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).

Baseball Starting Nine: What You Have Missed Thus Far

Baseball returns to New England this coming weekend. Get ready. (Courtesy of Tufts University)
Baseball returns to New England this coming weekend. Get ready. (Courtesy of Tufts University)

Been too busy watching basketball and avoiding the snow to remember that NESCAC baseball is in full swing at this point? You certainly were not alone. It has been easy to lose sight of everything going on down south, but we kept close tabs for you. With the NESCAC conference season starting Friday, get ready for our season predictions and other analysis coming later this week. In the meantime, here are nine things you need to know about.

1. Wesleyan has experience for days: A quick perusal of the Wesleyan statistics tells us very clearly that freshmen are not going to see much playing time. Through twelve games, the only stats accrued by freshmen are four at-bats. Besides that a returning player has played every pitch and at-bat. That ability to have exclusively upperclassmen separates the Cardinals from every other team that has to rely on some freshmen to fill crucial roles. The returning champions have every reason to be confident.

2. Cardinals have impressed: Sticking with the defending champions for our second point. As we mentioned in our season preview, Wesleyan played a challenging spring trip schedule, and overall they showed they belong with the best. Their 8-4 victory over #7 Cal Lutheran was a high water mark that brought them to 5-0 for the season. Ace Nick Cooney ’15 started and won that game for Wesleyan. Wesleyan stumbled a bit near the end of the trip and is now 8-4, but they still are the most impressive team to this point. Guy Davidson ’16 has a slashline of .395/.477/.684 to lead the offense. Wesleyan probably hasn’t hit their stride yet, and they are already pretty scary looking.

3. Dylan Sinnickson ’15 is bashing baseballs: The return of Sinnickson to the diamond is a big reason why there is a sliver of hope around the Middlebury team, and he wasted no time making an impact. In the Panthers opening doubleheader Saturday, Sinnickson went 5-9 and hit THREE home runs. Then he hit another in the Panthers first game on Sunday to tie for the league lead after only three games. The team’s pitching against him probably had no idea who he was and he likely saw some fat fastballs that he was able to eat up, but still, not many players in the NESCAC can do hit four homers in three games. To take a year off from baseball and come back hitting like that is incredible and shows the type of athlete he is.

4. Bowdoin and Trinity struggled: The two East Division teams both have their sights set on returning to the playoffs, but they need to improve on their play quickly. Bowdoin went 5-8 on their Florida trip while the Bantams went 7-5. The Bowdoin staff saw nobody pitch well and the team had a 5.58 ERA. The front of the rotation guys like Erik Jacobsen ’15 and Harry Ridge ’16 pitched decently while Henry Van Zant ’15 started only one game. Meanwhile Trinity’s problem of hitting for no power carried over to this season. As a team the Bantams slugged .357 in their 12 games and had nobody hit a single home run. The good news is that their top two pitchers Sean Meekins ’15 and Jed Robinson ’16 looked fantastic.


5. Tommy O’Hara ’18 big for Tufts: The weakness of Tufts is their lineup, but O’Hara looks like he is going to solve a good deal of that problem single-handedly. The freshman third baseman was Tufts’ best hitter on their trip to Virginia and North Carolina. He had a ridiculous .564 OBP in 42 at-bats. With a 1:1 K:BB ratio, he should be able to carry over that type of hitting to the conference season. Don’t expect him to finish with an OBP above .500, but the Illinois native will be a huge bat in the middle of the Tufts lineup that appeared a bat or two away from being elite before the season started.

6. Amherst pitching is unsettled: The big reason why the Jeffs went only 6-6 on their trip was a pitching staff that saw a lot of players auditioning for a starting role. Six different pitchers started games for the Jeffs, and John Cook ’15 started only one game in part to let others get a chance to show their stuff. Drew Fischer ’18 flashed his massive potential with 15 strikeouts in only 8.2 innings. The problem is that he also walked nine batters. He will have to do a better job of trusting his fielders and not simply trying to strike everybody out. Jackson Volle ’17 had two solid starts and might have won the third rotation start because he appears to be more consistent than the flashy Fischer.

7. Rob DiFranco ’16 emerging for Bates: The transition from reliever to starter is going well for DiFranco so far with two starts and two wins. Granted, the first start he only went two innings. He has allowed only one run in eight innings so far, and he has yet to walk an opposing batter. DiFranco only went five innings in his longest start so far so we have not seen whether he can go deep into games yet, but the early returns are promising. Combined with Will Levangie ’15 thus far, and the Bobcats rotation has been solid.

