost seven of their last eight after starting the conference season by sweeping Middlebury. That makes now two of the last three years that Williams has finished at 4-8 and well outside of the playoff race. We were hoping for more balance this year from Williams, and they did end up being more balanced though not quite like we were hoping them to be. The offense came up just short in the a lot of spots where the pitching was good enough to give the team a chance. The good news is that the top four OBP performers on the team were all sophomores and freshmen. Adam Dulsky ’18 will be able to take over full time catching duties which will ease the departure of Phil McGovern ’15. Also, the easiest place for Williams to improve is their fielding which also cost them a couple of games.

Defensive Karma

Well, in a way this is a stock up, but I’m sure Colby would consider it a negative. A year ago Bowdoin saw their playoff chances come crashing down when an error against Colby extended an inning and allowed the Mules to score four more runs. This year a Colby error in the top of the second let Bowdoin score four runs in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader. Three consecutive two out hits from Sean Mullaney ’17, Chris Cameron ’15 and Erik Jacobsen ’15 were the straws that … wait for it … broke the Mules back. Colby ended up falling 5-3 and the loss brought them to 4-7 and officially out of the playoff race. They were our pick to capture that final playoff spot, but they will miss the playoffs because they were not able to sustain the pitching gains they made a year ago.

NCAA Tournament Chances

I have to confess that I know little about the inner workings of the Division-III NCAA Baseball tournament. In part because it takes place during Finals or the beginning of summer vacation, I have never gotten very invested in the results the same way I do the basketball tournament. Still, I have to think the NESCAC will have trouble matching the three teams that made the tournament last year. Wesleyan should be solidly in, but both Tufts and Amherst have worse resumes than they did a year ago. Useful tool to look at is the D3Baseball.com Strength of Schedule Page. From that we can tell Tufts and Amherst have opposite problems. The Jumbos own a gaudy win-loss record but are only 125 in SOS while Amherst has a good SOS but lacks the record. My gut says that only one of those two teams is going to make it depending on who finishes stronger the next few weekends (and assuming that Wesleyan can repeat as NESCAC champs).

Ranking the Individual Team MVP’s Thus Far

Mike Odenwaelder '16 has thrived in his junior year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Mike Odenwaelder ’16 has thrived in his junior year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

When I started to put together the Power Rankings for this week, I realized something important. Not much has really changed. While we still don’t know how things are going to shake out in the East, so far things have played out predictably and we have a good idea on how good each team is. So I decided to switch things up and go back and figure out who the MVP for each team was. Then once I had those settled, I went back in and ranked each player in order of performance so far this year. Just for kicks, I put the team’s Power Ranking from two weeks ago next to it just to give you an idea of how they match up.

10. Catcher Max Araya ’16 (.317/.442/.349): Middlebury (Team Rank: 10): Admit it, you were expecting Dylan Sinnickson ’15 in this spot. However, Sinnickson has come back to earth after that earth-shattering start. He hasn’t hit a home run since Middlebury’s third game of the year and has an OBP of .286 in NESCAC games. Araya, meanwhile, has continued his year-to-year improvement and stepped into full-time catching duties with great success. Offensively, Araya leads the Panthers with 11 bases on balls (and no one else is particularly close) and generally puts the ball in play with authority. The one thing lacking from his offensive game is a bit more pop, as he has just two extra base hits on the year. But Araya really gets the nod here for his work behind the dish, where has has emerged as one of the league’s best defensive backstops.

9. Shortstop Jack Roberts ’17 (.386/.429/.542, 0 HR, 19 RBI): Williams (Team Rank: 7): As a group the Williams’ offense has taken a step back from a year ago, but that has not stopped Roberts from cementing himself as one of the better players in the league. He rarely walks, but that isn’t his role as the three hitter. Roberts fits the mold of the team’s best athlete playing shortstop given his speed has allowed him to steal five bags and propelled him to four triples, tied for the league lead. His production has slipped ever so slightly in conference, but not by an alarming amount.

8. Right Fielder Nate Pajka ’15 (.353/.434/.659, 4 HR, 15 RBI): Bates (Team Rank: 5): The fact that Pajka is ranked eighth in this list is an indication of the quality of players that are to follow. After all, Pajka is fourth in the league in slugging percentage and has 14 doubles, the most in the league. In the Bobcats’ five conference games he is getting on base at a .458 clip. There isn’t really a good knock on his play either. The only reason others are above him is that they are just a smidgeon better in a couple of areas. A hit here and there really is the difference. Pajka can hold his hat on being one of the most improved players on this list; oh and that his team has a good shot at making the playoffs.

7. Starting Pitcher Sean Meekins ’15 (2-1, 1.91 ERA, 10.36 K/9, 33.0 IP): Trinity (Team Rank: 8): Yes, we are proud of our own Nothing but NESCAC contributor, but don’t accuse us of any type of bias. I think the sub-2.00 ERA speaks for itself after all. He is striking out gobs of hitters and still working late into games, a somewhat rare and valuable combination. He had been struggling a little in his previous couple of starts before getting back on track and throwing that gem on Saturday against Bowdoin. A year ago Meekins was an average starter in what amounted to an average rotation, but in 2015 Meekins, and the staff as a whole, has raised their level of play.

6. Starting Pitcher/First Basman Soren Hanson ’16 (.326/.380/.565 and 4-0, 1.78 ERA): Colby (Team Rank: 4): Hanson get serious consideration merely for his work on the bump, and when you add in his hitting contributions it is clear how important he is to Colby. Like another pitcher we will see in a bit, all three of his team’s NESCAC wins have come in Hanson’s starts. He is hitting only .263 in conference, but he is also second in RBI over that stretch so his timely hitting makes up for it somewhat. Why don’t we see more two-way players in the NESCAC? I’m not really sure, but Hanson is the best one going this year.

