America’s Pastime Returns to the NESCAC: Baseball Season Preview

Tim Superko ’17 and the Jumbos look to defend their NESCAC title in 2017 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).

Editor’s Note: At this point, pretty much every NESCAC baseball team has had a chance to get out on the field and play some games (aside from Williams, who plays their season opener tonight). Devin Rosen is joining us for our NESCAC baseball coverage this spring, which is perfectly timed since we lose a couple writers, Colby and Rory, due to their roles on the Middlebury and Tufts baseball teams. The beginning of the NESCAC baseball season is always a mess for coverage since teams always try to cram as many games as possible into their spring breaks. Once NESCAC games roll around, we will be much more organized with our content. Until then, enjoy this preview of the NESCAC baseball season that Devin put together!

East

Bates

Ryan McCarthy ’17 is primed to lead Bates back to the playoffs this season (Courtesy of Bates Athletics).

Bates opens the season with new coach Jon Martin who comes from the head coaching position at Vassar College. He looks to turn last year’s 14-21 record (4-8 in conference) into a more productive season in 2017. Helping his transition at the leadership helm are senior captains Ryan McCarthy and Brendan Fox. McCarthy has been a three year starter in the outfield for the Bobcats, and 2016 Second-Team All-NESCAC shortstop Fox looks to continue his success after hitting .377 last season. The Bates rotation and bullpen returns most of its staff and is led by Connor Speed ‘18 who looks to open the season as Bates’ number one starter. Anthony Telesca ’17 adds to the returning rotation as well providing depth in the rotation. After a break out year last season, Connor Russell ‘18 aims to round out the Bates rotation. The strong core of returning players for Bates gives the Bobcats the potential to put up a strong fight in the NESCAC this year. In his first season in Lewiston, Coach Martin will have to use his returners to help him achieve a successful season. If Fox can lead the bats, then the solid pitching staff can keep Bates in contention in the competitive NESCAC East.

 

Bowdoin

Brandon Lopez ’19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics).

Bowdoin had a decently successful 22-14 campaign last spring, but looks to avenge their 4-8 in conference record this season. To do so, however, their pitching staff must fill in the spots of two now-graduated starters who combined for over 93 innings last season. Sophomore Brandon Lopez ’19 looks to be the number one guy for the polar bears after a solid freshman season as a starter. After him, however, it seems that Coach Mike Connolly will have to find a few arms out of the large junior class to eat up innings. Sean Mullaney ’17 aims to maintain his position as the team’s consistent top hitter after having a .304 average in 115 at bats last spring. Similar to the pitching staff, the young talent on this offense will have to step up in order to compete with the rest of the NESCAC. Bowdoin showed promise in their overall record last year and aims to replicate it both in and out of conference.

 

Colby

Brooks Parker ’19 (Courtesy of Colby Athletics).

Colby looks to turn their luck around after a disappointing season last spring. This task is made even tougher after graduating a First-Team All-NESCAC first baseman, Soren Hanson ’16, and a Second-Team All-NESCAC third baseman, Zach Ellenthal ‘16. Sophomore Andrew Currier looks to lead the way in doing so after posting a solid freshman spring which included 20 RBIs. The rest of the lineup will depend on hitting from other lower classmen. On the mound, the Mules graduated their number one starter, Hanson, and most reliable reliever, Tommy Forese. However, just like the lineup, young pitchers such as Brooks Parker ’19 and Will Cohen ’19 gained valuable experience in just their first spring. Look for Coach Dale Plummer to ride these young arms throughout the season while also depending on the more experienced juniors Dan Schoenfeld ’18 and Bobby Forese ‘18. Colby’s lineup and pitching staff took a hit from the most recent graduating class, but look for the young Mules to step up their game. Despite a smaller presence from the senior class, the underclassmen have the potential to compete with the top teams in the NESCAC after gaining a year of valuable experience.

 

Trinity

Brendan Pierce ’18 is off to a hot start for the Bantams in 2017 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).

Trinity enters the season having lost high caliber seniors from last spring including First-Team All-NESCAC catcher Scott Cullinane and Second-Team All-NESCAC outfielder Nick Pezzella, as well as their most reliable reliever Sam Jordan, all of whom contributed to a 7-5 conference record. The Bantams’ success in the NESCAC East earned them a playoff appearance, and they advanced to the NESCAC Championship game before losing to in-conference rival Tufts. Despite the talent lost, first baseman Johnny Stamatis ’19 is back after hitting .309 and earning a Second-Team All-NESCAC nod in his first college season. Another key returning bat is NbN writer and Trinity infielder Nick DiBenedetto ’17, who posted a .357 average last spring. On the other side of the roster stands Anthony Egeln Jr. ’18. He is the only returning consistent starter, but after posting a 4-2 record last spring, Egeln Jr looks to take over as the number one starter in the program. In order to keep up with the tough NESCAC East, Trinity’s young talent must replace last year’s seniors with some fluidity. The rotation’s consistency will make or break Trinity’s season as long as their bats heat up.

 

Tufts

The Jumbos are coming off a dominating performance after achieving the best season in school history. With an 11-1 in-conference record and 35-8 overall record, Tufts returns the core of its team. 2x First-Team All-NESCAC third baseman Tommy O’Hara ‘18 leads this stacked line-up along with captain First-Team All-NESCAC outfielder Harry Brown ‘17, who hit a team leading .397 average in 2016. Behind the plate, sophomore catchers Harrison Frickman and Eric Schnepf have a year under their belt after being thrusted into a timeshare of the starting role behind the plate as freshmen last season. In addition to a powerful line-up, Tufts returns most of its dominating pitching staff. Led by captains Speros Varinos ’17 and Tim Superko ‘17, the rotation looks to remain the best in the conference after posting a team ERA of 3.25, over a full run less per game than the second-best ERA in the league. Varinos, the reigning pitcher of the year, looks to best last year’s All-American performance, which included a 2.15 ERA and league-leading 79 strikeouts. He also tied fellow teammate, RJ Hall ’19 with a league-leading 7 wins. Additionally, our very own, Rory Ziomek adds depth to the staff. Tufts has the fire power to maintain their status as the best team in the league, and has their sights set on not only a NESCAC Championship, but a NCAA Regional Championship as well after coming up just short last spring.

 

West

Amherst

Harry Roberson ’18 is back and ready to help his team win the NESCAC Championship this year (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).

Amherst looks to stay atop the NESCAC West this upcoming season, and the will jump on the back of First-Team All-NESCAC pitcher Jackson Volle ‘17, who had a league leading 1.79 ERA. The pitching staff aims to maintain its status as one of the best in the league, but we will have to wait to see who joins Volle atop the staff after losing a few arms to graduation. At the plate, Amherst returns two Second-Team All-NESCAC selections: shortstop Harry Roberson ’18 and outfielder Anthony Spina ‘17. Roberson had an impressive .336 average while Spina tied the league lead in homeruns with 6. Joining them in this impressive lineup are Ariel Kenney ‘18, who had a team leading 52 hits, and infielder Max Steinhorn ‘18. Outfielder Yanni Thanopoulos ’17 rounds out the lineup that hit a remarkable .316 as a group last year. Amherst has the potential to not only compete in the NESCAC, but to compete for its top spot. Volle gives them a consistently dominant starter while their lineup can hit any arm in the league. If Amherst plays up to their potential, look for them to stay atop the Conference.

 

Hamilton

Hamilton will try to knock off Wesleyan and Amherst in 2017 in order to reach the NESCAC Tournament (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics).

Hamilton’s ferocious lineup from last season returns its top hitters, including First-Team All-NESCAC outfielder Ryan Wolfsberg ’17, who led the conference in slugging percentage (.645) to go along with a .418 batting average. Adding even more power to the lineup is Andrew Haser ’17, who was tied for the league lead with 6 homeruns last spring. The Hamilton pitching staff is forced to replace now-graduated pitcher Cole Dreyfuss, and first in line to do so are Spencer Vogelbach ‘18 and Dan DePaoli ’18. Look for these two juniors to eat up significant innings for Coach Byrnes. Rounding out the staff is Max Jones ’19, who threw 35.2 innings with a 3.53 ERA in his freshman campaign. Hamilton’s success will depend on its lineup and rotation performing up to their potential. The experienced pitching staff will have the chance to prove they can compete with the best of the NESCAC, and the returning Continental bats have the power to hit any arm in the league. If this occurs, Hamilton will be considered a force to be reckoned with in the competitive NESCAC West.

 

Middlebury

Colby Morris ’19 leads the Middlebury staff in 2017 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics).

Middlebury enters the year looking to replace its key seniors from last season. However, plenty of now-sophomores including OF Sam Graf and SS Spencer Tonies, now have a year of experience to potentially improve their campaign from last season. Junior Brendan Donohue will also look to build off his .316 season in contribution to the Panthers season. Pitching, on the other hand, seems to be a plus for the Panthers both now and in the future. Sophomore starters Colby Morris (legendary NbN writer) and John Bunting led the team in innings last season, but with Bunting having transferred, Morris will be looked to to handle even more of the load. Seniors Dylan Takamori and Tucker Meredith additionally look to contribute to the strong staff. Last season Middlebury had a 6-6 in-conference record and aims to stand over .500 this season. To do so, Coach Mike Leonard will have to depend on his pitching staff, comprised of mostly returners. If the Panther bats can stay consistent, the rotation and bullpen can keep Middlebury relevant in the NESCAC West.

 

Wesleyan

Will O’Sullivan ’17 will lead the Cardinals offense this spring (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics).