8. Hamilton sophomores stepping up: Joe Jensen ’15 has been fantastic like you would expect him to be, and the Continentals are hitting better behind as well. Chris Collins ’17, Kenny Collins ’17, Ryan Wolfsberg ’17, and Andrew Haser ’17 are all hitting .333 or better. Haser in particular has been impressive after having an OBP below .300 in 2014. Having this core group of sophomores be consistent threats in the lineup makes Hamilton a much more dangerous team to pitch against. The Continentals will get the chance to see whether it stands up against Wesleyan this weekend.

9. Remember the sample size caveat: Do not get carried away with all the results so far. Statistics tells us that through random probability some players will get hot  A lot of things are going to change as we go forward. When assessing the worth of early season statistics, keep in mind Bayes’ theorem. While the idea is sort of complicated, the idea is lend more weight to events that confirm what we thought already and give pause to events that contradict what we thought. So for example, we can trust that Jensen hitting above .500 is not a fluke because we knew already that he was really freaking good at baseball.

Bevy of Seniors Look to Bounce Back: Bowdoin Baseball Season Preview

Peter Cimini (#25) will be a big part of the Bowdoin lineup this season. (Courtesy of CIPhotography.com)
Peter Cimini (#25) will be a big part of the Bowdoin lineup this season. (Courtesy of CIPhotography.com)

2014 Record: 18-16-1 (5-7, Fourth in the NESCAC East)

Postseason Outcome: Missed NESCAC Playoffs

Returning Starters: 9 (6 Position Players, 3 Starting Pitchers)

Projected Starting Lineup (Stats are from 2014)

2B Aaron Rosen ’15 (.331/.396/.496, 0 HR, 19 RBI)
LF Cole DiRoberto ’15 (.301/.358/.376, 1 HR, 10 RBI)
CF Peter Cimini ’16 (.279/.367/.404, 1 HR, 20 RBI)
DH Chad Martin ’16 (.333/.362/.496, 4 HR, 30 RBI)
3B Sam Canales ’15 (.304/.368/.363, 0 HR, 13 RBI)
1B Erik Jacobsn ’15 (.277/.358/.349, 1 HR, 11 RBI)
C Chris Nadeau ’16 (.196/.327/.217, 0 HR, 3 RBI)
SS Sean Mullaney ’17 (.180/.349/.180, 0 HR, 6 RBI)
RF Joe Gentile ’18

RHP Henry Van Zant ’15 (1-2, 1.95 ERA)
RHP Erik Jacobson ’15 (3-3, 4.09 ERA)
LHP Harry Ridge ’16 (4-2, 2.87 ERA)

Offensive Overview:

The offensive core returns for Bowdoin as six of the top seven OBP performers from last season are back. The bad news is that this group sputtered in conference play finishing with the second fewest runs scored. The top of the lineup should be very good with Aaron Rosen ’15, First Team All-NESCAC in 2014, getting things started. Peter Cimini ’16 and Chad Martin ’16 will look to build off of their breakout sophomore campaigns. Those two were two of the biggest positives from last season. They will need to provide most of the power for this lineup.  Sam Canales ’15, Erik Jacobsen ’15 and Cole DiRoberto ’15 are line drive hitters who will be very solid cogs for Bowdoin. The bottom of the lineup is a big question mark. Both Chris Nadeau ’16 and Sean Mullaney ’17 played occasionally last season and hit below the Mendoza line. Joe Gentile ’18 is the frontrunner to grab the final outfield spot and has above average speed, but freshmen regularly struggle to adjust to collegiate pitching. The bottom of the lineup needs to be serviceable while the guys who have proven themselves must be special.

Defensive Overview:

First of all, we lack the advanced stats or the extensive scouting that allow us to break down defense like they do at the professional level. From what we know, the Bowdoin defense was neither a strength or weakness overall, but they made some critical errors in conference that cost them. Cimini will have to replace speedy centerfielder Kyle LeBlanc ’14, and he is flanked by DiRoberto and Gentile, two players who are question marks defensively. The infield should be a strength with the duo of Rosen and Mullaney a potent double-play combination. Nadeau only threw out three of the 18 base runners who attempted to steal against him. That percentage must, and should, go up by a lot. The defense is unlikely to be a game-changer for Bowdoin, but they should be more sure handed and commit fewer errors than last season.