5. Pitcher Sam Elias ’15 (5-0, 3 Saves, 1.94 ERA, 41.2 IP, 9.94 K/9): Wesleyan (Team Rank: 1): One of several seniors to raise his game in his final season, Elias has been pulling double duty for Wesleyan as both a starter and reliever. A year ago he started only one game but was still a big part of the Cardinals success appearing in 19 games and throwing more than 40 innings. This year he has been the best pitcher on Wesleyan, which is saying something considering Gavin Pittore ’16 and Peter Rantz ’16 have ERA’s right at 2.20. Elias, like all the other Wesleyan pitchers, certainly benefits from Wesleyan having the best defense in the league, but don’t let that diminish his accomplishments. That Elias is only fifth but Wesleyan is clearly the best team in the league to this point is just another representation of the depth the Cardinals possess.

4. Center Fielder Joe Jensen ’15 (.419/.470/.568, 1 HR, 10 RBI): Hamilton (Team Rank: 9): Jensen was the original inspiration for this list because he is the player with the most obvious disparity between his team and his own personal performance. Not that there aren’t others playing very well for Hamilton this season, but as a group the Continentals have not been able to take a step forward. Jensen has not delivered on the power that we thought would come this season after he hit a home run in his first game of the year. But he has continued to run wild on the basepaths with 14 steals which is sort of incredible when you consider that everybody knows he is going to run. Though he has come back down a little recently, Jensen is still having his finest season yet as a senior.

3. Tufts: Catcher Bryan Egan ’15 (.402/.510/.573, 2 HR, 36 RBI: Tufts (Team Rank: 3): When I was putting this list together, this was the one that I had the hardest time slotting in. Ultimately Egan landed higher than I thought he ever would. At first I thought Tommy O’Hara ’18 was a clear choice for MVP for Tufts, but then I looked again at the conference stats for Tufts and noticed that Egan had an incredible .571 AVG. Also, did I mention that Egan is a catcher who wasn’t even a starter a year ago. Even though he has not thrown many runners out, he deserves some credit for shepherding the Tufts’ staff. At the end of the day, Egan has hit his best in the games that matter the most which is why he ended up so high on this list.

2. Starting Pitcher Henry Van Zant ’15 (5-1, 1.26 ERA, 37 K, 43.0 IP): Bowdoin (Team Rank: 6): We saw a big year coming for Van Zant, but we didn’t see this type of dominance on the horizon. He leads the league in ERA, and that number gets even better when you isolate for just NESCAC games where he has an 0.82 ERA. All three of Bowdoin’s conference wins have come in games that he has started, and you can chalk up their 1-0 non-conference win over Wesleyan to his complete game shutout, too. Van Zant looks poised to follow in the steps of his older brother, Oliver Van Zant ’13 and win NESCAC Pitcher of the Year honors.

1. Center Fielder Mike Odenwaelder ’16 (.444/.521/.697, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 8 SB): Amherst Team Rank: 2): You probably saw this one coming from the beginning. Nobody else in the NESCAC has the combination of size, power, speed and whatever else it is that makes some baseball players so good. Odenwaelder is both tied for the league lead in homers and leads the league in OBP, pretty decent for a guy who has eight steals to boot. Now consider the fact that I spent 30 seconds considering putting Harry Roberson ’18 in this slot instead of Odenwaelder. Gives you an idea of the type of year that the freshman is having. Odenwaelder is a special player who you don’t see very often come through the NESCAC.

Do the Maine Shuffle: Stock Report 4/21

Williams and Bates split their non-conference doubleheader.
Williams and Bates split their non-conference doubleheader. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

As promised, the best drama during the weekend happened in the East where Trinity took two of three from Bowdoin while Colby lost two of three to Tufts. The question however, is did any of that really matter? Trinity, Bowdoin, and Colby all have five losses already while Bates only has two. Colby and Bowdoin are close to eliminated while the Bantams need a lot of things to happen to make the playoffs, but they absolutely must win their series against Bates when they meet.

Amherst and Wesleyan both swept their series, but the games were generally close. The Jeffs relied on their pitching in the first two games before mashing four homers in the final game to complete the sweep of Hamilton. Wesleyan also snuck by Middlebury in the first two games, before also hitting four homers in the final game of the series to win easily.

To put in perspective the type of coincidence it is that both Wesleyan and Amherst hit four home runs on Saturday, consider that amongst every NESCAC team, the only other game where a team had four or more homers was when Tufts hit six in a 28-2 dismantling of Brandeis.

Stock Up

Starting Pitcher Sean Meekins ’15 (Trinity)

The Bantams were on the ropes Saturday after falling to 2-5 following their loss to Bowdoin Friday. That was when Meekins declared an extension to the playoff hopes of Trinity and pitched an absolute gem in the first game of the doubleheader. He went all seven innings allowing only three hits and one walk. Despite the lead-off hitter reaching in three of the first five innings, no Bowdoin player advanced past second base ALL game. In fact, after a single to lead off the fifth, Meekins retired the final nine Bowdoin hitters without the ball leaving the infield. The shutout brought his season ERA to 1.91 to go along with a 10.36 K/9 rate. Along with Jed Robinson ’16, Meekins has kept Trinity on the edge of the playoff race and overcome an offense that struggles to score.


The idle team in the East must have enjoyed watching their rivals beat up on each other. Seeing Bowdoin and Colby lose two of three must have been especially sweet. The Bobcats are not out of the woods yet of course. They have still only played five NESCAC games and have to face Tufts this upcoming weekend. Going 5-2 over the NESCAC stretch run seems unlikely, but simply taking two of three from Trinity would mean Bates could win only one of their other four games and still make the playoffs by virtues of tiebreakers. Yes, that would put Bates at 6-6, but in a division without any weak links, 6-6 might end up being enough. And they weren’t really idle this weekend either since they played three games. A split of a Sunday doubleheader against Williams makes it a little easier to overlook a 22-8 loss to Endicott where the Bobcats made seven errors.