The Cardinals look to repeat last year’s impressive 23-12 record along with winning the NESCAC West. Despite losing three senior bats hitting over .330, including the Player of the Year Marco Baratta, Wesleyan returns a dangerous lineup. Leading the way are two-way player Nick Miceli ’17, who is coming off a Second-Team All-NESCAC performance, and the Roxbury Latin groomed shortstop Will O’Sullivan, who hit a remarkable .370 last spring. Andrew Keith ‘19 proved his potential last season as well and looks to build on the success he enjoyed in 2016. On the mound, Wesleyan returns a solid core of three pitchers, including Miceli, who is joined by Ethan Rode ‘17 and Asher Young ‘17. These seasoned veterans should consume many of the season’s innings. Coach Mark Woodworth will ride his senior leaders throughout the season after they dominated the NESCAC West last spring. As long as his upperclassmen take charge, Wesleyan has the lineup and the rotation to compete for the NESCAC crown.

 

Williams

Luke Rodino ’17 will be in the running for NESCAC Pitcher of the Year once again this spring (Courtesy of Williams Athletics).

Williams aims to get over the .500 hump in NESCAC play this season, and if they do it, their efforts will be led by Second-Team All-NESCAC pitcher Luke Rodino ‘17. He is joined by fellow senior Tyler Duff ’17 as the leaders of the pitching staff. These two seniors look to guide Tom Benz ‘19, Jack Bohen ‘19 and Will O’Brien ‘19, all of whom contributed heavily during their freshman campaign. At the plate, Kellen Hatheway ’19 looks to build on a stellar first year in which he earned the NESCAC Rookie of the Year award after hitting .331 with 21 RBI’s and 24 runs scored. Joining him in the lineup are Adam Regensburg ’18 and Doug Schaffer ’18, as well as Jack Cloud ‘17, who all hit over .300. The freshmen, now sophomore class proved to have the potential to compete against the top teams in the NESCAC. This year for Williams baseball will be about how these sophomores, along with their other key returners, can perform after having last season to rebuild and come together as a group. Williams will use last year’s experience to give them a chance to improve on their record in the NESCAC.

Fight to the Finish: Power Rankings 4/28

It's hard to believe, but with the West still up in the air, Williams, ranked seventh this week, can still make the playoffs with a sweep of the Continentals. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
It’s hard to believe, but with the West still up in the air (like this fastball), Williams, ranked eighth this week, can still make the playoffs with a sweep of the Continentals. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

It’s been about two weeks since we last released our NESCAC Baseball Power Rankings, and lots of epic wins, losses and upsets have happened since then. As teams make their final push for the playoffs, let’s take another look at how the they stack up against one another.

  1. Tufts (23-5, 8-0), Last Rankings: #3
    The Jumbos have proven that you don’t need to be the best in each area of the game to be a winning team—talent and skill can be two different things. Whereas plenty of teams in the NESCAC have talented players, Tufts has players able to utilize their talent in a way that yields success. Their team batting average isn’t great at .296, but their OBP of .427, the third best number in the league, is promising. Even their .405 slugging percentage is admirable. On the mound, Andrew David ’16 (2.22) and Speros Varinos ’18 (2.29) have tortured batters. The East may not be as competitive as the West this season, but let’s not disregard the significance of Tufts’ 8-0 conference record. No other NESCAC team comes close to that. Of course, we haven’t really seen Tufts face the scrappy West teams yet, so we will have to wait until the playoffs to see how these teams really compare.
  2. Wesleyan (18-9, 5-4), Last Rankings: #1
    I’m sure the Cardinals will be furious when they see this drop in the rankings, but you can’t drop two games to Williams (#8)—by at least three runs—and still hold the number one slot. According to statistics and overall performance, Wesleyan would actually place several spots lower in the rankings were it not for their incredible roster of batters, especially Marco Baratta ’16, Guy Davidson ’16 and Will O’Sullivan ’16. These guys bang it out when up at bat, bringing real firepower every time they’re at the plate, and hitting for power is what a team needs to get ahead in the NESCAC. On the mound, ace Nick Miceli ’17 is a phenomenal and crafty pitcher with a solid 2.63 ERA and 45 strikeouts on his resume, while the team’s most successful pitcher after him, Peter Rantz ’16, has just a slightly above-average 4.59 ERA. Having watched Wesleyan’s series against Hamilton, I can say that the Cardinals won the series because the Continentals made ghastly errors in Game 3, not necessarily because the Wesleyan team is far superior, which speaks to the NESCAC’s parity this year. Wesleyan’s deadliest weapon is unquestionably its offense, and they beat their closest competition in that category, Hamilton, last weekend. Their ability to pick up runs will allow them to get ahead, or stay relevant, in each game and compensate for other facets of the game, where they are still good, just not great. However, despite the #2 ranking here, the Cards are playing for their playoff lives this weekend. A sweep of Amherst gets them in for sure, while a 2-1 mark will have them watching the Williams series to see if the Ephs can pull off a sweep. Good for Wesleyan is that a scenario where the Cards, Ephs and the Middlebury Panthers all end 6-6 will put Wesleyan into the postseason because of overall winning percentage.
  3. Amherst (20-8, 6-3), Last Rankings: #2
    Wesleyan and Amherst are pretty interchangeable right now, but the Cardinals’ production at the plate gives them the boost. That being said, the Jeffs are by no means a team to take lightly, and they have a superior rotation to the Cardinals: their record currently leads the West, and their ace Jackson Volle ’17 (1.10 ERA) earned not one but two conference nods for the Pitcher of the Week position. Dave Cunningham ’16 also received attention this week from the conference for his batting and fielding, boasting a .500 average and an error-free performance in the field. Perhaps Amherst’s one weakness is that the team is good in all areas but not exceptionally great in any one of them. Regardless, Wesleyan and Amherst face each other this weekend, and the series will undoubtedly be neck-and-neck in each game. 
  4. Trinity (14-14, 7-5), Last Rankings: #6
    The Bantams have had killer series since we last looked at the team rankings. They have gotten back-to-back series wins over Bowdoin (#7) and Colby (#9)—which at the end of the day wasn’t a real struggle—and swept Bates (#10) last weekend, ensuring their spot in the playoffs. Trinity was swept by Tufts, but at the rate the Jumbos have picked themselves up this season, that’s not surprising. The pitching rotation also lacks depth, relying mainly on Anthony Egeln, Jr. (2.44 ERA) for high performance on the mound, but right now that hasn’t been a cause for too much concern. Trinity falls dead center in every area of the game, according to NESCAC standings, so I’m happy with Trinity’s ability to shut down every team in the East except Tufts. Right now Trinity is 7-5 in the conference, and Bowdoin and Colby are next at 3-6. That says a lot about the landscape in the East. The Bantams are also back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, displacing Bates, who has gone the last two seasons.
  5. Hamilton (14-12, 3-6), Last Rankings: #4
    The Continentals currently have the worst record in the West, so why are they still stacked relatively high up in the rankings? I swear I’m not being biased in saying that Hamilton possesses extremely talented players with lots of potential, especially when it comes to performance at the plate. Their slash line of .343/.432/.481 put them second in the conference for hitting, and juniors Ryan Wolfsberg ’17, Kenny Collins ’17 and Brett Mele ’17 would be hitting on any team in the league. Yet, dropping two games a piece to Middlebury and Wesleyan proves a fact that cannot be ignored: Hamilton is consistently unreliable in the field, dropping balls and making terrible throws that add up to inexcusable big innings. Accordingly, they have the worst FPCT in the league at .926 with 588 putouts and a whopping 68 errors. Against the Panthers, Hamilton had eight errors in Game 1, three in Game 2, and two in Game 3. Thankfully, the Continentals improved throughout the weekend, but that’s 13 errors in one weekend—Middlebury had only two. Then last weekend against the Cardinals, Hamilton had 10 errors in total, seven of which contributed (or directly led to) their 15-6 loss in Game 3. Wesleyan, in comparison, had three errors.Compounding the problem is a shallow bullpen that doesn’t rack up a lot of strikeouts. Balls in play plus shaky defense equals unearned runs. The Continentals have a ton to offer, but they’ll never be truly great unless they clean up on defense.
  6. Middlebury (9-16, 6-6), Last Rankings: #7
    Week after week, the Panthers are improving rather than shrinking back into the losing team the West has grown accustomed to. They stand right in the middle of all NESCAC team stats when they used to come dead last, or close to it, in previous seasons. We’ve already said that the older players, especially seniors John Luke ’16 and Joe MacDonald ’16, have clearly developed during the off-season and that fresh rookies like Colby Morris ’19 have added more depth to the team, but it’s likely that watching their program progress into a winning program has motivated the players to put in that extra push of effort, producing even more wins. Should Wesleyan fail to win their series against Amherst, the Panthers could potentially knock them out of that second-place slot guaranteeing a run in the NESCAC playoffs. As an eternal lover of the underdog, I’m honestly excited just thinking about it.
  7. Bowdoin (19-10, 3-6), Last Rankings: #8 
    Honestly, Bowdoin has moved up in rankings because other teams needed to go down in them. That’s probably something to be thankful for, based on the number of rookies the Polar Bears have on the roster. Bowdoin has already been eliminated from the playoffs, but their matchup with Tufts this weekend provides an opportunity to make a statement. It sounds cliche to say Bowdoin is a young team right now and coming out low in rankings is just a part of their growing phase, but, to an extent, it’s sort of the only way you can look at the team right now. No Bowdoin player has made it into the top-50 in batting average, and the team’s batting average of .265 is scary. However, I really like Bowdoin’s ERA of 3.80. That shows some potential, or at least a good starting point, for next season. At this point, Bowdoin needs to think about the future rather than salvaging the rest of their now stagnant season. 
  8. Williams (10-17, 4-5), Last Rankings: #9
    The Ephs managed to win two games in their series against Wesleyan, which definitely must be acknowledged in some way. I’m pretty dumbfounded by the stats of the games, but nevertheless, those two pretty wins pushed the Ephs ahead of Hamilton in the West’s standings, making this certainly an odd year for the division. Still, statistically Williams hasn’t stacked up well this year. The Ephs have an ERA of 6.94 and have allowed 120 walks, both league worsts. They have a FPCT of .945, which ranks seventh in the league. They swing it at a solid .299/.391/.376 clip, but overall, the team is not up to the caliber of the rest of the division. But, baseball is a crazy game, and a sweep for the Ephs this weekend puts them in the mix for the playoffs.
  9. Colby (10-18, 2-6), Last Rankings: #10
    At least the Mules are consistent, right? Colby has a handful of extremely talented players like Soren Hanson ’16 and Tommy Forese ’16, but there’s only so much you can expect them to do for a continually struggling team. Bates’ miserable losses to Trinity pushed Colby ahead of the Bobcats in the East, but the Mules have zero chances of getting to the playoffs anytime in the near future. They remain too far down the standings in all categories to show tremendous growth—they are seventh in average and ninth in ERA and FPCT—and with their two most talented players graduating, it’s likely next year will be a struggle for the Mules. Hopefully Colby really invests in the youth in the offseason in order to get a head start on next year’s season, when there will be really, really big shoes to fill.
  10. Bates (10-16, 2-6), Last Rankings: #5
    In just two weeks, the Bobcats have severely dropped in our power rankings. They started off the season quite well: they won their doubleheader against Bowdoin; Connor Speed ’18 was awarded NESCAC Pitcher of the Week. Everything just fall apart afterwards. Trinity dominated their series, winning all three of the weekend’s games. In all fairness, two games had a one run differential, and one game went into extra innings, so Bates wasn’t entirely out of control there. However, those three losses were the straw that broke the camel’s back, or in this case, the Bobcats’ back. Bates is now last in the East after losing six conference games. The team’s pitching is the best thing it has going right now, as Bates has an ERA of 4.42 thanks to guys like Speed. Thankfully, there’s plenty of time for the youth on the team to develop the program, but this year’s essentially over for the team as a whole.