Pitching Overview:

The strength of Bowdoin is a pitching staff that was very good despite injuries to their presumed top two starters. Now the staff that had the second best overall ERA behind Tufts returns their top four starters and closer. Ace Henry Van Zant ’15 was only able to pitch near the end of the season, but he looked great tossing a casual 1.95 ERA in 27.2 innings. Harry Ridge ’16 and Erik Jacobson ’15 both return after posting solid though not remarkable numbers. Jon Fraser ’15 emerged as a legitimate weapon out of the bullpen with an eye-popping 0.76 ERA to go with a 11.03 K/9 rate. Michael Staes ’16 also pitched very well and looks to be the first guy up if someone in front of him stumbles or gets hurt. Finally, keep an eye on freshman Logan Simon ’18, a freshman from recent baseball powerhouse Harvard-Westlake in California. He will get innings early on in Florida to get a good look at what he can do.

Storylines to Watch

1. How much do they steal?

Though Bowdoin doesn’t lose a lot of production from last year on offense, a good deal of their 40 steals from a year ago are no longer on the roster. Rosen is the only significant threat to steal a base, and even he only stole eight times in 2014. Cimini has good speed, but Manager Mike Connelly might be loathe to let him loose if Martin bats behind him. If the back end of the lineup gets on base more, Connelly might set them loose in order to create havoc on the base paths. On the other hand, the Polar Bears might choose to simply eschew stealing for the most part and instead concentrate on smart, safe base running.

2. Does SP Harry Ridge ’16 wear down again?

In each of the past two seasons, Ridge has started the season off by pitching a few games beautifully before seeing his numbers dip significantly in the second half. This might make sense if Ridge was a power pitcher unused to throwing so many innings, but he is actually a control pitcher who strikes few guys out even when he is pitching well. Why he has struggled so much in the second half is somewhat of a mystery, but the third time might be the charm. One of the problems for Ridge was the defense behind him committing a lot of errors with him on the mound. Some of that is because pretty much everybody puts balls in play against him, but he should have better luck this season.

3. Can the entire lineup hit?

This is probably the biggest question for the Polar Bears. The bottom three hitters in their lineup do not project to hit very well. That impact is huge as pitchers are able to relax and pound the zone for a couple of hitters. The best hitters for Bowdoin will not see as good pitches because opponents will depend on getting Bowdoin hitters out with runners on base. Big innings become very hard also. The best NESCAC teams have threats at every spot in the lineup.  The Polar Bears don’t need Mullaney, Nadeau and company to hit like rock stars down there, but they need to at least put the ball in play and make the defense get them out. Bowdoin was near the league lead in strikeouts last season.

Biggest Series: At Bates April 3 and 4.

The good news for Bowdoin is that the second spot in the East behind Tufts looks wide-open, and they probably have the most returning talent of any of the remaining four teams. Bowdoin opens the NESCAC season against Tufts, but their series the next weekend against Bates will tell us whether this team is capable of returning to the playoffs. Taking two out of three will go a long way towards getting Bowdoin to the top of the heap. Last season Bates took two of three from Bowdoin in what turned out to be a huge series for the Bobcats. Also, we would be surprised if these games happen at Bates on schedule given all the snow still on the ground.

Stock Report April 29

We recapped the action of what went down this weekend last night in our roundup. Now it is time to look at the people who were the biggest movers this weekend. For the playoffs, it’s often better to be hot than good, so take that to heart as teams gear up for the playoffs which are still two weekends away.

Stock Up:

1. Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15 – First Baseman (Wesleyan) – Goodwin-Boyd has been absolutely mashing since conference play got started. He didn’t let up this weekend hitting a huge home run in the first game against Amherst before topping that by hitting another one in the next game that was the only damage Wesleyan could do against Amherst’s John Cook ’15. That was enough, though, as great pitching on both teams led to a 1-1 tie entering the bottom of the ninth. Wesleyan pushed across a run to walk-off with the win, they’re second in conference play, and the West division title. Goodwin-Boyd owns a tidy .566 slugging percentage which goes a long way towards explaining how he has a league-leading 32 RBIs. Wesleyan was the first team that really got to Amherst’s pitching even though Amherst still pitched very well overall. Winning the division is huge for the Cardinals because Wesleyan should get to avoid Tufts and instead get a much weaker (though hot) Bates.