Tufts Hitting

The Jumbos are known foremost for their pitching, but their lineup has also consistently been a well above average unit. Tufts has won all three of their NESCAC series in similar fashion this year. They lose the first or second game by a little and look vulnerable heading into the final game of the series. Then the offense turns it on and the game ends up being a blowout. The Jumbos are averaging 13.66 runs per game and winning by an average margin of 10.66 runs in the final game of their series.  Not sure why they decide to only score once the stakes are so high in that final game, but they definitely tend to mash against subpar hitting. They have scored at least 15 runs in eight different games this year and have passed 20 runs in three of those games. Those numbers make their league leading 285 runs scored this season a slightly misleading number. Still, this is a very good hitting team right now.

Stock Down

Bowdoin Offense

Heading into Saturday the Polar Bears were 3-3 with the chance to jump into the drivers seat for the two seed with a sweep of Trinity. Instead, the offense went completely cold wasting quality starts from Erik Jacobsen ’15 and Harry Ridge ’16. In the first game Meekins completely shut down the lineup. Then the lack of depth was exposed during the final game. In the bottom of the second they loaded the bases with nobody out and their 7-8-9 hitters coming up. Bowdoin managed to push only one run across on a wild pitch and Trinity escaped only down one. The game ended in a similar situation when there were runners on second and third with no outs and 7-8-9 coming up. Bowdoin had already scored one run that inning to cut the Trinity lead to 6-3, but the next three hitters all got out to seal the win for the Bantams. A golden opportunity slipped through the fingers of the Polar Bears who now face long odds at making the playoffs.

Outfielder Kenny Collins ’17 (Hamilton)

Collins looked like a rising star earlier in the year. After completing his freshmen year hot to raise his season average to .359, he was on a tear as well in 2015 with an average above .400 only a few weeks ago. However, he has gone cold at the plate and has not recorded a hit in Hamilton’s past five games. He ended up not starting the second game on Saturday against Amherst but ended up pinch hitting in the seventh inning. Unfortunately, he struck out with the bases loaded to end the game. Now coming into the game as a pinch hitter is not easy of course, but the moment must have surely been frustrating for Collins. His struggles have come at the same time as the Continentals’ offense has gone cold overall. He should get back on track at some point which will give Hamilton a needed boost.

Pivoting to the East: Baseball Weekend Preview 4/17

The Polar Bears welcome Trinity to Maine this weekend, in a series that could spell the end for either teams' hopes of making a playoff push. (Courtesy of Tom Van Zant/Bowdoin Athletics)
The Polar Bears welcome Trinity to Maine this weekend, in a series that could spell the end for either teams’ hopes of making a playoff push. (Courtesy of Tom Van Zant/Bowdoin Athletics)

All the drama this weekend will come from two East Divisional series in Maine, a state that to this point has seen only three NESCAC games. Unless the rain gets in the way and postpones games, this weekend should see that number double as Trinity travels to Bowdoin and Tufts visits Colby.

Unless Hamilton can somehow manage to find a way to shock Amherst, Amherst and Wesleyan should continue to dominate their West Division foes. The Cardinals travel to Middlebury to take on the Panthers. Last year the Cardinals won both of the Saturday doubleheader games by only one run so do not expect Middlebury to shrink from the moment. Meanwhile, the Continentals are going to have to find some way to slow down an Amherst offense that has an insane .504 OBP and seven home runs in their six NESCAC games. Having the games in New York with the short porch in left probably won’t help.

And that is all I’m going to say about the West today. Onto the East.

Three to Watch

1. Relief Pitcher Zach Brown ’18 (Tufts)

Relievers are generally volatile and inconsistent in the NESCAC, but Brown is a critical piece for the Jumbos as their closer. Some might pause at putting such a young player in that position, but an eye-popping 1.72 ERA and 13.29 K/9 will generally make your manager trust you even if you are a freshman. Brown did get the loss last weekend against Trinity when he came in during the eighth inning with runners on first and second and no outs. He worked the bases loaded with two outs before surrendering a bases clearing double that put Trinity ahead 7-6. That isn’t going to stop Brown from getting the call again if the game is close late and the Jumbos need to lock things down.

2. Starting Pitcher Greg Ladd ’15 (Colby)

If Colby’s other two starting pitchers, Soren Hanson ’16 and Scott Goldberg ’15, are the heavy artillery of the rotation, Ladd is the sniper picking his spots. Last year he barely struck anybody out and had an ERA of 2.51, but he has struggled to maintain that level this year and has a 6.12 ERA including a 12.00 ERA in three NESCAC appearances. However, a couple of factors suggest he could shake off his struggles. First, his strikeout rate is up to an actually respectable 6.12 K/9. Second, Ladd has a WHIP of 1.28 which would indicate that he has suffered somewhat from cluster luck. Giving up two home runs explains some of that unluckiness but certainly not all of it. All three of Colby’s starters need to have good starts this weekend, but Ladd might be the biggest one of them all.

3. Second Baseman Aaron Rosen ’15 (Bowdoin)

The most consistent hitter for Bowdoin is enjoying his best season yet as a senior with a .447 OBP and .590 SLG%. After not hitting any homers before this year, he has three already including one off of Tufts’ Kyle Slinger ’15. On Tuesday, an 0-3 day in the first game of a doubleheader snapped his 12-game hitting streak, but he responded in the second game going 3-4 with a double and triple. The big knock on Rosen throughout his career has been defense, and that has carried over to this year as he already has nine errors for the season. Still, his bat more than makes up for it as he is the Polar Bears’ most important hitter in their lineup.


Trinity (10-11, 2-4) at Bowdoin (9-14, 2-3)

Friday 3:30 PM: Jed Robinson ’16 (Trinity) vs. Henry Van Zant ’15 (Bowdoin). Saturday 12:00 PM: Sean Meekins ’15 (Trinity) vs. Harry Ridge ’16 (Bowdoin). Saturday 2:30 PM: Chris Speer ’17 (Trinity) vs. Erik Jacobsen ’15 (Bowdoin).

The Bantams and Polar Bears currently sit in the final two positions in the East, and whoever loses this series will see their playoff hopes essentially come to an end. A sweep would jolt the victor right into the thick of things for that second spot. This weekend is Bowdoin’s home opener as well.