Conference games this weekend will make or break teams’ chances of playing in the NESCAC playoffs this year. Here are this week’s match ups:

Colby vs. Bates—Friday at 3:00 pm; Saturday at noon, 2:30 pm
Tufts vs Bowdoin—Friday at 3:0o pm; Saturday at noon, 2:30 pm
Tufts vs BatesSunday at 1:00 pm
Wesleyan vs Amherst—Friday at 4:00 pm; Saturday at 1:00 pm, 3:30 pm
Hamilton vs Williams—Friday at 4:00 pm; Saturday at noon, 2:30 pm
Trinity vs. Middlebury—Saturday at noon, 2:30 pm (non-divisional)

Things Change, but People Stay the Same: Power Rankings 4/13

Get on your horse, Brandon Lopez! (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Get on your horse, Brandon Lopez! (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

After a little bit of a break from Power Rankings while we waited for things to sort themselves out so we’d look less stupid, the most powerful of NESCAC Power Rankings are back. We haven’t had a rankings since the NESCAC conference season began, so now is a good chance to reorder the teams as the next few weekends are the meat of the NESCAC schedule.

1. Wesleyan (15-4, 2-1), Last Rankings: #2

Kaitlin McCabe ranked Wesleyan second last time, and you might be questioning whether the Cardinals have done enough to make them worthy of moving up. Well, know that it’s close between the top teams. I put Wesleyan tops because I think they have the highest ceiling, even with everything they lost last year. They are 9-1 in their last 10 games, and after dropping their conference opener to Middlebury, they responded with two convincing wins in the doubleheader Saturday. Nick Miceli ’17 got his league-leading fifth win this weekend, and he has a miniscule 1.49 ERA to boot. For a guy that pitched just 13 innings last year, those are some real solid numbers. Wesleyan is not as good as a year ago, but they have done a sensational job to this point and seem to be getting better each week.

2. Amherst (14-4, 4-2), Last Rankings: #1

I drop Amherst a spot because of their inability to sweep Hamilton or Williams in their first two weekend series. They haven’t lost a combined two games to those two teams in a season since 2010. I now am not 100 percent confident that they make the playoffs because Wesleyan still looms on the schedule. If Amherst gets swept in that series, the potential is there for someone (dare we say Middlebury!) to steal that second spot. Offensively Amherst is their typical selves, being among the best in the league at both hitting for power and stealing bases. The defense has been really bad in their conference games though with a fielding percentage of .911. It hasn’t really cost them big yet, but it makes me nervous.

3. Tufts (12-4, 2-0), Last Rankings: #4

The Jumbos haven’t done that much to move a spot, but Bowdoin has fallen off in conference so Tufts is the clear choice here. I don’t want to disparage Tufts; they were on a eight-game winning streak after all until losing to Roger Williams last night. Their team batting average is a really bad .282, but that is all part of their team philosophy. Their OBP is a more robust .418, the third best number in the league. Andrew David ’16 has proven beyond a doubt that he is a top of the line ace, and Speros Varinos ’18 isn’t far behind. The jury is still out on R.J Hall ’19, owner of a 1.09 ERA, and Tim Superko ’17 had his best start of the season last week. The rotation is not as deep as it has been in years past, and that leaves them somewhat vulnerable.

4. Hamilton (11-7, 1-2), Last Rankings: 5

I know I mentioned Middlebury when talking about Amherst’s potential to miss the playoffs, but Hamilton to me is the third-best team in the West right now. The problem for them is that they already lost two of three to Amherst, and the final game of that series was a heartbreaking loss in extra innings. That lineup really is not a joke. Five of their every game starters have an OBP better than .400, and guys like Brett Mele ’17 and Kenny Collins ’17 are still getting on-base at a rate better than 50 percent. The Continentals can get back on track for making an upset run if they sweep the Panthers. Anything less than that and they will need a lot of things to go right for them to have a good chance.

5. Bates (9-12, 2-3), Last Rankings: #7

I put Bates here above Trinity because I have more respect for the Bobcats track record over the past few years. I also have to give credit for them sweeping the doubleheader against Bowdoin on Saturday after the Bobcats came completely unraveled in a 13-1 loss on Friday. Connor Speed ’18 took home NESCAC Pitcher of the Week honors because of his six shutout innings as Bowdoin could not figure out the funky motion of the right-hander. There is no doubt that Bates got lucky in the second game of the doubleheader when Bowdoin had five errors that led to all nine runs being unearned in the 9-5 game. Their series against Trinity next weekend looms large.

6. Trinity (9-11, 4-2), Last Rankings: #6

Trinity, long a NESCAC powerhouse, is back, baby! No, the Bantams, a team that used to strike fear into teams because of their slugging ability, is certainly not anywhere close to the team they were years ago. They have gotten back-to-back series wins over Bowdoin and Colby to put themselves in position to make the playoffs, but they have to prove they can beat Bates or Tufts before I have full faith in them. I loved how Trinity looked in the first game on Saturday as Anthony Egeln ’18 went all seven innings and a Scott Cullinane ’16 hit a three run homer in the first that gave them a commanding lead early. That lineup can still be shut down by really good pitching, though.

7. Middlebury (6-11, 3-3), Last Week: #8

When do we start to believe in the Panthers? Not quite yet, especially because they are in the West and not the East division. That win over Wesleyan which I sort of glossed over when talking about the Cardinals was an impressive one. Middlebury played Wesleyan close in some games last year so it isn’t a total surprise. Wesleyan didn’t play terribly; the Panthers simply came ready to play. They did get some lucky breaks, though. At one point an errant back pick attempt careened off the noggin of 2B Jake Turtel ’18 and went out of play, immediately allowing two runs to score, and Turtel later scored on a bloopy double. Friend of the program Colby Morris ’19 pitched great to get the win, and the offense put up two different crooked numbers against Ethan Rode ’17. The Panthers need to win just one more conference game to match their wins in ALL games a season ago.

8. Bowdoin (12-8, 2-4), Last Week: #3

No team has seen their fortunes fall more than Bowdoin’s in the past two weeks as the Polar Bears have not kept up their strong play. We warned about that possibility given how much youth they have. Ben Osterholtz ’19, who had been sensational in his first few starts, finally got roughed up against Bates. The real problem, though, is the lineup is hitting worse and worse. Nobody on the team ranks in the top-25 for either BA or OBP, and as a group they are hitting below the Mendoza line in conference games. That production is not going to be enough for Bowdoin to make a late push to make the playoffs.

9. Williams (6-13, 2-4), Last Ranking: #10

The Ephs kept their slim playoff hopes alive by taking the last game of their series against Amherst because of two runs in the 9th inning. The Amherst starting pitchers shut down Williams in every game, and when their offense struggles, things are extremely difficult for them. Their run differential is much better than that of a 6-13 team, but those types of things are only so helpful at this point in the year. One does have to keep in mind that this is a relatively young team with the every pitcher of importance slated to return next season. Things are frustrating right now for Ephs fans, considering the strength of so many other programs at Williams, but they should be better soon.