2. Christian Sbily ’14 – Starting Pitcher (Tufts) – We have dedicated most of our virtual ink to talking about Tufts’ top two of Kyle Slinger ’15 and Tim Superko ’17, but the number three has been so good that he merits equal credit for Tufts’ success. Like so many others, Sbily has been at his best in recent weeks. He shut out Colby for seven innings last week and yesterday he scattered five hits for the complete game shutout. Sbily isn’t the same type of power pitcher the other two are, but he goes deep into games because he is able to have consistently low pitch counts. He is a huge advantage for Tufts because while many NESCAC teams have aces comparable to Slinger and Superko, Sbily is almost unmatched as a third starter. Sbily could be the difference-maker for Tufts in the NESCAC Championship.

3. Thomas Murphy ’15 and Steve Marino ’14 – Starting Pitchers (Williams) – This has not been a banner season for the Williams pitching staff, but this duo really came through yesterday as Williams swept Hamilton. Murphy went all seven innings to win a duel between him and Jjay Lane ’15.  Williams pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to come away with the victory. Marino was just as good going all nine innings, striking out nine, and limiting Hamilton to three earned runs. For Marino, it was an especially high note in his final conference game. Williams wasn’t good enough to hang with the big boys, but if they pitch this well consistently they will have more than a fighter’s chance next year.

4. Chris Fusco ’14 – Starting Pitcher (Bates) – We saw a lot of great pitching performances this weekend, and the love we’ve been doling out in this section is well-deserved. Fusco didn’t have a great day, but he came through to toss 5.2 innings of two-run ball in the deciding game of the Bates-Colby series. Fusco has a tendency to give up homers (five on the season), and Jason Buco ’15 hit another one against him yesterday, but Fusco was very good besides that. Bates had already gotten a PHENOMENAL start by Brad Reynolds ’14, but that alone wasn’t going to be enough. Bates didn’t look like a playoff team way back in February when they were making errors all over the place, but their best players have carried them this far. In a short series they are dangerous.

Stock Down:

1. Ryder Arsenault ’17 – Center Fielder (Colby) – Arsenault has been a enormous part of Colby’s surprise run in the East, but he, like the team, ran out of steam at the end. In the first game Arsenault struck out three times, contributing to the 12 Colby strikouts on the day. Yesterday he saw only one plate appearance, pinch hitting at the end of the third game. We don’t know if his benching was purely performance-related or if he has some type of injury that hindered his play, but the Colby offense really sputtered this weekend. Getting shut down by Bates’ ace Reynolds wasn’t a huge surprise, but they barely got anything going the other two games as well. Arsenault is one of many talented players coming back next year for Colby.

2. Erik Jacobsen ’15 Starting Pitcher/Infielder (Bowdoin) – Bowdoin knew going into the weekend that they needed to sweep Tufts to have a chance at the postseason. The Polar Bears were the first team to give Kyle Slinger ’15 issues as they won the first game of the series. Jacobsen has been solid all season, but Tufts jumped on him early and he didn’t make it out of the third inning in Game Two. The Bowdoin bullpen limited the damage, but the Tufts pitching is too good to make up an early deficit. An offense that has seen some players step up, but other more established ones struggle, couldn’t muster much of a comeback in the eventual 5-1 loss. Understandably after that disappointment, Bowdoin didn’t muster much of a challenge in the third game, losing 14-0.

The Weekend Preview April 11

We made it to week three of conference play. It finally feels like spring in most of New England even though that still means 50 degrees is warm for most of us. Bates and Amherst are off from conference play, but the rest of the teams play crucial games this weekend.

Marquee Matchup: Bowdoin (12-6-1, 3-3) vs. Colby (10-5, 2-1)

This matchup lacks the gravitas that one might expect from the best series of the weekend. A very strong case could be made that the Wesleyan-Williams series will have the most impact on the standings, but Bowdoin-Colby is still a CBB (Colby, Bowdoin, Bates) matchup with playoff implications. The results of this series will continue the process of sorting out the East behind Tufts.

Bowdoin took a step back last weekend losing two of three against Bates to fall to .500 in conference. Two way player Erik Jacobsen ’15 has arguably been the Bears MVP so far. While his 4.34 ERA doesn’t look great, most of that came as a result of his outing against Bates. What has made him so important is his hitting. Jacobsen’s slashline of .375/.455/.500 is a substantial improvement from last year’s respectable .310/.353/.391. He has had multiple hits in his last three games leading up to this weekend as well. Shortstop Aaron Rosen ’15 has been hitting the ball better highlighted by his 4-5 performance against St. Josephs on Wednesday. A potential difference maker is the bullpen. Michael Staes ’16 (1.45 ERA) and Jon Fraser ’15 (1.74) have looked great in limited roles and could pitch significant innings if one of the starters gets into trouble early.

