Chaos in the East: Weekend Preview

Brendan Fox '17 is the only consistent weapon right now on a Bates team trying to make its third straight playoff appearance. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Brendan Fox ’17 is the only consistent weapon right now on a Bates team trying to make its third straight playoff appearance. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

It might sound crass to say it so early in the conference season, but Wesleyan, Amherst and Tufts are all going to make the playoffs. I feel very confident saying that, though I hope that somebody proves me wrong. If that is the case, the most intriguing part of the regular season is seeing who gets that second spot out of the East. Bates has grabbed it the past two seasons, but both years they did it with a less than sterling 7-5 record. So who is it going to be in the second spot in the East this year?

This weekend will go a long way towards sorting that out with the four East Division teams besides Tufts meeting in conference series. Trinity (2-1 in conference) travels to Maine to play Colby who has yet to start their conference slate. Bates (0-2) and Bowdoin (1-2) meet in games that could almost eliminate the series loser from the playoff race. Projecting these two series is difficult, but that is what makes it fun.

As always, keep an eye on the weather too. The fields have taken a beating this week, and while the skies look fairly clear for the weekend, play today could be slightly disrupted.

Three to Watch

1. 1B Chad Martin ’16 (Bowdoin): That Polar Bear offense sputtered against Trinity as Bowdoin lost two of three. Martin has to get on track as the star in the middle of the lineup if Bowdoin is going to do well. He has an OBP. below .300 and a slugging percentage less than .400 so things have not gone for the All-NESCAC Second Teamer. The one silver lining is that he has two home runs, and that is a sign that he is still hitting the ball hard at points. My best guess is that he is trying to do too much righ now because he knows how much Bowdoin relies on him. Soooo, maybe not a good idea to put even more pressure on him, especially since I’m a Bowdoin fan. Ehh, whatever. I believe in Martin, and so should you.

2. IF Connor Reenstierma ’16 (Bates): Another offense that sputtered last weekend: that would the Bates Bobcats. What is killing Bates is not that they don’t have one guy doing great. Brendan Fox ’17 is having a fantastic junior season and is batting well above .400. The problem is that every single other guy is hitting well below their capabilities. Reenstierma is a guy that is great at getting on base. Though his batting average is usually much lower, he excels at working the count. Getting on-base alone might not be enough for Bates to get a good offense this weekend, but it would certainly help a lot. Bates is going to have to grind for everything they get all season, and this is the weekend when the grinding has to happen a lot.

3. P Ethan Rode ’17 (Wesleyan): I’m not paying any attention at all to the West, but there is the potential for one of the underdogs in the West to pull a fast one. Wesleyan is HOT right now winning their past seven games. One of the reasons for that is that Rode has gotten back on track. Things went as bad as they could in his first two appearances. Since then, he has delivered three dynamite starts for the Cardinals. In those three starts he has a 1.28 ERA. That should make other NESCAC teams very worried. Wesleyan’s offense has not fallen off from last season, and the possibility of Rode and Peter Rantz ’16 forming a formidable top of the rotation could spell game over.

Colby vs. Trinity Preview

The Bantams series win last weekend has them thinking playoffs, but Trinity won two of three last year against Bowdoin and still finished well outside the playoff race so don’t put too much stock in that. The Mules have struggled mightily so far this season, and there are real questions about the depth of talent on the roster.

You should know that Soren Hanson ’16 is a two-way stud for Colby, and he has been lights out on the mound with a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 IP. The Mules desperately need somebody else to deliver a quality start . I’m also intrigued with how Colby uses Hanson. Do they start him in the nine inning Friday game or save him for Saturday? I prefer pitching him Game 1 on Saturday since it is much more likely that he is able to go all seven than all nine on Friday. Nothing would be worse for the Mules than for Hanson to throw a gem for most of the game Friday, only for the bullpen to blow it late.

Trinity will probably toss Jed Robinson ’16 on Friday and Anthony Egeln ’18 has solidified that second spot. The third starter last week was Chris Speer ’17, and he is likely to start again. The games could easily hinge on an error by either team, and that favors the Bantams. I want to put my faith in the team from Hartford given the track record of that program, but it still isn’t clear if there is a lot of young talent beyond Brendan Pierce ’18. Even so, Colby is very down this year, and I think the Bantams become the frontrunner to get that second spot.

Prediction: Trinity wins two of three

Bowdoin vs. Bates Preview

I’ve already talked a little bit about how both offenses have struggled this season. That means pitching this weekend entails making no mistakes, ala walking a lot of batters or serving up a meatball in the wrong situation.