10. Colby (5-13, 1-2), Last Ranking: #9

It is impressive that every team in the NESCAC already has a win in conference even though many teams have only played one series. The Mules actually missed a golden opportunity to win the series against Trinity. Tom Forese ’16 outdueled Jed Robinson ’16 in the first game of the series, but ace Soren Hanson ’16 got knocked around in the first game of the doubleheader in what was their best chance to win. If Forese can pitch that well in other weekends then the Mules have the makings of a very dangerous team. I still don’t think they have enough talent on the roster to make any serious noise, but you certainly can’t sleep on them in any given game.

April Showers Bring…Snow?: Stock Report 4/6

This is not a NESCAC baseball field, but it is what some fields looked like because of the weather.
This is not a NESCAC baseball field, but it is what some fields looked like because of the weather.

Nothing says “baseball” like six inches of snow, right? Believe it or not, it is spring in the NESCAC. Though we may be trudging through snow and having games canceled because of “inclement weather” (i.e. sudden blizzard in April?!?!), we will be able to see the field by this weekend, and there will be games played on them. The weather can only deprive us of NESCAC baseball (and MLB Opening Day games) for so long.

Braving mercurial weather conditions, the teams played their first of many NESCAC Division series Friday and Saturday (The games between Wesleyan and Colby do not count towards their conference record). While most NESCACs were delaying or postponing weekend matchups, Williams and Middlebury continued to soak up the gorgeous Arizona sun in their first NESCAC West series but have returned to NESCAC turf for the remainder of the season.

STOCK UP

Guys making—or remaking—history

Williams’ pitcher Luke Rodino ’17 and Hamilton’s 1B Andrew Haser ’17 did more than make a good first impression in their NESCAC openers.

Rodino threw a complete-game eight-hitter without walking a single batter. Alone, the accomplishment is pretty nice, but if you consider that no other Eph pitcher has done that in 37 games (i.e. 369 days ago), it’s amazing. As a result, Williams defeated rival Middlebury 8-2, improving their record to 5-8 overall and 1-0 in the NESCAC West. And here’s a fun fact for you: the last time Williams did not walk any batters was also thanks to Rodino’s arm.

If neither his NESCAC Player of the Week nod nor his clutch walk-off have sufficiently marked him as a threat at the plate, Andrew Haser’s ’17 school-record three home runs for Hamilton on Friday will certainly do the trick. The hotshot hit his home runs in consecutive innings against the team from Central Massachusetts; he’s racked up five so far this season, just two short of the program’s single-season mark, and 10 in his collegiate career (three away from yet another school record). At this rate, the junior will have no problem shattering those records before he graduates, let alone this year. I guess you could say he’s having a pretty good start to the season.

The underdogs-of-the-underdogs

It’s time to stop thinking about Middlebury as the team that comes in last in NESCAC standings each season and to start applauding their achievements as they come. The Panthers beat Williams in the final two games of a three-game NESCAC West series this weekend, first by virtue of a 2-1 crazy walk-off and then by a 11-4 tally in Saturday’s nightcap. The team has demonstrated noticeable improvement across the board. John Luke ’16 is Middlebury’s comeback kid: he seems to be making up for three years of mediocre hitting, as he now leads the team and most players in the NESCAC with his .432/.462/.595 slashline. Meanwhile, Jake Turtel ’18 has developed his skills all around, earning the starting 2B position after not playing much at all last season and racking up a .325/.372/.375 combination at bat. Former 2B Brendan Donohue ’18 has proven himself to be quite a wild card, moving around the diamond to LF and even to pitcher and maintaining his hitting reliability with a .320/.393/.400 slashline. Middlebury only committed two errors in three games (compared to Williams’ seven), and that solid command of the field is no doubt a result of diligent team growth.

Middlebury should really be excited by their arsenal of talented rookies. With speed and a strong arm, Sam Graf ’19 is an asset to the outfield with  only one error in 12 games, while Spencer Tonies ’19 is making a big impact at shortstop (.441/.474/.559). Behind the plate, Phil Bernstein ’19 has been a great defensive force in the weekend’s games. Their progress may not mean that much right now, but in the long run, investment in the younger players will result in a more competitive team. No, the Panthers aren’t going to take the NESCAC West anytime soon, but if they keep up the good work, they may break free from their cycle of disappointment. Here’s looking at you, kids.

P Cole Dreyfuss ’16 (HAM)

Taking the mound after Hamilton’s 18-8 defeat against Amherst, Cole Dreyfuss ’16 ruled all seven innings of Saturday’s Game One.  His imposing two-hitter force not only surprised Amherst but also made them visibly nervous. The senior captain held Amherst hitless for one stretch of 5.2 innings. With this victory, Dreyfuss earned his team-leading third win of the season, which raises his career record to 12-8 (third place on the team’s career wins list).

Although Amherst came out on top in the weekend’s series, winning two of the three games—albeit that the last one stretched into extra innings—Hamilton definitely showed both the flustered Jeffs and the entire NESCAC that the Continentals won’t be beaten without a hard fight. And most of that tenacity this weekend can be credited to Dreyfuss’s fantastic pitching.

STOCK DOWN

Bowdoin’s pitching

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Polar Bears’ early success was due to either hidden talent or mediocre competition, and right now, it’s looking like the latter. There’s no denying that Ben Osterholtz ’19 (0.66 ERA), Connor Rooney (1.13 ERA), and Harry Ridge (2.18 ERA) are good pitchers; Michael Staes ’16 (3.71 ERA) isn’t throwing poorly either. But as a team Bowdoin has only managed to secure a 4.28 ERA and a concerning 5.16 K/G, and when it comes to the NESCAC, that’s just ok. The power we saw—or thought we saw—during spring training has simmered out: it was all relative to the competition the Polar Bears’ faced rather than the competition they would ultimately see in conference games. Luckily, the team has a solid group of pitchers to continually develop over the season.

Colby

No one expects a bottom team to suddenly play a super competitive game against reigning champions, but the Mules had nothing in their favor during their brutal 21-1 loss to Wesleyan on Saturday.

The Mules are hardly poor hitters; with a .312 AVG, they are relatively average in the NESCAC and actually have fewer strikeouts than any other team. At the end of the day, the team just had the misfortune of going up against Peter Rantz ’16 and Nick Miceli ’17, so their failings at the plate are understandable. Determining the efficacy of their defense is more nuanced. In the first game of the DH, Colby had three errors compared to Wesleyan’s zero; in the second, the Mules had six errors compared to the Cardinals’ one. Considering that their .956 FPCT is identical to Amherst’s, it’s hard to say that sloppy defense is the sole culprit for the Mules poor start. Regardless, allowing 21 runs in nine innings—11 in one inning alone—isn’t the work of a stable squad.

Why did Colby give up so many hits? Last weeks’ Pitcher of the Week Soren Hanson ’16 put in a solid 6.1 innings in Game One, holding the Cardinals to just three runs. However, Game Two was basically a pitcher party to which seven different guys showed up. Right now, the team has a collective 9.35 ERA, and when you’re going down the roster for teammates to pitch in your game, you’re not looking at a drastic improvement. Put that ERA up against the most dangerous hitters in the team, and you’ve got Game 2. And that’s just ugly. The Mules can unquestionably improve their work both at the plate and in the field, but their efforts won’t make up for poor pitching. Putting together a more reliable rotation behind Hanson—one that will get your through DH weekends—needs to be Colby’s focus right now.

Amherst’s music selection

You know something’s really bad it the NSN announcer is making fun of it. In this case, he was begging Amherst to turn off the music. Sir, I feel your pain.

My tastes may be limited to 90s rock, but I can say without hesitation that whoever made the playlist for the Amherst-Hamilton series was completely out of their mind. Why would you ever switch back and forth between bubble-gum country and EDM? Or better yet, why would you ever—EVER—play “Let It Go” from Frozen during a baseball game? What happened to good old-fashioned Jock Jams?

Amherst DJ, I have quite an expansive knowledge of said Jock Jams and appropriate pump-up music and would be happy to be of assistance to you. But seriously—what were you thinking?

STOCK WAY DOWN

Mother Nature

Amherst-Hamilton’s nightcap was delayed due to torrential rainfall. All of Sunday’s games were postponed due to inclement weather. And the last two days I’ve woken up to snowfall.

Get your act together, Nature. Spring is for baseball, not building snow forts.

Spring is Sort of Here: Power Rankings 3/25

Andrew Vandini '16 has helped Amherst get off to a fast start.
Andrew Vandini ’16 has helped Amherst get off to a fast start.

The NESCAC regular season finally starts next Friday after several weeks of spring training. Being that the majority of teams have yet to face a NESCAC opponent, the only taste we’ve had of the competition this season has been through non-conference face-offs. With opening weekend looming, it’s time for us to publish our current power rankings. Our opinions for each time are determined by statistics from last season and this year’s spring break. Check back early next week to see our predictions for how the teams will perform in the NESCAC standings this season.

  1. Amherst (8-1, 0-0)

Amherst continues to dominate both the diamond and the NESCAC standings. The mound has already received accolades for its strong start, with pitcher Jackson Volle ’17 being named the NESCAC Pitcher of the Week, and the team from Central Mass also has Riley Streit ’16 to thank for their success. Together, with ERAs of 0.64 and 1.69, Volle and Streit have carried a defense that has yet to disappoint. In the field, senior catcher/DH Connor Gunn ’16 and 1B/DH Dave Cunningham ’16 are pure dynamite, producing 56 and 51 putouts and FPCTs of 0.969 and 1.00. On the offense, a core force of Yanni Thanopoulos ’17, Anthony Spina ’17 and Ariel Kenney ’18 continue to put power behind the bat, helping the team hit a .350 AVG in nine games. For now, Amherst looks like a powerhouse without any loose screws, but how much they can sustain this into the season still needs to be determined.