The Friday pitching matchup in this one is very juicy with Van Zant pitching like the best in the NESCAC and Robinson sporting a 2.77 ERA. Though teams have touched Robinson up some in conference, he could still give the Polar Bear offense a little trouble . The other starters for both teams have struggled in their NESCAC games, and Van Zant is the only starter on either team to have a win. Despite those recent struggles, every pitcher in this series is more than capable of having a great start. Given that both of these offenses are below average, expect a low-scoring series.

Peter Cimini ’16 has returned and is now leading off for Bowdoin which should solidify the top of the lineup and make them much more dangerous to pitch against. The Polar Bear offense tends to falter outside of their top guys so returning Cimini instead of one of their peripheral players is a big improvement. On the other side, the Bantams are enjoying a little power surge with four home runs in their NESCAC games. Still, they remain one position behind Bowdoin in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. Whichever offense can string hits together and not have them scattered will give their team a big advantage.

Prediction: Bowdoin wins two of three.

Tufts (19-5, 4-2) at Colby (14-6, 3-3)

Friday 3:00 PM: TBA vs. Scott Goldberg ’15 (Colby). Saturday 12:00 PM: Tim Superko ’17 (Tufts) vs. Greg Ladd ’15 (Colby). Saturday 2:30 PM Andrew David ’16 (Tufts) vs. Soren Hanson ’16 (Colby).

See that TBA up in the probable starters section? That could or could not be Kyle Slinger, aka the 2014 NESCAC Pitcher of the Year. He was involved in a collision in Tufts’ game on Sunday and had to leave the game after one inning. Given that he also missed time earlier in the year after getting an errant throw to his head, it would not be shocking to see the Jumbos be safe and leave him out though we don’t know what specific injury he suffered at this time.

If Slinger is not able to go, senior Tom Ryan ’15 will end up starting one of the Saturday games and Superko will start on Friday. Ryan is a solid starter who threw a complete game, one-run outing on Monday against Salem State, so it’s not like the Jumbos are panicking if Slinger can’t go, but they would still prefer him to be out there because a series loss would make their playoff position suddenly precarious. A great performance from their offense would of course render any worries about the rotation mute. Connor McDavitt ’15 has been inconsistent at the plate with three homers but only a .271 AVG. However, given that he has 25 walks to make his OBP .427, he is still enjoying a very good senior year.

For Colby this is a make or break series. After dropping two of three to Bates they need to rebound and find a way to take, at the very, very least, one game. As mentioned above, their three starters all have to enjoy quality starts. The only consistent reliever the Mules have is freshman Daniel Schoenfield ’18 who admittedly has been very solid in his 10 total appearances thus far. The big problem though is that after appearing to turn a corner in March, the Mule offense has reverted back to its 2014 form and is last in the league in both average and on-base percentage. Tommy Forese ’16 is the only hitter who has hit above average in their six conference games with a .500 average and two home runs. Jason Buco ’15 continues to struggle after being the team’s offensive leader last year. The Mules are hoping this series comes down to a couple of plays that they make and the Jumbos don’t. Unfortunately for Colby, I think that the Tufts offense will do too much against the Colby pitchers.

 Prediction: Tufts wins two of three.

How the West Was Won: Stock Report 4/14

Brendan Pierce '18 has helped Trinity immensely. Note that this photo was taken in Florida if you were wondering about the man in the tanktop. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Brendan Pierce ’18 has helped Trinity immensely. Note that this photo was taken in Florida if you were wondering about the man in the tank top. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Well folks, Wesleyan and Amherst are going to the playoffs. That is what we confirmed this weekend. The Jeffs dispatched Williams in a comfortable three game sweep to move to 6-0 and drop Williams to 3-6. Add in Hamilton winning two out of three against Middlebury while not even looking great in their two victories and the race in the West is over. We don’t say this to disparage Williams, Middlebury and Hamilton, but they are all a step below where the Cardinals and Jeffs are. Unless Hamilton figures out how to play much better than they showed – not likely – the only drama left in the West is the order of finish between Wesleyan and Amherst.

Of course, the East is the opposite of the settled West. All five teams are separated by only two games. Tufts retains their spot at the top by a hair, and Bates has momentarily climbed into that second spot. That second spot could continue to be a revolving door.

Stock Up

Relief Pitcher Riley Streit ’16 (Amherst)

The unlikely hero that made Amherst’s sweep possible was Streit, who came on in relief in the final game and tossed six scoreless innings to finish the contest. The Amherst starter, Sam Schneider ’16, got knocked out of the game after allowing four runs in the fourth inning. With many of the other pitchers tired, Streit entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out. After allowing one runner inherited from Schneider to score on a balk, he managed to get Williams 1-2-3 hitters out in order without allowing another run. Streit struggled earlier in the year, even letting up four homers in one game against Endicott, but he allowed only one runner to reach base on Sunday.

Third Baseman Sam Berry ’15 (Bates)

Though it has been an uneven year overall for Berry, he came up big this weekend for Bobcats along with other hitters like Rockwell Jackson ’15. He went 6-12 and scored five runs including four in the rubber game which Bates won in blowout fashion, 17-0, over Colby. On the year, Berry is hitting only .286, but don’t sleep on him building off of this weekend and finishing strong. That win Sunday was a huge one for Bates to get to 3-2 in conference and still having the chance to win the head-to-head series against Bowdoin. If they win that game, then they will need to go .500 in their other two series to likely secure a berth. Yes, 7-5 is probably going to be enough to make the playoffs once again in the East.

Utility Brendan Pierce ’18 (Trinity)

For an offense without a clear star entering the year, Pierce has been exactly the type of impact freshmen that Trinity needed. He leads the NESCAC with a .548 OBP, and he almost never strikes out as he has only four on the year. On Saturday he hit his first home run of the year as the Bantams got the split in the doubleheader against Tufts. Unfortunately, on Sunday the Bantams ended up losing 16-5 against Tufts. Now, the Bantams are 2-4 and still looking for a conference breakthrough. The Bantams had a very similar series to their one against Tufts last season. Both series had one game where Trinity was routed, one that was a close Bantam loss, and one that was a Bantam win because of a big hit late.