In this type of situation I give Bates the advantage because of their more experienced pitchers, but Bowdoin is still capable of throwing two seniors in Harry Ridge ’16 and Michael Staes ’16 that have the stuff to shut down a lineup. The weather in Maine is going to be cold and rainy, and that means pitchers have the advantage. Any fly ball is going to die in the air, not to mention the discomfort hitters will experience at the plate.

Both of these programs are solid, but they have not been able to scratch above that upper-middle class status at any point recently. It doesn’t appear that this year is going to be particularly different, and the first weekends games were downright disturbing. At the same time, a lot of talent remains on both of these squads. Sombody young might step up and make the difference, but my money is on old stalwarts like Rob DiFranco ’16 or Sean Mullaney ’17 to be the biggest stars. Bates has more of those players that have been around the block, and I think they keep themselves in the playoff race with a series win this weekend.

Prediction: Bates wins two of three

Wrapping Up March: Stock Report 3/29

The Amherst baseball diamond looks oh so fine. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
The Amherst baseball diamond looks oh so fine. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

I have been somewhat out of the loop during the beginning of the NESCAC baseball season because I was traveling for school, and so I have been unable to write anything recently. I want to thank Kaitlin McCabe who has taken on the lion’s share of writing to make up for my deficiencies. For the rest of the spring, you can expect at least one article a week from both Kaitlin and me, if not more.

Alright, onto baseball now. Conventional wisdom entering the year was that despite heavy losses, the trio of Wesleyan, Amherst and Tufts remained the class of the league. Those three teams have dominated the NESCAC the past couple of years. There has been nothing in the early portion of the year to suggest that those three are going to experience a huge drop off. Wesleyan is 10-3 behind a powerful lineup that is averaging better than 10 runs per game. Amherst is 9-2 because of their strong rotation. Tufts is 6-3, and two of those losses are by a single run.

Bowdoin and Hamilton have been early surprises, but it is way too early to put too much into their success. At this point, every team except for Middlebury and Williams has completed their spring break trip and has returned to the norther hinterlands of New England. That pretty much sums things up, right? Well no, not really. Let’s dive in a little deeper.

Stock Up

Bowdoin’s Youth Movement

Forget the loss of ace Henry Van Zant ’15 from the rotation, Bowdoin’s biggest hole entering the season was the need to replace the majority of their lineup. Seven of the 10 players with the most plate appearances on the team in 2015 have graduated. What remained was Chad Martin ’16, Peter Cimini ’16, Sean Mullaney ’17 and a whole lot of question marks. Again, it’s early, but the offense has been pretty decent even as Martin has had a slow start. The Polar Bears rank near the bottom of the league in OBP, AVG, SLG, and runs scored, but honestly that is better than I thought they would be at this point. Now, the question is whether hot starts for guys like Luke Cappellano ’19 (.381/.435/.476) and Sawyer Billings ’18 (.455/.500/.636) mean anything or if they are the result of a small sample size. Also, the unconscious hitting of Sean Mullaney, owner of a .588 OBP so far, is unlikely to continue at quite the same astronomic levels. Manager Mike Connolly always plays a lot of guys during the Florida trip, and so some of the spots are still being played out.

Bates Pitchers Named Connor

The duo of Connor Speed ’18 and Connor Colombo ’16 has anchored the rotation thus far, starting a combined eight of the 14 games for Bates. The two are pretty much picking up from where they ended last season as the two pitchers with the most IP on Bates. Speed’s numbers are almost exactly the same from a year ago. While a 3.63 ERA isn’t anything spectacular, Speed has upped his K rate to 9.67 K/9, a close to elite level. Even better is Speed’s 24:4 K:BB ratio so far. Colombo has a gaudy ERA of 1.74, but that is a little misleading since nine of his 13 runs allowed have been unearned. Together with Anthony Telesca ’17, the Bobcats have a weekend rotation pretty much set, and they can also bring talented reliever Rob DiFranco ’16 out of the bullpen.

Wesleyan Outfielder Marco Baratta ’16

It is going to be a theme for us to talk about Wesleyan players that are stepping up from last season to keep the Cardinals great. Last week it was Nick Miceli ’17, and now it’s Baratta, the transfer from Skidmore. Baratta only gained consistent playing time at the very end of 2015, but he has been a stud so far this year. The slashline is impressive obviously at .438/.558/.813. That slugging percentage is tops in the NESCAC, and it’s because he has 11 extra base hits, including two homers. He has a hit in 12 of the 13 games Wesleyan has played so far, and he has reached base in every single one. That type of production is one of the reasons why the Wesleyan offense is better so far than a year ago, despite the loss of some big pieces. The only downside is his K rate of 29.2 percent, a number that could mean a drop in production is on the horizon.