Amherst hosts Hamilton next weekend in their first NESCAC matchup of the season.

  1. Wesleyan (10-3, 0-0)

Placing in second might come as a shock for the Cardinals, who’ve dominated the NESCAC for two years running. Indeed, the Cardinals are using any doubt as personal motivation. Now, Wesleyan isn’t struggling to deliver, per say, but they certainly need to sharpen up on the mound and in the field if they want to begin to resemble the championship-winning team they have been in the last two seasons. After 13 games, the Cardinals hold a relatively horrific ERA of 6.14, compared to last season’s final of 2.70. This places them near the bottom of current NESCAC standings. While Nick Miceli ’17 has held his own on the bump, boasting a 1.71 ERA with 19 strike outs, Peter Rantz ’16 is showing a bit more inconsistency. In yesterday’s game against the Coast Guard, he allowed 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, and three walks in 4.2 innings. Hopefully Rantz isn’t getting anxious with the added responsibility of being the Cardinals ace.  Wesleyan needs to provide their pitchers with confidence and security in the field in order to properly support pitchers’ efforts. Miceli, Matt Jeye ’18 and O’Sullivan are team standouts but cannot raise the entire defense out of its average-ranking playing.

Wesleyan is just a little rough the edges as the team whips pitchers into champion shape, but once they figure that out, they will be even more threatening to the opposition. After all, Wesleyan still stands out as the biggest hitters in the NESCAC. Lead by a dangerous trio of Miceli, Eric Jones ’16, and Guy Davidson ’16, the Cardinals hold a fearsome .373 AVG with 32 doubles, 14 triples, six homeruns, and 109 RBIs.

  1. Bowdoin (8-3, 0-0)

The Polar Bears have definitely surprised us with their success so far—and are obviously playing far more competitively than their opponents in the East Division. Their 14-8 loss to Hamilton revealed that there remains weakness in the pitching rotation. Brandon Lopez ’19 threw the most innings with 2.2, in which he allowed 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, and only struck out two batters.  Meanwhile, Ben Osterholtz ’19 and Michael Staes ’16 have stood out early, with a combined 1.29 ERA (helping the team reach 3.71 ERA), but until we see more of their pitching, it’s difficult to determine if Bowdoin’s success as of late is due to true Polar Bear power or just mediocre competition. The Polar Bears travel to Hartford, Conn. next weekend to face Trinity.

  1. Tufts (5-3, 0-0)

The Jumbos had a frustrating start to the season:  their initial losses happened not because the team isn’t capable but because they just weren’t producing like we know they can.  The team has improved, but they have yet to demonstrate the batting power we saw last season behind stars like Tommy O’Hara ’18. Right now, the team’s fielding and pitching stats are pretty average, consistently placing them right in the middle of NESCAC standings. In eight games, the team has averaged .285 at the plate, mainly due to the tremendous effort of Harry Brown ’17, Matt Moser ’16, and Cody McCallum ’16, who have consistently performed admirably up at bat with averages of .450, .353, and .324. However, the Jumbos future is getting brighter: though O’Hara had a slow start to his sophomore season, he has drastically improved his batting edge in Tufts’ last two games, bringing his batting average up to .303. Clearly, the Jumbos are just taking some time to get back their stride. They have until next Saturday, their first NESCAC competition against Bates, to tighten up their loose ends.

  1. Hamilton (9-5, 0-0)

While Hamilton lost to very beatable squads during its two week stretch in Florida, it’s clear that the Continentals have concrete chemistry, especially amongst the junior class. The team’s 14-8 victory against Bowdoin was a big confidence booster too.  The Continentals definitely can brag about their performance at bat: they have a teamwide .370 AVG. Hamilton has produced 28 doubles, five triples, three homeruns, 78 RBIs and a beautiful  .457 OBP, largely thanks to juniors Ryan Wolfsberg ’17, Brett Mele ’17, Kenny Collins ’17, and Andrew Haser ’17. The mound is also dominated by underclassmen. Max Jones ’19 (1.59 ERA), Dan DePaoli ’18 (2.60 ERA) and Spencer Vogelbach ’18 (3.00 ERA) comprise a growing force on the mound, amassing to a team ERA of 3.71. The trio, in addition to veteran Cole Dreyfuss ’16 (5.50 ERA), creates a dependable rotation, but anything beyond that remains a mystery that Hamilton needs to solve quickly.

Some early experimentation in position assignments (i.e. Haser and Andrew Watson’19 on the mound) suggests that the team has needed to make up for unanticipated empty holes in the roster, but the problem is only temporary. CF Chris Collins ’17, 3B Dean Rosenberg ’18 and Finlay O’Hara ’17 have missed several games due to minor injuries, but they’ll be fresh and prepared for Hamilton’s games against Amherst next weekend. The return of Collins and Rosenberg will especially add more power to Hamilton’s already impressive batting lineup.

  1. Trinity (5-6, 0-0)

Throughout spring training, Trinity has been a team that hasn’t played consistently in games: essentially the Bantams win and lose back and forth, and typically by a substantial number of runs. Overall, the team is equally average in all areas. What’s most surprising, however, is the rough start of Bantam veteran pitcher Jed Robinson ’16. After two starts, Robinson holds a 5.84 ERA, and the other pitchers with the same number of starts – namely Anthony Elgein, Jr. ’18, McLane Hill ’18 and Nicholas Fusco ’18 – aren’t doing much better with ERAs of 3.97, 5.87 and 10.38. The good news is Fusco and Robinson have the track record to think they will rebound. While rookie Erik Mohl ’19 showed promise against Plattsburgh St., pitching six scoreless innings, he also racked up a 2:4 K:BB ratio over 7.1 IP. The Bantams still haven’t gotten things going in the way they are capable of.

  1. Bates (5-7, 0-0)

With their current 0.417 win percentage, the Bobcats are a shadow of the team that made it to the playoffs last season. You’d be hard pressed to find a real strength in the team at this point, but it is clear that Bates desperately needs to improve at bat. Their hitting is weak with a .258 BA, and when you’re losing most of your games to average competition by three or fewer runs, that is a huge problem. Brendan Fox ’17 (.457 BA) is the strongest at the plate with four doubles, one triple, one homerun, 12 RBIs, and five walks. However, against NESCAC opposition, the Bobcats need others to step up.

  1. Middlebury (1-1, 0-0)

The Panthers are at a disadvantage when it comes to accurately ranking teams, as they’ve only played two games so far. After coming in dead last in the conference last year with a 4-24 record, Middlebury needs improvement in a host of areas. Nevertheless, in their first two outings, they demonstrated stability and potential for growth, even defeating Bates in the second game of their doubleheader. The currently success of the pitching rotation comes from freshmen, which is somewhat concerning in a conference with much more experienced pitchers. Colby Morris ’19 holds a 3.00 ERA from his one start. The bullpen, meanwhile, which includes yet another rookie Conor Himstead ’19, has produced five scoreless innings, showing some promise for future matchups. Middlebury gets a nod in our rankings because of room for correction, but realistically, their rank is more due to the current deficiencies of other teams.

  1. Colby (2-8, 0-0)

Right now, Colby’s greatest success has been their average batting average (.317 BA). Seniors Dan Csaplar ’16 and Tyler Starks ’17 lead the pack with averages of .444 and .375, and while they don’t get much distance for their hits, they have been reliable starters. However, the Mules can’t rely on decent batting to make up for sub-par fielding and pitching if they want to win conference games. On the bump, Colby needs to immediately improve its 10.31 ERA if they want to improve in rankings. Dan Schoenfeld ’18 and Robert Donohue ’17 are the steadiest of pitchers, and their ERAs are 4.76 and 9.00. The Mules have had more with Tommy Forese ’16 and Soren Hanson ’16, but they need more than those two. Colby faces Wesleyan next weekend in a non-conference series, and perhaps a week of intense focus and the home field advantage will amount to some good competition.

  1. Williams (1-5, 0-0)

The Ephs have stumbled out of the gates. In their six games, Williams was only able to finish their first of the season with a victory. At the end of the day, the team has everything working against them. On the mound, the Ephs clearly need a lot of work: the team bears a pretty dreadful 12.63 ERA, despite the 1.50 ERA held by Luke Rodino ’17. Yet, the below-average pitchers are assisted by disappointing fielders with a 0.931 FPCT.  Hitting is where the Ephs show the greatest strength right now, with a decent 0.345 AVG. Ironically, Williams possesses of two of the best hitters in the conference right now, Kellen Hatheway ’19 (.520) and Jack Roberts ’17 (.500). While power at the plate is a good start for the Ephs, they’ll be eaten alive by the entire NESCAC unless they pull themselves together defensively. The team has talent, and I don’t think they will stay in the cellar, but they have to find answers on the mound.

 

 

Lions and Tigers and Polar Bears: Stock Report 3/22

Sean Mullaney '17 and the Polar Bears are the big early season surprise. Bowdoin is 7-0. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Sean Mullaney ’17 and the Polar Bears are the big early season surprise. Bowdoin is 7-0. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

While you’ve been at home crying over your destroyed March Madness brackets, NESCAC baseball teams have swarmed to warmer climates to start their seasons. Players have already been hard at work with practices and games for weeks – and a month, if you’re Bates -, but it’s these crucial games during break in which coaches and teams determine starting lineups for many home openers set for this coming weekend. Teams may just be trying to find the right lineups, but the stats and results can’t hide from the official record.