Stock Down

Williams Defense

By far the biggest reason why Williams was swept this weekend was their failures as a team defensively. In the series opener, starter Luke Rodino ’17 pitched well but was let down by a defense that had seven errors in the game. Rodino allowed eight runs but only one earned run. In the final game on Sunday, Williams was up 4-3 entering the sixth inning, but after the Jeffs tied up the game, Williams errors in the seventh and eighth inning allowed the Jeffs to score two runs and win 6-4. The Ephs ended up committing 14 errors over the three game series. Over the past two years against Wesleyan and Amherst the Ephs have committed 35 errors in 12 games and are 1-11 in those games.


The confluence of events that led to the Mules getting smashed 17-0 in the final game was mostly random, but it hurts nevertheless. Colby appeared to be in a good spot after winning game one of the Sunday doubleheader and having Greg Ladd ’15 ready for the final game.  Then Ladd got knocked around and the bullpen was not able to keep things close. The good news is that all loses count the same. The Mules are still very much in the thick of things at 3-3 now, but they still have to play Tufts and Bowdoin and give up the playoff tiebreaker to Bates. Even though overall the Mules have only six losses, only one less than Tufts and Wesleyan, they are clearly not as complete of a team overall.

NY QB Brandon Tobin to Transfer to Hamilton College for 2015 Season

Brandon Tobin '18 will join Hamilton College this fall to play quarterback. (Courtesy of Pace University Athletics)
Brandon Tobin ’18 will join Hamilton College this fall to play quarterback. (Courtesy of Pace University Athletics)

Brandon Tobin ’18 started three games at quarterback for Division-II Pace University this past season as a true freshman, and before that was the Section I-AA Offensive MVP in the state of New York as a senior at Arlington High School.

In 2015, Tobin will be taking snaps as a member of the Hamilton Continentals.

Tobin joins a long list of higher-division quarterbacks to join the NESCAC over the past half decade, which includes two-time NESCAC Offensive MVP McCallum Foote ’13 (via Brown), Williams’ starting QB Austin Lommen ’16 (Boston College), Colby backup Michael Ecke ’17 (UCONN) and the incoming Jared Lebowitz ’17 (UNLV).

The 6’1″, 200 lbs. righty signal-caller will complete the spring semester at Pace University, focusing on lifting and finishing strong academically before turning his attention toward learning the Hamilton playbook this summer and joining the Continentals in the Fall.

According to Arlington High School Head Coach Dom DeMatteo, Tobin showed an ability to pick up the offense quickly as a junior for the Admirals, but ceded time early on to a senior at quarterback. By the fourth week of Tobin’s junior season, DeMatteo was unable to keep Tobin off of the field, and the junior began playing more and more snaps as the season went along. As a senior Tobin spent the entire season as the Admirals’ undisputed starting quarterback and leader.

Nor was Tobin a one-way player. According to DeMatteo, Tobin earned the starting job at field corner with ease as a junior, and were it not for the need to be cautious with the team’s future star QB, Tobin’s toughness would have allowed him to move to linebacker.

And, lest we forget, Tobin also dabbled in punting, kickoffs and placekicking.

The last of which did not come easy to Tobin. Realizing a void at the kicking position, DeMatteo decided to have Tobin try out his leg. The first day was pretty unsuccessful, but DeMatteo says that Tobin went home that night, researched placekicking and came back the next day looking like a professional.

Tobin admits that he spent three to four hours watching YouTube videos that night in an effort to improve his placekicking.

Coach DeMatteo put it quite simply.

“He’s not just a quarterback. He’s a football player.” – Arlington HS Head Coach Dom DeMatteo

That is an easily tossed around cliché but one that certainly applies to Tobin.

But for Tobin, the moniker “student-athlete” means something, which was the NY native’s primary motivation for deciding to transfer from Pace.

When first looking at colleges, Hamilton was on the shortlist of schools that Tobin and his family had to decide among, but in the end the opportunity to play under scholarship at Division-II Pace became a deciding factor.

Brandon Tobin signing his national letter of intent to play football at Pace University in March 2014. (Courtesy of Arlington High School Athletics)
Brandon Tobin signing his national letter of intent to play football at Pace University in March 2014. (Courtesy of Arlington High School Athletics)

After a semester in which Tobin was unimpressed by the academic landscape at his current school, Tobin decided to pursue his release from Pace and began searching for a new home. The QB also stressed that his decision was not driven by football, but rather was based primarily on his desire to challenge himself academically.

Now that the decision is final, it is time to turn our attention to next season and decipher what this means for the Hamilton College football program.

Current sophomore Chase Rosenberg ’17 will be the incumbent at quarterback for Head Coach Dave Murray, who chose not to comment on the news of Tobin’s transfer. However, with the Continentals coming off of an 0-8 year in Murray’s first at the helm, one has to believe that nothing will be guaranteed to any of the returning players.

Tobin stated that Murray had not promised the transfer anything in terms of playing time, but certainly allowed that there would be an opportunity for Tobin to compete for a starting job with Rosenberg once camp opens.

For Tobin’s part, he has not seen Hamilton play with Rosenberg under center, nor has he spoken to his future teammate, but he looks forward to the position battle that will take place this Fall.

Tobin, it would seem, has the skills to play in the NESCAC. As a senior at Arlington, Tobin threw eight touchdowns and secured eight more on the ground, compiling over 1,400 yards of total offense. In his first season at Pace the results were much more varied, but his 17-35 (48.6 percent), 1-0 TD-INT performance against Southern Connecticut State provides a glimpse of what the righty can do.

Aside from the statistics, Tobin should be a great addition for a team that will need to stay committed despite a history of poor performance. According to DeMatteo, Tobin is the rare type of player that combines his athletic gifts with the ability to lead both vocally and by example. Since taking over at Arlington in 2007, DeMatteo has not had a more complete football player.