For Colby everything starts offensively with stud outfielder Jason Buco ’15. His two home runs over the weekend puts him at a league leading four for the season, and his .774 slugging percentage is the best in the NESCAC. His partner in crime is third baseman Kevin Galvin ’14. The Rhode Islander has been one of the most improved players in the NESCAC going from a .267 OBP in 2013 to almost doubling that with a .491 mark this year. The pitching has been much improved as well. Scott Goldberg ’15 has already taken home a NESCAC Pitcher of the Week award. Meanwhile presumptive ace Soren Hanson ’16 has gone six innings and allowed three earned runs in all three of his starts. His strikeouts have gone up every game, so don’t be surprised if he puts it together for the first time very soon. A great start by him would be humongous for the Mules.

Three to Watch

1. Wesleyan Pitching Staff

Yes it is cheating to say you should watch an entire pitching staff and not just one player, but this is an absolutely huge weekend for every pitcher on Wesleyan. Williams showed against Amherst they could hit elite pitching, albeit not at the absurd level they were destroying other pitchers. Wesleyan pitching was straight up bad at the beginning of the season bottoming out when they let up 24 runs to Gustavus Aldophus. At that point their team ERA was 8.03, but in the seven games since then Wesleyan has had a 1.68 ERA. The overall ERA is now 4.85, and if Wesleyan can pitch just at that level it should be enough this weekend. Leading the turnaround have been Nick Cooney ’15, Jeff Blout ’14 and Gavin Pittore ’16. Blout has seen the greatest improvement of all; through four appearances he owned a 9.24 ERA, and in two starts since he has allowed one run for a 0.75 ERA. If Wesleyan wins two out of three the West Division playoff race ceases to exist unless Wesleyan and Amherst falter against lesser opponents.

2. Ryan Carr ’14 Starting Pitcher (Trinity)

The senior has started the final game of both series in conference, and those two games represent Trinity’s only victories in the NESCAC. Despite being 2-4 Trinity still has a chance to make the playoffs, but they need to take two out of three from Tufts for that to be a possibility. Carr hasn’t been spectacular with a 3.62 ERA, and he doesn’t strike a ton of guys out. With the Bantams visiting a powerful Tufts team, Carr needs to come up big once again for his team. If Carr tosses a gem and the Bantams manage to steal another game this weekend, a disappointing season could turn into a late rebound.

3. Zack Becker ’16 Second Baseman (Hamilton)

Becker was expected to do big things his sophomore year after a phenomenal rookie campaign, but it just hasn’t been there for the West Hartford kid. He has gotten on base at a below average rate of .317 OBP, and his slugging percentage is an abysmal .306. He had seemed to turn a corner hitting a homer and then registering his first multi-hit game in a March 24 doubleheader, but he is hitless in three games since then. Becker is too good to continue to struggle, and a breakout is a matter of when not if. Hamilton desperately needs him to be a middle of the order force because some of the freshmen they are having to play are really struggling. A Middlebury team that battled Wesleyan very hard comes to Clinton hungrily looking for their first conference victory. Becker’s time to step up is now.

East Power Rankings April 9

Two weekends of conference of play have gone by, and the East Division looks increasingly muddled. We knew entering the season that Bates and Colby would be improved, Bowdoin and Trinity had lost a lot of talent, and Tufts probably had the most potential in the division. All of that has held true, and it has made the first two weekends unpredictable. Without further ado, here are my rankings of the East so far this season.

1. Tufts (17-1, 1-0) – Putting Tufts first is an easy choice given their dominance so far this season. Yet they have only played one conference game because they were off this weekend and had their doubleheader against Bates postponed two weekends ago. Centerfielder Connor McDavitt ’15 has been outstanding at the top of the linep with a .449 OBP and seven stolen bases without being thrown out once. The Jumbos have great balance on offense and rival Amherst for the best staff in the league. The only possible wart they have shown thus far is their propensity to allow a lot of walks. Ace Kyle Slinger ’15 especially has given out a lot of free passes with 16 walks in 32 innings. Besides that Tufts doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses. Tufts has proven beyond a doubt that they are the best team on paper, but we still aren’t sure how they will look in conference play. Even if they sweep Trinity to go to 4-0 in conference it probably tells us more about Trinity than Tufts. Still, given their talent level, any finish below first in the East will be a surprise.