While the makeup of Wesleyan’s roster may be different than in previous seasons, its potential for success has hardly diminished. Nevertheless, the Cardinals continue to excel thanks to veteran players like OF Jordan Farber ’16, P Peter Rantz ’16, P/C/2B Nick Miceli ’17, and SS Guy Davidson ’16. Davidson’s spring break run has clinched his position as one of the best hitters in the NESCAC: during the two-week period, he hit .444/.500/.685 as he went 24-for-54, driving in 19 runs and scoring 16 times.

Like the Cardinals, Amherst has continued to dominate the diamond, despite also losing the team’s star, current-MLB player Mike Odenwaelder ’16. Yet, Amherst is currently boasting an 8-1 record and shows no signs of slowing down going forward into the season, especially with the starting outfield of Yanni Thanopoulos ’17, Anthony Spina ’17 and Ariel Kenney ’18 hitting an outrageous .371 through nine games. Kenney himself has gone 16-for-35 and currently leads the team in batting average (.457), on-base percentage (.500), and slugging percentage (.657). Pitcher Jackson Volle ’17, who on Monday was named the NESCAC Pitcher of the Week, opened the season strong, claiming two wins in his first two starts to help Amherst secure their exceptional 8-1 overall record. Volle wrapped up spring break with a tidy 0.64 ERA.

Perhaps the greatest surprise in the early going has been Bowdoin’s brilliant winning streak. They’ve opened the season 7-0 on the strength of some great pitching to the tune of a 2.68 team ERA through the first five games (yesterday’s stats vs. Greenville were not available at the time of this posting).

Now for the first stock report of the what is going to be a very interesting season.

Stock Up

  1. P/C Nick Miceli ’17 (Wesleyan)

Throughout the Cardinals’ first 12 games, Miceli has proven that on the field, he’s a man for all seasons: already he’s stood out in the conference for stellar pitching, hitting and fielding. He’s the ultimate NESCAC Triple Threat.

The junior, having already thrown in five games, is ranked in second in the conference with a 16.2 IP, 8.54 K/G and ERA of 2.16. Miceli’s strength on the mound was clear in Wesleyan’s second game against Bethany Lutheran College on March 7. Bethany Lutheran scored six runs in the first two innings, thanks in large part to some shoddy defense, giving them a generous 6-2 lead heading into the third. The two teams were almost even in hits, with Bethany Lutheran only outhitting Wesleyan by one. During innings 3-6 Miceli was nearly untouchable, allowing four hits but no runs with no walks and five strikeouts. He then impressed in relief on March 11 against Marian University, allowing one run on three hits with four strikeouts in five innings. But that’s not all: Miceli boasts a .474/.500/.632 line in 38 at bats while seeing time mostly at second but also catcher and DH.

In short, Miceli is good. Really good.

  1. Fresh Pitching Faces

Around the NESCAC plenty of youngsters have shown some great potential on the mound in the early going.

After graduating Elias and Cooney and losing Pittore, Wesleyan hasn’t missed a beat on the mound. Miceli has looked good throwing the ball, and Peter Rantz has picked right back up where he left off, but Mike McCaffrey ’19 has shown some potential, too. His first outing was disastrous, to say the least, but so was everything else for the Cardinals in their season-opening 29-14 rout at the hands of Hamline. McCaffrey improved in his second outing, and then shined in his third appearance, a complete game victory over Carleton when he allowed four hits and one walk while striking out 10.

Hamilton’s Spencer Vogelbach ’18 first made a name for himself as a first-year at the beginning of last season. In the Continental’s spring break game against Alfred State, his 11 strikeouts were the most by a Hamilton baseball pitcher in a single game in five years — an accomplishment that should not and cannot be ignored. Vogelbach pitched in three of Hamilton’s seven wins last week, striking out 11 batters and racking up a 14.0 IP with just one walk. The rookie was sixth in the NESCAC with a 2.25 ERA and a 4-1 record last season. Clearly, his rookie season was just a preview of what is to come for Hamilton’s pitching rotation. Dan DePaoli ’18 has also impressed on the bump; he went 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts that covered 11 innings. In Hamilton’s 7-1 win at Bard on March 12, DePaoli only allowed one unearned run on two hits in six innings of work. Then, in Friday’s 17-6 victory against Lawrence, he gave up three runs on four hits, struck out six and didn’t walk a batter in five innings. He also handled four chances in the field without an error.

Two freshmen started on the bump for Middlebury in their season-opening doubleheader against Bates. Colby Morris ’19 spun a complete game gem but was let down by his offense in a 2-1 loss. In the second of the twinbill, Jack Bunting ’19 was dominant through three innings before a pair of mistakes resulted in a three-run inning and one long left center field homer that was aided by a windy day that saw three balls leave the yard. Bunting finished with 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 K and 1 BB. In relief three members of the formerly beleaguered Middlebury staff, including newbie Conor Himstead ’19, combined for five scoreless innings.

  1. Walk Off Victories

It’s hard to tell what the Continentals love more: actually winning with a walk off or showing off the swagger of the moment on social media (as a loyal Continental, I’m personally a fan of both, but I confess I’m biased).

On March 14, the walk-off homerun of OF Kenny Collins ’17 won Hamilton’s first game against Minnesota-Morris by a narrow margin, 3-2. You have to love Collins’ elaborate helmet toss, shown towards the end of the video shared on Hamilton Baseball’s Twitter. I’m pretty sure hurling your helmet into the air is frowned upon by NCAA regulations, but in this situation, how could you not?

Andrew Haser ’17, the NESCAC Player of the Week, built off of Collins’ momentum ending Hamilton’s first game against Allegheny. With bases loaded in the seventh inning, Haser laced a homerun that freed the Continentals from a tied score (and this comes just two days after his grand slam contributed to Hamilton’s 17-6 victory against Lawrence). Haser currently leads the Continentals with 10 runs, seven extra-base hits, 13 RBIs, five doubles and a .706 slugging percentage. The junior is hitting .382 (13-for-34) and has only made one error in 54 chances at shortstop.

The Continentals cheered that they couldn’t believe they managed to escape defeat twice this early into the season? Neither could we.

It’s not just Hamilton walking off in style these days, though. In the second game of the doubleheader between Middlebury and Bates on Saturday, both teams threatened to score in extras of the originally seven-inning ball game. It was all ended with one swing though, when rightfielder Sam Graf ’19 notched his first career hit by smacking a long no-doubter to left field. The Panthers did a solid job of celebrating in their own right.

  1. Bowdoin: 7-0

Starting pitcher Henry Van Zant ’15 was unquestionably Bowdoin’s pride and glory last season, tying the program’s single-season record for wins by going 7-1, including a 5-0 mark in conference games. The stats don’t lie: he was the primary reason Bowdoin kept swimming throughout the season, even if he alone couldn’t launch the Polar Bears into the playoffs. Without him, Bowdoin has to redesign its entire pitching structure, to find a way to be victorious without their star.

In spite of pre-season doubts, Bowdoin really has come out on top, winning all seven of their games so far. And it’s worth noting that only two wins were by a narrow margin — in five of the Polar Bears’ wins to date, they have defeated their opponents by five or more runs.

Seniors Harry Ridge ’16 and Michael Staes ’16 impressed on the mound in Bowdoin’s sweep of Utica on March 15, pitching 5.2 and 7.0 innings, respectively. Ridge earned Bowdoin’s win on the mound while allowing just six hits and two earned runs. He struck out eight with only one walk. Staes turned in a complete seven inning performance in game two, allowing nine hits and only one run to earn the win. He struck out four Pioneers with no walks. Rookie Brandon Lopez ’19 earned his first collegiate win on the mound on March 17 against Dickinson, going six innings and allowing four hits and as many runs. Lopez struck out six and walked a pair.

Offensively, Chad Martin ’16 is clearly building upon his past success at bat. His .311 AVG last season placed him in the middle of NESCAC ranks, but he shows potential to outperform himself in the games ahead. Peter Cimini ’16 added ferocity to the Polar Bears’ deep offense, batting .400 with a .733 slugging percentage through the first five contests, collecting three extra base hits and six RBIs.

Stock Down

  1. Tufts’ 3B Tommy O’Hara ’18

Last spring training, rookie O’Hara was the wiz kid on the Jumbos, developing a .564 OBP in 42 at-bats with six walks during spring break. Throughout the season, the freshman infielder led the team’s offense with a .405 ABG, .518 OBP and .603 SLG. And let’s not forget that he also hit a team-high 14 doubles while registering four home runs, 42 runs scored and 42 RBIs.

The Jumbos may have seen only five games at this point, but their 2-3 record and poor showing at the plate are cause for concern. In his first 16 at bats, O’Hara has amassed a .188/.435/.188 line. That OBP is nice, and is carried by six walks, but he also has seven strikeouts already. O’Hara struck out 25 times all of last season for a 14.9% K rate. Right now he’s walking back to the dugout 30.4% of the time. It’s very early, still, but let’s hope the sophomore isn’t putting too much pressure on himself.

2. Trinity Pitching 

The Bantams are 4-6 to open the year, but it’s pretty obvious that the biggest hurdle they will have to climb this season is replacing SP Sean Meekins ’15, he of the 2.01 ERA a year ago. The experienced and usually reliable Jed Robinson ’16 has gotten knocked around in two starts to the tune of a 5.84 ERA, and the other pitchers with two starts already – Anthony Elgein, Jr. ’18, McLane Hill ’18 and Nicholas Fusco ’18 – have ERAs of 3.97, 5.87 and a ghastly 10.38. The bright spot for the rotation so far has been newbie Erik Mohl ’19, who shut down Plattsburgh St. in his one start, throwing six scoreless innings, but his 2:4 K:BB ratio over 7.1 IP does not bode well for the future.