“[He was the] best compete package, intelligent, athletic, physical, could make all the throws on the field. There was really nothing that we asked Brandon to do on the field that he could not do.” – Dom DeMatteo

The recent lack of success for Hamilton did not deter Tobin, who encountered a similar situation when he enrolled at Pace last year, where he joined a program in the midst of a coaching change looking to turn over a new leaf. Now, Tobin hopes to be part of a rebirth for the Hamilton program under Dave Murray, and the transfer is excited to play for his new coach and the Hamilton staff.

Coach DeMatteo feels strongly that a wave of success is coming for Tobin and his new team.

“I sincerely believe that Hamilton College hit a home run with this kid.” – Dom DeMatteo

As for Tobin, he stuck to his humble nature and refrained from predicting the heights that his new team will achieve, saying only,

“I’m very thankful to be given the opportunity.” – Brandon Tobin

Rivals Meet in Busy Slate: Weekend Preview 4/11

Connor Speed '18 and Bates are ready for their series against Colby. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Connor Speed ’18 and Bates are ready for their series against Colby. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Week by week we get closer to that bonanza of baseball they call the NESCAC playoffs. We are now officially less than a month from when the tournament will kick off, but oh boy is there a lot of baseball still to be played, baseball which, at least this weekend, has been postponed another day due to weather.

The series between Colby and Bates will be a big piece in the puzzle for figuring out what two teams will emerge from the East. Trinity will try to force their way into the playoff conversation with a win or two against Tufts. Meanwhile out West, the always charged matchup between Amherst and Williams will take place, most likely with a playoff berth on the line. Still a lot of baseball after this weekend, but the winner of the series will have a serious leg up. Middlebury and Hamilton play in our first chance to see the Continentals in conference play.

Keep an eye on the weather too. The rain and snow that has fallen over most of New England is mostly gone at this point, but it has forced every series to change their schedule to a Saturday doubleheader and Sunday matinee game.

Three to Watch

1. Right Fielder Nate Pajka ’16 (Bates)

Pajka caught the entire league’s attention when he hit four home runs on Bates’ spring trip, and he has continued to show his power with a double in four of his last five games. He has not cooled down much and has a season long OBP of .467 to go along with his exceptional .776 slugging percentage, tied for second in the NESCAC. In 2014, Pajka showed he had power with three homers, but he saw a dip in his batting average from his sophomore year. Now he is hitting for power and average. Despite losing their two best hitters from a year ago, the Bobcat offense has been nearly as good in large part because of the improvement from Pajka.

2. Starting Pitcher Spencer Vogelbach ’18 (Hamilton)

The freshmen from Oaks Christian School in Sothern California, also known as Hollywood High, appears to be on the cusp of being a big part of the rotation for Hamilton. The number that jumps out from his three starts is his 19 strikeouts which looks even better when you realize he has walked only three batters. Vogelbach is 6’3″and comes over the top in his windup making him tough to pick up on at times. Vogelbach could get his first NESCAC start this weekend, but even if he doesn’t, he is one to keep an eye on going forward at Hamilton.

3. Starting Pitcher John Cook ’15 (Amherst)

This series against Williams is a big opportunity for Cook to place himself in the running for NESCAC Pitcher of the Year. At this point the field is still wide open because pitchers have still only had a few starts each. The Jeffs want a big series opening game on Friday. Amherst has an ace, something that the Ephs desperately lack. We have not seen too much of Cook so far, but he has an ERA below 3.00. He is also someone capable of racking up a lot of strikeouts quickly. Even if the rest of the Amherst rotation is not great, a fantastic Cook and that loaded lineup should be more than enough for the Jeffs.


We are not going to predict every series this weekend, but these are our quick thoughts on the Middlebury-Hamilton, Tufts-Trinity, and Williams-Amherst series.

For Middlebury, they are really looking to get the monkey off their back and win one game. It will take somebody on the pitching staff stepping up and pitching deep into a game to make it happen. The offense has scored enough runs to win. Hamilton meanwhile needs contributions up and down the lineup. Kenny Collins ’17 has been a more than capable Robin to Joe Jensen’s Batman. Hamilton knows they need a sweep to keep up with the other teams in the West.

Tufts and Trinity could end up having a very low-scoring series. At least the Bantams are hoping that it goes that way given how their offense has struggled. Jed Robinson ’16 and the rest of the rotation will have to pound the zone and make Tufts beat them by hitting the ball hard instead of getting on through walks. The Bantams are going to have to find some way to score, most likely by taking chances on the base paths and playing small ball. The Jumbos want to score early and allow their pitchers to attack the Trinity hitters.

After last week’s missed opportunity against Wesleyan, the Ephs are hoping their last stand doesn’t turn into a Pickett’s Charge where their pitchers are the Confederates and the Amherst batters are the entrenched Union forces tearing apart everything in front of them. Harry Roberson ’18 has more than lived up to the hype with a batting average ABOVE .500. Outside of Cook, every Amherst pitcher has his flaws which the Williams lineup will have to exploit. The Ephs are also hoping that Luke Rodino ’17 can repeat his solid start against Wesleyan. Getting a quality start from one of their other starters is also a must. Amherst has much more talent, but there is enough on the Williams roster to spring a series upset and take two of three.

Series of the Week: Bates (6-8, 1-1) at Colby (11-4, 2-1)

Saturday 12:00: Connor Colombo ’16 (Bates) vs. Scott Goldberg ’15 (Colby). Saturday 3:00 PM: Will Levangie ’16 (Bates) vs. Greg Ladd ’15 (Colby). Sunday Time TBA: Connor Speed ’18 (Bates) vs. Soren Hanson ’16 (Colby).

This series will have the first NESCAC games of the year played in Maine. Or at least we hope so, as the Bates grounds crew works hard to get the field ready. A lot is at stake in this one up north. A year ago Bates taking two of three from Colby ended up being the deciding factor in the Bobcats making the playoffs.