Stock Down

Williams Pitching

It feels like a yearly tradition at this point for me to write about how Williams has talent but they can’t get over their Achilles heel of bad pitching. Things are no different in 2016. The team ERA for the Ephs is 10.97, a terrible number. To be fair, Tucson, Arizona is where Division-III ERAs go to die, but still. I think even more damning is that in their nine games this year, Williams has allowed six runs or more in every game. That puts a lot of pressure on the offense. The Ephs got two wins yesterday, but they came with scores of 12-11 and 9-8. Another thing that really worries me is the team’s K/9 rate is a measly 4.19, easily the lowest in the league. That means that their pitchers aren’t missing many bats, and no pitcher has been a standout in that area at all. One of the positives is that Luke Rodino ’17 has pitched reasonably well in his two starts and has a 3.86 ERA. He emerged as the best pitcher on Williams down the stretch last year, and he gives Williams at least one pitcher they can start to build with.

Middlebury Team Speed

Middlebury has played six games so far. Their steal total as a team: a big fat zero. Twice the Panthers have attempted to steal a base, but both times that ended with them being gunned down. To not steal a base over a few games is not that unusual, but to have no steals through six games is a tad disconcerting. It also makes me wonder if it’s just something in that Vermont water that slows them down. Now the question is, when does Middlebury finally steal a base, and who does it? Keep in mind that last year they had only seven steals all season and nobody had more than two individually. My money would be on Ryan Rizzo ’17 usually, but he is also coming back from a football knee injury and may be unwilling to test it too much. The Panthers have five games left in Arizona. Let’s hope that they get at least one by then.

NESCAC Stars Summer Baseball Update

We have been quiet this summer, busy with other endeavors and soaking up the sun. However, many NESCAC baseball players have spent the summer playing ball, often in the highly competitive collegiate leagues that feature Division One players and future high draft picks. Overall we found less NESCAC players in top-tier leagues this summer, but the numbers tend to fluctuate year-to-year. We focus on the New England summer leagues here, but leave a comment about any other players we missed and we will make sure to give them recognition.

 Cape Cod League

Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics
Gavin Pittore ’16

Bourne Braves Pitcher Gavin Pittore ’16 (Wesleyan): The only player from the NESCAC on a Cape League team at this stage of July, no NESCAC player has had a better summer than Pittore. After finishing the NESCAC season with a 1.53 ERA, Pittore has carried over his success to the Cape League which is widely considered the best summer league in the country and is littered with future MLB first round draft picks. A year ago he spent the season on the Harwich Mariners but pitched sparingly. This summer he has become a vital part of the Braves bullpen with 10 appearances so far. Incredibly Pittore is yet to allow an earned run over 14.2 IP. He has struck out 17 batters and has a WHIP of 0.75. That success has rocketed Pittore into prominence among scouts so much so that even though he didn’t get drafted last month, he might sign with an MLB team soon and forego his senior year at Wesleyan.

New England Collegiate Baseball League

Connor Colombo '16
Connor Colombo ’16

Valley Blue Sox Pitcher Connor Colombo ’16 (Bates): This spring was a breakout campaign for the tall Bates right-hander, and Colombo has proven that his performance wasn’t a fluke with solid pitching this summer. In 24.2 IP, he owns a 3.28 ERA in what is considered by many the second-best college baseball summer leageu. Colombo has acted as both a starter and long reliever in his six appearances, and he has a 1-1 record. Though he has only struck out 11 batters, Colombo has done a good job of keeping the ball in the park and not allowing too many hard hit balls. He also is the only player in the NESCAC who has managed to stick on an NECBL team this summer which is a much lower number than in past years.

 Futures League

Courtesy of Colby Athletics
Courtesy of Colby Athletics

Seacoast Mavericks Outfielder Ryder Arsenault ’17 (Colby): After another successful spring for the Mules, Arsenault has received extensive playing time for the Mavericks. However, this has been a difficult summer for Arsenault who now sits well below the Mendoza line with a .183 batting average. A recent slump has really torpedoed his statistics as he was hitting a much more respectable .250 on June 24. Still, Arsenault has been able to see a lot of pitches at a high level of baseball, and it is also possible that he is dealing with an injury since he has not stolen one base after snagging 20 this past spring.