Speaking of Plattsburgh St., the 37 runs that Trinity posted on the Cardinals during their doubleheader last week may be bolstering the team’s .314/.410/.433 slash line, but I’d bet more heavily on the Bantams’ offense than pitching staff right now.

 

3. Live Stats

I have many bones to pick with the stability of live stats programs this week. It’s hard enough trying to follow a baseball game using play-by-play stats rather than a video stream. A live stats program that continues that constantly lags or repeatedly—or permanently—freezes is just torture.

Over the years, I have accumulated quite a list of grievances about these streams, and the Hamilton vs. Fredonia stats stream probably embodied them all. In the first game, the program showed the stats of Fredonia’s previous game for the first two innings; when it finally switched to the Hamilton game, it never changed the lineup and eventually froze in the bottom of the third inning. It never adjusted for the second game.

Perhaps this was the most extreme of cases, but so far, none of my experiences with live stats during spring training have been positive. Help a fan out, NESCAC! Get it together. I hope, and expect, that the ability to follow along with NESCAC games will improve once all teams return up north, as is usually the case.

4. Editors

On Thursday, March 17, Trinity lost to Rutgers-Camden 9-4 in Auburndale, FL. According to Trinity’s website, however, the team actually played against Rugers-Camden. Now, as a New Jersey native, I was extremely skeptical that “Rugers-Camden” actually existed—I even looked up “Rugers” just to confirm that it’s not a slang way of referring to Rutgers University that I’ve never heard of. But no, Trinity corrected itself in the line below the flawed headline, accurately spelling out “Rutgers-Camden.”

Yet, Rugers appeared again. And then again. And then the website switched back to Rutgers. Then back to Rugers.

I can’t condemn an occasional typo (we’ve all been there), but having exorbitant inconsistencies regarding a nationally known institution on an official college website is inexcusable. Note that the errors still remain throughout the game recap.

The Bantams may have won the game, but the college itself lost in quality coverage. Shame on you, Trinity!

I thought that was all, but then this little nugget was brought to our attention. As noted above, Middlebury walked off on Bates 4-3 in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday, March 21. According to the NESCAC Weekly Release, however, “Bates def. Middlebury, 4-3”. They have the records right in the Team Standings category, but we couldn’t help backing the Panthers on this one.

 

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.

Trinity

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.

The Champions Have Returned: Wesleyan Baseball Season Preview

2014 Record: 31-13 (10-2 NESCAC, First in NESCAC West, First in Little Three)

Postseason Outcomes: NESCAC Champions, Second at Moosic, Pa. Regional

Returning Starters: 11 (9 Position Players, 2 Starting Pitchers)

Projected Starting Lineup:

DH Robby Harbison ’17
2B Andrew Yin ’15
CF Donnie Cimino ’15
1B Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15
RF Jonathan Dennett ’15
SS Guy Davidson ’16
3B Ellis Schaefer ’17
LF Ben Hoynes ’15
C Nick Miceli ’17

LHP Nick Cooney ’15
RHP Gavin Pittore ’16

Offensive Overview:

After powering through the NESCAC last year and earning a school-record 31 wins, Wesleyan will return all nine players in their starting lineup this year. Expected to continue his dominance at the plate is Sam Goodwin-Boyd. Last season he tormented opposing pitchers while hitting .327 with five home runs and 44 RBIs. Goodwin-Boyd also runs well for a big guy (6’5″ 235 lbs). But the Cardinals’ offense does not stop there. Also returning to the lineup with high expectations are 2B Andrew Yin ’15, two-sport star Donnie Cimino, Jonathan Dennett and Robby Harbison, who all batted above .320 last season. Junior transfer Marco Baratta ’16 also hopes to make an impact on the lineup in 2015 by getting some at bats in the outfield.

Wesleyan captured the program's first ever NESCAC title in 2014. (Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information/NESCAC.com)
Wesleyan captured the program’s first ever NESCAC title in 2014. (Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information/NESCAC.com)

Defensive Overview:

In the field Wesleyan returns all nine positions players and will be anchored by three All-NESCAC performers in Cimino (CF), Goodwin-Boyd (1B) and Guy Davidson (SS). Cimino, Goodwin-Boyd and Davidson all look to improve on last season’s success after playing summer ball in the prestigious Cape Cod League and Futures League. Pitcher/catcher Nick Miceli played some competitive summer ball as well, plying his trade in the New England College Baseball League, and hopes to build on a strong freshman campaign. Returning all nine field players will be key for the chemistry of a squad that has championship hopes again.

Pitching Overview:

Nick Cooney '15 (left) and Gavin PIttore '16 (right) got a taste of the Cape League this summer on the heels of their 2014 success. (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Nick Cooney ’15 (left) and Gavin PIttore ’16 (right) got a taste of the Cape League this summer on the heels of their 2014 success. (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

On the mound Wesleyan will rely on returning starters Nick Cooney and Gavin Pittore ’16 to carry them through the campaign. Cooney was an All-NESCAC selection in 2014. Both Cooney and Pittore pitched in the Cape Cod League, bringing the total number of Wesleyan players in NCAA-sanctioned summer leagues to seven. The bullpen depth appears to be another strong point for he Cardinals in 2015 as well. Sam Elias ’15, another NECBL player, and Pete Rantz ’16 figure to make numerous relief appearances, though Rantz could compete for a starting job as he toed the rubber for seven starts last season. Elias and his devastating splitter accounted for a 9.27 K/9 ratio over 43.2 IP in which he earned four saves to lead the team. His 1.03 BB/9 rate was among the league’s best as well.

Story Lines to Watch

1. Can Wesleyan avoid the Championship hangover?

After last year’s historic season, the Cardinals will look to be even more dominant. The 2014 NESCAC title was the first in school history and the birth into the NCAA tournament the first since 1994. If Wesleyan hopes to continue this excellence they will need their established stars to step up again this year. After dropping the first game in the 2014 NESCAC championship 10-0 against Tufts, they showed incredible resilience to take the next two games. Coach Mark Woodworth has developed a formula for success that is not always pretty, but certainty is effective.

2. Can Wesleyan return to the World Series for the first time in over 20 years?

Last year’s NESCAC Championship certainty makes the Cards a contender to return to the playoffs again. With a cadre of returning starters the team appears to be in prime position to make a deeper run into the playoffs. If the Cards make the tournament again how far can they go? Can they reach the bar set by the 1994 Division-III runners-up? Can they win it all? Either way there is definitely something special brewing in Middletown.

3. How will Wesleyan’s 150th season celebration affect their performance?

This year will mark the 150th season of Wesleyan baseball. To celebrate the historic occasion the Cardinals will play Yale, their first ever opponent, in a regular season match up in April. They will also honor the tradition with a historic anniversary game on September 26, 2015. Will Wesleyan be able to create even more history with an incredible run into the NCAA tournament? Whatever the outcome, the 2015 season will prove to be a historic campaign.

4. How will Wesleyan stack up against top-flight competition?

In the D3baseball.com/National College Baseball Writers’ Association Preseason Poll the Tufts Jumbos were the only NESCAC team to make it into the rankings, but Wesleyan received a good chunk of votes. Now after two weeks of inactivity some of those Cardinals votes have shifted elsewhere, but still Wesleyan is right on the cusp of breaking into the top 25. The Cards’ spring break schedule includes games against No. 5 Cal Lutheran (8-1) and No. 14 Linfield (9-5) as well as two games in Pomona against Pomona-Pitzer (11-3) who is unranked but is receiving votes. If Wesleyan returns from its westward sojourn with a couple of victories against these teams then the NESCAC better get ready.

Biggest Series: Home-and-home against Amherst April 24 and 25.

Most NESCAC weekend series are played at a single site, but Amherst and Wesleyan have turned this into a home-and-home affair. Last year the Cards beat the Jeffs in Amherst and then split the pair in Middletown. Both teams expect to be competing for the NESCAC West title this season, so for Wesleyan it will be important to win the Friday bout in Connecticut before driving up to Amherst for the Saturday doubleheader.

NESCAC Summer Baseball Wrap-Up

The summer baseball season wrapped up a couple of weeks ago so forgive us for our tardiness. Back in mid-June we let you know where some NESCAC stars were playing. We officially close the 2014 baseball season with a look back at how some of those and other NESCAC stars managed this summer. And if you didn’t get out to a summer league game and you live in New England, consider yourself missing out. Between the CCBL, NECBL, and FCBL, New England has the best and most college baseball in the country.

Cape Cod Baseball League

Nick Cooney ’15, Wesleyan, Falmouth Commodores

Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics
Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics

The Cape Cod Baseball League is filled with Division One players and MLB draft picks, so it is hard for a NESCAC player to get consistent playing time, but Cooney managed to carve out a role on the Commodores. He started two games at the beginning of the year including a good six inning, two earned run performance against the Chatham A’s. After that he was converted to reliever and he finished the season with 19 innings pitched. Cooney struggled with his command yielding 11 walks, but he still managed a 4.26 ERA which is impressive given the competition.