The big difference between Bates and Colby is in the pitching department. The Mules have a very clear top three while the Bobcats rely on a carousel of arms. Not that Bates is that necessarily worse than Colby (Bates has a lower team ERA), but they have a different approaches given their rosters this year. However, in conference play, having a clear top three is a big advantage, especially when that three is as good as Colby’s is. Soren Hanson ’16 has not allowed an earned run yet in his twelve innings. If Bates can knock out a starter early, then the lack of pitching depth could come back to haunt the Mules.

Pajka and Colby’s Tommy Forese ’16 are somewhat mirror images of each other. Both flashed a little power last year (Pajka more than Forese) and are now enjoying big breakout years where they are tied for the league lead with four homers. The supporting cast for Colby has been a little bit better this year, but their statistics are probably a little bit inflated by their early season schedule. Ryder Arsenault ’17 has the potential to swing a game for Colby with his speed on the bases.

In the end we prefer the certainty in pitching that Colby brings to the table more than the Pu Pu platter of pitchers Bates has. And for the record, I love Pu Pu platters from the local Chinese take-out.

Prediction: Colby wins two of three.

The Great Thaw: Power Rankings 4/8

We held off on doing a Power Rankings last week because so few games had been played since the last one. Also, we had to re-watch Game of Thrones before the season premiere. Pretty standard stuff really. Before a big weekend of games, getting a Power Rankings out there is necessary.

1. Wesleyan (12-4, 3-0). Last Ranking: 1

The Cardinals have won their four games since we last made these rankings so they remain solidly at the top. Williams came close to beating Wesleyan in the final game, and in the process they reminded us that Wesleyan is far from unbeatable. What makes the Cardinals the best in the NESCAC is that they have no weaknesses. Take defense, an area where NESCAC teams often struggle to have consistency. As a team, Wesleyan has only 17 errors, the lowest in the NESCAC and good enough for the best fielding percentage as well. Even more impressive is that the Cardinals are yet to have a game where they commit more than two errors. Not making errors is sexy, and it helps win ball games.

2. Amherst (10-6, 3-0). Last Ranking: 3

Anytime you AVERAGE 20 runs per game over a three game stretch like the Jeffs did this weekend against Middlebury, we are going to take notice. Plenty of gaudy stat lines came out of it as a result, but the best one goes to NESCAC Player of the Week 2B Andrew Vandini ’16. Vandini went 8-12, walked four times, scored eight runs, knocked in 14 teammates, and hit two home runs during the weekend. He did strike out one time so there is room for improvement. The Jeffs can pretty much cement their place in the playoffs if they win their series against Williams this weekend.

3. Tufts (15-4, 2-1). Last Ranking: 2

The Jumbos drop a spot but we actually feel better about them now than we did two weeks ago. The conference loss to Bowdoin is the only one in their last 12 games, and Tufts is currently on a six-game winning streak. Kyle Slinger ’15 looked good once again this weekend against Brandeis and has now put his early season injury problems completely behind him. Also, don’t worry about Tufts striking out 112 times, the second most in the league. That’s because they employ a patient approach which is why they have 90 walks, 21 more than any other team.

4. Colby (11-4, 2-1). Last Ranking: 4

Are you buying or selling stock in Colby right now? They are 4-1 against NESCAC opponents (they won two non-conference games against Hamilton), and their one loss came on a walk-off homer. Yet, the starts of some of their offensive players are almost too good to believe. Chiefly, Tommy Forese ’16 who has hit four home runs and has an OBP of .500 after only getting 14 at-bats and hitting .214 last season. Others like Tim Corey ’15 are also enjoying big bumps in production from a year ago. The Mules have gotten somewhat limited production from Jason Buco ’15, so if others take a step back he could pick up the slack.

5. Bates (6-7, 1-1). Last Ranking: 5

The Bobcats are the slightest of smidgeons above the Polar Bears in our minds right now. The fact that the teams split a doubleheader on Sunday in which neither game was close certainly did us no favors in figuring out which team to put ahead of the other. Connor Colombo ’16 has emerged as one of the starters who will get the ball every weekend, but he has still only thrown 15.0 innings, the highest of any Bates starter. Seventeen different pitchers have thrown a full inning, a crazy high amount that shows how unsettled the pitching rotation is. Manager Mike Leonard will have to be able to push the right buttons to make sure the best guys get on the mound.

6. Bowdoin (7-11, 2-3). Last Week: 6

The overall record still does not look great, and the Polar Bears are stuck in neutral for the moment. Peter Cimini ’16 has struggled with an injury that has kept him out for most of the season, and the lineup has not hit well outside of a couple of core players like Chad Martin ’16 and Aaron Rosen ’15. Do they have a weekend where they can play well in every aspect of the game and sweep their opponent? They play at Wesleyan in a non-conference doubleheader Saturday. A good performance against the Cardinals could give them a little more confidence as they enter the stretch run.

7. Williams (6-9, 3-3). Last Ranking: 8

Getting swept by Wesleyan is not the worst thing in the world, but it does put pressure on Williams this weekend against Amherst. A series win is almost a must to keep the Ephs above .500. Both Dan Smith ’16 and Thomas Murphy ’15 have ERA’s close to 8.00, though Smith did contain the Wesleyan lineup enough to give Williams a chance in the final game of the series. The Ephs are hoping that they can keep the games more low-scoring against the fearsome Amherst lineup

8. Trinity (9-7, 1-2). Last Ranking: 7

Trinity is bringing up the rear in the East for now mostly because their offense has simply lacked punch this year. Their rotation has the third-best ERA in the league, and Jed Robinson ’16 and Nick Fusco ’18 both have ERA’s below 1.00. The problem is the offense has a NESCAC-worst .338 OBP, a full 31 percentage points worse than the second-to-last team. Besides his walk-off home run, Daniel Pidgeon ’16 has struggled at the plate with a .189 BA. He and other Bantam mainstays have to become more consistent at the dish.