North Shore Navigators Pitchers Speros Varinos ’17 (Tufts), Tim Superko ’17 (Tufts), and Rob DiFranco ’16 (Bates): We do a three-for-one for a Navigators staff that relies heavily on all three NESCAC pitchers. Relievers Varinos and DiFranco are first and third on the team in ERA with a 1.74 and 2.18 respectively. Starter Superko has started six games and owns a sporty 2.57 ERA. DiFranco started the season in the Cape League, but he has returned to the Navigators for his third season there where he has bounced back from a subpar conference season this spring. Varinos has not had an opportunity to get much shine behind all the other stars for Tufts, but he has been excellent this summer coming out of the bullpen and earned a spot on the Futures League All-Star team. Finally, Superko has looked good as a starter. One concern for Superko is that his walk rate is still way to high. He has a whopping 24 walks in only 28 innings.

Chad Martin '16
Chad Martin ’16

North Shore Navigators First Baseman Chad Martin ’16 (Bowdoin): Martin has been pretty much the same player he was this spring but with less power. He has benefited from playing every day as he leads the Navigators in at bats with 148, more than he had all spring. Hitting in the middle of the lineup has provided Martin plenty of opportunities to drive runs in and he is second on the team with 23 RBIs while batting .291. Martin has been especially hot lately with multiple hits in his four of his last five games and at least one hit in eight of his last nine.

Brockton Rox Pitcher Andrew David ’16 (Tufts) and Martha’s Vineyard Sharks Zach Brown ’18 (Tufts): Both of these Tufts pitchers are going to be at the All-Star game tonight (it’s in Lynn if anyone is interested!) along with Varinos meaning the Jumbos have a full triumvirate on the squad. For David, this summer has been a continuation of a bounce back spring for him in the NESCAC. The key has been a newfound ability to strike guys out, and he has 25 Ks in 31 innings to propel him to a 2.32 ERA. Brown is having a sensational summer as a starter after being a reliever for most of the spring. He has started six games, his only appearances, and has a sparkling 1.74 ERA. Brown is in the same mold of Superko as a guy who gets a lot of strikeouts but also walks a lot of guys. If he can carry over his pitching from this summer into the rotation next spring, the Jumbos will have a top three of him, David and Superko which is pretty formidable especially given all the pitching Tufts has lost in the last two years.

Soren Hanson '16
Soren Hanson ’16

Martha’s Vineyard Sharks Soren Hanson ’16 (Colby): By chance I saw Hanson pitch last Thursday against the Nashua Silver Knights. He went 6.2 innings and allowed only one run, though he did not collect the win. Hanson relied heavily on his curveball, throwing it early in counts to get called strikes and not just swings and misses. The start brought his overall ERA to 3.43, the lowest it has been since after his first start of the season. Hanson has not been hitting at all this season unlike he did for Colby, leaving that instead for his teammates and fellow NESCAC players Wesleyan shortstop Guy Davidson ’16 and Jack Roberts ’17. In fact, along with Williams catcher and Nothing But NESCAC contributor Adam Dulsky ’18, the Sharks have four NESCAC players on the roster. Hey, you can’t call NESCAC players stupid. Who wouldn’t want to spend the summer on Martha’s Vineyard playing baseball?

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.

Bobcats Looking to Build on Success: Bates Baseball Season Preview

Nate Pajka '15 no longer has this awesome mustache, but he is hitting well for Bates thus far. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Nate Pajka ’15 no longer has this awesome mustache, but he is hitting well for Bates thus far. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

2014 Record: 20-21 (7-5, Second in NESCAC East), Lost in NESCAC Playoff Semifinals

Starters Returning: 7 (6 Position Players, 1 Starting Pitcher)

Projected Lineup: (Stats are from 2014)

1B Rockwell Jackson ’15 (.310/.382/.372, 0 HR, 11 RBI)
CF/P Sam Warren ’16 (.302/.388/.442, 1 HR, 9 RBI)
C Mekae Hyde ’15 (.313/.353/.363, 0 HR, 6 RBI)
RF Nate Pajka ’15 (.261/.331/.426, 3 HR, 13 RBI)
DH Evan Czopek ’16 (.267/.380/.350, 0 HR, 8 RBI)
SS Brendan Fox ’17 (.265/.359/.306, 0 HR, 15 RBI)
3B Sam Berry ’16 (.145/.269/.164, 0 HR, 6 RBI)
LF Ryan McCarthy ’17 (.217/.294/.304/0 HR, 6 RBI)
2B Conor Reenstierna ’16 (.211/.302/.237, 0 HR, 8 RBI

RHP Will Levangie ’15 (1-3, 3.34 ERA, 6.67 K/9, 29.2 IP)
RHP Rob DiFranco ’16 (3-3, 3.60 ERA, 12.15 K/9 , 20.0 IP)
RHP Connor Speed ’18