Gavin Pittore ’16, Wesleyan, Harwich Mariners

Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics
Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics

The only other player who managed to get a healthy amount of playing time in the Cape League was Cooney’s teammate Pittore. The Harwich Mariners used Pittore in a long reliever role. He often threw multiple innings including on June 19 against the Chatham A’s when Pittore threw two scoreless innings and collected the win. His 6.09 ERA is greatly inflated by a later appearance against the A’s when Pittore allowed eight runs in one inning. Still Pittore had a great summer fulfilling a lifelong dream, including playing with one of his oldest friends.

A few others saw cups of coffee in the Cape League including Wesleyan teammates Guy Davidson ’16 and Donnie Cimino ’15. Bowdoin’s Henry Van Zant ’15 also pitched a few innings for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.

New England College Baseball League

Nick Miceli ’17, Wesleyan, Vermont Mountaineers

Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics
Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics

The NESCAC champion Cardinals had the most impressive assortment of players throughout the leagues, and Miceli was one of the few NESCAC players in the NECBL. Miceli caught on with the Mountaineers later in the summer making his first appearance on July 19. After allowing two runs in his first relief appearance, he threw 8.2 scoreless innings in his final three appearances. The Mountaineers had a good season making the NECBL playoffs before losing to Sanford in the semi-finals.

 

Tim Superko ’17, Tufts, New Bedford Red Sox

Courtesy of Tufts Athletics
Courtesy of Tufts Athletics

Superko had a tough summer as a starter. He started seven games, but averaged less than four innings per start while posting a 7.39 ERA. His biggest problem was that he was incapable of drawing consistent swings and misses garnering only 17 strikeouts. Superko’s control sometimes betrayed him as he let up 20 walks. One bright spot from the summer came in a start against Danbury.  Superko threw six scoreless innings before he took the hard luck loss when he allowed a run in the bottom of the seventh. While he did struggle this summer, Superko was also pitching in a very good league at a young age. He will be back even better next year.

Futures League

Mike Odenwaelder ’16, Amherst, Torrington Titans

Courtesy of Amherst Athletics
Courtesy of Amherst Athletics

Nobody in the NESCAC had a better summer than Odenwaelder. He absolutely crushed the ball. He posted a slashline of .370/.422/.586 on his way to winning batting title and MVP honors for the Futures League. He stole 20 bases while being caught only twice. He hit two two homers in one game and had no errors in the outfield all summer. The one thing Odenwaelder didn’t do was pitch for the Titans. Odenwaelder looks like he could somehow improve on his monster 2014 NESCAC season next year.

 

Nate Pajka ’15, Bates, Worcester Bravehearts

Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Courtesy of Bates Athletics

Pajka got off to a hot start before posting a line very similar to the one he did during the NESCAC season. Of course his .255 average this summer came against better competition than the average NESCAC pitcher. The most important thing was that Pajka got a ton of at bats (153) which should help him as he gets ready for next season. Most of Pajka’s 12 steals came in the first half of the season as his bat slowed down a little as the summer went along. Still a very successful summer for a player who will have to be a big part of the Bates offense in 2015.

 

Jack Roberts ’17 and Jack Cloud ’17, Williams, Martha’s Vineyard Sharks

Jack Roberts Courtesy of Williams Athletics
Jack Roberts
Courtesy of Williams Athletics
Jack Cloud Courtesy of Williams Athletics
Jack Cloud
Courtesy of Williams Athletics

Roberts spent the summer playing for his hometown team on the Vineyard and enjoyed a steady summer. He managed to get consistent at-bats, but only managed a .252 average with only five walks. After slumping down to .229, Roberts used three straight muli-hit games to get his average back up into the .250 range. Cloud saw his playing time dwindle as the summer went along making his last appearance on July 17, but he hit .260 for the summer as well as walking 11 times to have an OBP of .387.

Mekae Hyde ’15, Bates, Old Orchard Raging Tide

Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Courtesy of Bates Athletics

The positives for Hyde this summer is that he was the starting catcher and got a lot of at-bats and had a respectable .346 OBP. The negative is that his batting average was only .232. Still he can live with that because of the five home runs he also hit. Hyde had one of his best games August 3rd against the Dirt Dawgs when he went 3-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Hyde saw his power come in bunches as he hit three homers in seven games and then two in back to back games but none others.

 

Soren Hanson ’16, Colby, Martha’s Vineyard Sharks

Courtesy of Colby Athletics
Courtesy of Colby Athletics

It took a little bit of time for Hanson to get going, but once he did this summer, he turned into one of the best pitchers in the Futures League. Hanson started the season as a reliever before starting seven games in the second half of the season. He finished the season with a 2.07 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 52 innings. He also had three scoreless starts of six or more innings. Hanson had some troubles at the beginning of the NESCAC season in 2014 as well but finished the year strong and looks primed for a great 2015.

 

Andrew David ’16, Tufts, Brockton Rox

Courtesy of Tufts Athletics
Courtesy of Tufts Athletics

David threw the fifth most amount of innings in the Futures League, but he finished with a somewhat average 3.92 ERA. His success came from barely walking anyone as he allowed only four walks over the entire season. Teams did hit him pretty hard however as he allowed seven or more hits in each of his final five starts. David was somewhat of an afterthought for Tufts in 2014 because of all the talent in their staff. His summer performance shows a capable pitcher, but one who relies heavily on the defense behind him because he doesn’t strike too many batters out.

Rob DiFranco ’16, Bates, North Shore Navigators

Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Courtesy of Bates Athletics

This was an exceptional summer for the Bates reliever. He put up a miniscule 0.82 ERA  over 32.2 innings of relief. His K:BB ratio of 8.3:1 was exceptional, and DiFranco finished with eight saves for the Navigators. DiFranco was the best pitcher for the North Shore squad and flashed the ability to go more than one inning several times. With the loss of several starters, DiFranco might be pushed into starting duty next spring for Bates. If he is not a starter, then he will be a lethal weapon out of the bullpen.

 

Kyle Slinger ’15, Tufts, Worcester Bravehearts

Courtesy of Tufts Athletics
Courtesy of Tufts Athletics

This summer was pretty much a continuation of Slinger’s impressive NESCAC season but with a few more hiccups. Despite those, he finished the season with a 2.55 ERA over eight starts and had a good 6.2:1 K:BB ratio. His best start of the summer was an eight inning outing against the Torrington Titans when Slinger allowed only one run on two hits. The run came in the first inning and after that Slinger fired seven innings of perfect ball. His 0.92 WHIP shows his ERA was no lie, and the southpaw should have another great season in 2014.

Atlantic College Baseball League

Joe Jensen ’15, Hamilton, Trenton Generals

Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics
Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics

One of the few NESCAC players to play on a team outside of New England, Jensen spent the summer in New Jersey. He could not match the gaudy stats he put up in the NESCAC, but still hit for a .269 average and made the ACBL all-star game. His play also fell off somewhat as the season went along as he had .380 OBP at points of the summer before a late season slide. His 13 steals for the season were also below the ludicrous rate he puts up in the NESCAC, but was still the fifth best amount in the league.

 

A few more NESCAC players saw a little bit of time in the Futures League and beyond but we ran out of space to feature those guys. If we missed anyone important please leave it in the comments and we will make sure to remedy our mistakes.

That does it for us in 2014 for baseball coverage. Stay warm this fall and winter and be ready for when the NESCAC returns in the spring.

Saturday Recap

Saturday brought more excitement and intrigue with two teams going home in the NESCAC tournament’s version of moving day.

Wesleyan jumped into the driver’s seat with a scintillating 3-2 victory over Tufts. Both starters shut down the offenses early with the game scoreless through four innings. Tufts struck first in the top of the fifth on a Max Freccia ’14 double to score Wade Hauser ’15. Wesleyan battled back when they played some small ball. Andrew Yin ’15 plated Nick Miceli ’17 on a bunt single. After a Donnie Cimino ’15 single, both runners moved up on a double steal, and scored on a Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15 single. Gavin Pittore ’16 made sure the lead held up with 4.2 innings of one run ball in relief. He jumped all over Tufts’ hitters with nine strikeouts and moves to 6-1 on the season. A more complete recap can be found here. Also a thanks to Wescores for providing pictures of the game here.

Now the Cardinals head into tomorrow in complete control. Manager Mark Woodworth made clear how much he wanted to win when he brought in Pittore so quickly in relief. The move made perfect sense since a loss would have made Wesleyan need three more wins to take the championship. It is unclear who will get the start tomorrow for the Cardinals, but Woodworth will probably be ready to use any of his pitchers including Pittore and Nick Cooney ’15.

In the loser’s bracket Bates beat Amherst in what was the most surprising result of the day. Bates rallied from down 2-1 to score three runs in the eighth to win 4-2 and bounce Amherst from the tournament. No doubt a disappointing finish for Amherst, but all the credit should be given to a Bates team that proved they are right there with the best teams in the NESCAC this weekend. Dean Bonneau ’14 was spectacular in relief allowing only one hit in 3.2 scoreless innnings. A complete recap can be found here.

The last game of the day was another elimination game between East Division foes Tufts and Bates. Tufts used a five run third inning to take much of the suspense out of the game. Christian Sbily ’14 and Tom Ryan ’15 made sure the lead had no problem holding up for Tufts as they cruised to a 7-1 victory. Recap is here. Bates finishes the season at 20-21, but that record vastly undersells the quality of team they were. Tufts moves onto the championship where they will have to win two games tomorrow against Wesleyan.

It will be a tall task for Tufts to beat Wesleyan twice especially given that their three top pitchers have already started this weekend. The potential ability for pitchers to quickly turn around and pitch even one or two innings will be a huge difference maker. Right now a Wesleyan team that started only 5-4 looks primed to finish off a dominant run through the NESCAC regular season and playoffs.