9. Hamilton (7-5, 0-0). Last Ranking: 9

The final NESCAC team without a game in conference play, the Continentals are itching to get going finally. The Continentals have played only one game since returning from their Florida trip on March 24 so we have very little new information on them. Cole Dreyfuss ’16 has been a revelation with a 1.33 ERA. He has pitched more than six innings in each of his three starts which is important because the bullpen for Hamilton has struggled. They plan to travel to Middlebury for their opening series on Friday, though the opener could be pushed to Saturday because of weather.

10. Middlebury (0-12, 0-6) Last Ranking: 10

The Panthers got smacked by a very good Amherst team last weekend as they continue to struggle. The one area where Middlebury has been decent is their offense. They are sixth in OBP, but their inability to hit for power or steal bases has hamstrung the offense. Catcher Max Araya ’16 and shortstop Johnny Read ’17 are both hitting above .350 while some of the freshmen are also hitting well. The Panthers will try to get their first win against Hamilton, a team they beat twice a year ago.

A Tale of Two Divisions: Stock Report 4/6

As we thought would be the case, the hierarchies of the East and West divisions look very different. While the West is owned by a couple of heavyweights, the East is a morass with teams jockeying every week for position.

Out West, Amherst and Wesleyan flexed their muscles in a big way with each team earning a sweep this weekend over Middlebury and Williams, respectively. The Amherst offense looked straight up scary against Middlebury. Williams getting swept by Wesleyan means that the Ephs now will have to win their series against Amherst to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Hamilton hasn’t played a NESCAC game yet, but they do not appear to have the pitching to seriously compete for a playoff spot. Amherst and Wesleyan look like they will both be headed back to the postseason in a playoff race that what will lack for drama.

Fortunately for us, the race for the second spot in the East is getting juicier by the day. Colby has jumped to the front of the line at the moment after taking two of three from Trinity. Bates and Bowdoin are right there close behind them, and the Bantams are still thinking they have a shot at the playoffs. Even Tufts will have to play well in order to keep from falling back to the pack. The East standings have Tufts and Colby at the top for now.

Stock Up

Starting Pitcher Gavin Pittore ’16 (Wesleyan)

In a weekend where offense ruled overall, Pittore was stellar in the second game of Wesleyan’s series. He pitched a complete seven inning game and shut down the Williams lineup completely. He allowed only one unearned run. The start drops his ERA to 2.67 for the year. A big key for Pittore is his control. He has walked only two batters per nine innings, and likes to attack hitters early in the count. In his four stars so far, he has averaged nearly seven innings which has been helpful to the Cardinals who have to rely on their starting catcher Nick Miceli ’17 as one of their top relievers. Pittore looks confident and in control so far in his junior year.

Starting Pitcher/DH Soren Hanson ’16 (Colby)

Another good pitching performance came from Hanson, who returned to play after missing the second half of Colby’s Florida trip to lead the Mules to a huge doubleheader sweep of Trinity to take the series against the Bantams. In the first game Hanson was on the mound for all seven innings and allowed no runs on only four hits and two walks. Then in the second game he went 1-3 and scored two runs to help Colby win 5-3. Hanson is one of a few two-way players in the NESCAC right now, but no team relies so heavily on them to perform as Colby does. In limited at-bats so far, Hanson has an OBP of .450. When he is in the lineup he usually bats cleanup, but on Saturday when he was pitching, Colby kept him out of the lineup. That allowed him to focus on pitching, something he did quite well.

Shortstop Matt Moser ’16 (Tufts)

We probably won’t see a better stat line for a single game than what Moser put up Saturday in a non-conference game against Brandeis. He went 5-5 with four runs, eight RBI, and three (three!) home runs. Tufts went bonkers as a team scoring 28 runs in only seven innings of play. Moser was the star, however. The junior had been enjoying a very productive but somewhat quiet season thus far with other players like Tommy O’Hara ’18 and Bryan Egan ’15 grabbing more of the hitting headlines. Now suddenly he sits in the top five in the NESCAC for a lot of different hitting categories. Unlike most of the Tufts roster, he doesn’t walk very often and swings at almost everything. Like many other shortstops, Moser has his fair share of errors, but not many other shortstops are able to hit for power like Moser can.

Stock Down

Williams’ Base Running

Down 7-5 entering the final inning of the third game against Wesleyan, the Ephs managed to get two runners on with two outs. Adam Dulsky ’18 singled to right and Luke Pierce ’15, the lead runner, scored to make it 7-6, but the trail runner, pinch-runner Lev Schecter ’18 was gunned out at third on a great throw from right fielder Ben Hoynes ’15. The general rule in baseball is never to make the first or third out of the inning at third base, but hard to fault Schecter in that situation. Give the credit to Hoynes for making a money throw in a pressure situation. One of the major reasons why Wesleyan is the clear favorite right now is because they have experience at every position and are not relying on underclassmen in crucial situations.

 Bowdoin Defense

After winning the first game of their doubleheader against Bates 15-4, the Polar Bears saw their defense let them down and lost the second game 9-5 to drop to 2-3 in the NESCAC now. Four different players committed errors which led to three unearned runs. The loss for Bowdoin is a big set back for them. The Polar Bears have lost the three NESCAC games not started by Henry Van Zant ’15, and their offense has fluctuated wildly between very good and mediocre. Besides Van Zant, the rest of the Bowdoin staff relies on the defense to make plays behind them. Their defense had actually been one of the better ones in the NESCAC before yesterday, but now Bowdoin is going to have to finish strong to return to the playoffs.


The opening NESCAC weekend for Trinity confirmed that last year was not some weird fluke; the Bantams are a flawed team that has fallen back to the pack. The walk-off home run by Daniel Pidgeon ’16 in the first game against Colby looked like a huge moment, but the Bantams squandered the opportunity by dropping both games on Saturday. Their offense went cold which has been the overarching problem for Trinity. As a team Trinity has the lowest OBP and Slugging Percentage in the NESCAC. The Bantams have now lost five straight NESCAC series with their last win coming all the way back in 2013. Trinity has a huge series coming up against Tufts this weekend. They need to win at least one of those games if they want to make a push for the playoffs.