2. Colby (10-4, 2-1) – This has been the NESCAC’s surprise team so far this season, but people should probably wait a weekend before piling onto the bandwagon. The Colby-Bowdoin series on Friday and Saturday will show if Colby will be in it for the long haul. Right now the Mules are riding high after taking two of three from Trinity. Jason Buco ’15 made us look pretty smart for highlighting him on Friday when he hit two homers the first game of the weekend to up his season total to four. Scott Goldberg ’15 was chased in the fifth inning by the Trinity bats, but Lucas Geoghegan ’14 was superb in relief going 4.1 scoreless innings for the win as Buco’s second homer in the seventh proved to be the difference. Colby couldn’t complete the sweep when Trinity broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth of the finale, but they are still happy with the weekend’s results. Geoghegan (1.76 ERA) has rebounded to his 2012 performance after he saw limited action last season, and both Greg Ladd ’15 (2.50 ERA) and Goldberg (1.53 ERA) have taken a big step forward. All of this has helped Colby’s pitching be much better than last year. If that pitching continues then Colby will prove they aren’t a fluke.

3. Bowdoin (11-6-1, 3-3) – Wait didn’t Bates just beat Bowdoin in two out of three games this weekend! Look, Bates played great and gave Bowdoin trouble, but I am not going to overreact to one weekend of games even if they were head-to-head. Bowdoin is still rounding into form on the mound with Christian Martin ’14 making his first appearance of the year and Henry Van Zant ’15 making his third relief appearance. Bates knocked around both Erik Jacobsen ’15 and Harry Ridge ’16 in the first two games, but the two should rebound. Ridge had been spectacular so far until he allowed six runs in only three innings on Saturday prompting some to worry he will see a repeat of last season when he struggled in some starts while looking great in others. Outfielder John Lefeber ’14 has really struggled in the six league games going 2-22 at the plate. He and Aaron Rosen ’15 (.276 AVG) have yet to bust out at the plate, but have done a good job drawing walks to get on base.  Expect those two to show up big in the next few weekends. The good news is that Jay Loughlin ’14 came up huge on the mound in the final game to give Bowdoin the win in the finale, and Bowdoin can reclaim control of their destiny by winning this weekend against Colby.

4. Bates (8-9, 2-2) – They showed why some thought that the Bobcats were primed for a surprise run this season this past weekend against Bowdoin. Our other player to watch heading in to the weekend, Brad Reynolds ’14, won NESCAC Pitcher of the Week after he went six innings, allowed only one (unearned) run, and struck out ten. Kevin Davis ’14 went 8-13 and had an impressive 10 RBIs over the three games. There are a lot of positives right now for Bates, but they are still below .500 on the season. Number two starter Chris Fusco ’14 got knocked around in the second game though the offense was good enough to overcome his lackluster start. Will Levangie ’15 probably solidified his status as the third starter with his performance in the final game, but that was really his first good performance of the season. Behind Davis and Griffin Tewksbury ’14 the offense has been very lackluster. Bates needs those two to continue to rake and others to step up in order for the offense to offset some of the questions about the pitching behind Reynolds.

5. Trinity (7-12, 2-4) – By far the biggest disappointment to-date in the NESCAC in head coach Bryan Adamski’s first season, the Bantams have shown flashes, but at this point it is looking more and more unlikely that they will be able to make a playoff push. The question is exactly how far they have fallen. An optimistic view says they are good enough to steal a game from Tufts and could easily win or even sweep their series against Bates. A pessimist says we are judging them off of past success and they really aren’t that good. The pessimistic view also suggests that we are overrating Colby and Bowdoin for their series victory over the Bantams. The starting pitching this weekend against Colby was very good in every game, but in the first two games the bullpen faltered. The offense was pretty much dormant until it exploded for five runs in the final inning of the second game. The rally fell short by one run, but showed Trinity is not going to go quietly into the night. Brian Wolfe ’15 and Scott Pidgeon ’15 have been carrying the offense, and they need others to step up. With three games still remaining against Tufts, Trinity is in position to force a rise through the rankings if they can put the pieces together.