 Offensive Overview:

Bates has already played seven games so we know something about them already. The most important thing we have learned thus far is that Nate Pajka ’15 is mashing baseballs. He has a .1000 slugging percentage in large part because he already has four home runs. Pajka will need to continue hitting like that as Bates is replacing both boppers Griff Tewksbury ’14 and Kevin Davis ’14. Those two were far and away Bates’ best two hitters a year ago. However, so far the Bobcats have hit much better as a team than they did a year ago. Besides Pajka, Evan Czopek ’16 has shown massive improvement after hitting only .265 in 2014. It is unusual to see a first baseman leading off, but Rockwell Jackson ’15 is a converted outfielder. Bates had the second most walks of anybody in the NESCAC a season ago, and they will again rely on a patient approach at the plate.

Defensive Overview:

One of the biggest reasons for Bates making a run into the playoffs after a shaky start to the season was how their defense improved as the season went along. Even though they finished the season with 63 errors, third most in the NESCAC, they had only 15 errors in conference which was the third lowest mark. Though Bates will miss Davis’ bat, they won’t miss his 14 errors that he had in the field ago. Sam Berry ’15 will be an improvement at third base. Shortstop Brendan Fox ’17 has struggled somewhat early on with five errors already this season, but he was pretty sure-handed in 2014. Expect this defense to resemble the one from the end of the season and be a big positive behind the pitching staff.

Pitching Staff:

The loss of Brad Reynolds ’14 and Chris Fusco ’14 to graduation is a lot. Reynolds practically dragged the Bobcats to the postseason as he finished the season with a 2.20 ERA in 61.1 IP. Fusco was not a great pitcher always, but he ate up a lot of innings. Will Levangie ’15 is the only returning starter, but he doesn’t scream ace because of his average K/9 ratio. Rob DiFranco ’16 is making the transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation and has looked good in his two starts thus far. The third spot is still somewhat up in the air, though Connor Speed ’18 looks like he has grabbed it for now. Sam Warren ’16 will also be in the mix for that third spot. Bates relied a lot on their bullpen a year ago meaning a bunch of guys pitched between 20 and 10 innings. Guys like Marc Cunningham ’16 and Connor Colombo ’16 have a tall task in replacing DiFranco in the pen.

The Bobcats lounging in the dugout.
The Bobcats lounging in the dugout. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Storylines to Watch

1. How many players make a big leap forward?

Bates lost their three bona fide stars (Davis, Tewksbury, and Reynolds) who were a huge reason for their surprise run in the East. Now a lot of players capable of breaking out remain on the roster. The Bobcats need to have a few players show remarkable year-to-year improvement in order to succeed. As noted above, Pajka appears to be in the midst of a big season, and Czopek is also smashing the ball to the tune of a .464 average thus far. A couple of other players are off to great starts as well. However, the team overall is hitting .337, an impossible pace to keep up. It is possible that a good amount of their stats are inflated by weak pitching. On the rotation end of things, a few guys could go a long way in replacing Reynolds, and the guy below is probably the most likely to come close.

2. Can Rob DiFranco ’16 adjust to starting?

DiFranco flashed his potential as a reliever last spring in large part because of his 12.15 K/9 ratio. Then he delivered a stellar summer season for the North Shore Navigators in the Futures League. He appeared in 22 games and posted a .095 ERA in 33.2 innings while walking only three batters. He ended up being voted the Navigators Player of the Year for his performance. Now he is being asked to move to the rotation. I think he will make the transition much more easily than Big League flame-outs Joba Chamberlain and Daniel Bard, the first reliever-turned-starters that come to mind. Still, he will have to adjust and learn how to pitch against batters when they come up in the order for the second or third time. Pounding the zone like he did this summer is a good place to start of course.

3. Will their unique schedule hurt them?

Because of the Bates academic calendar, the Bobcats start their season well before everybody else with a trip to California in mid-February. They just played their first game back north on Monday, and three games remain on the schedule before they open the NESCAC schedule with Trinity. Weather might end up impacting one or more of those three games. At best Bates will play four games in the month between their trip and their games against Trinity. That means their hitters will not have seen much live pitching during that time. While you can simulate at-bats in practice as much as you like, game at-bats are impossible to recreate perfectly. Of course, Bates, in their first live action in more than 20 days, put up 16 runs on Monday against MIT so maybe it won’t affect them at all.

Biggest Series: April 24-25 at Tufts

Bates plays the East favorites in the final weekend of NESCAC play, and chances are that the second spot will still be very much up in the air at that point. Playing Tufts last is not likely to help Bates much as the Jumbos will still play their regular starters, but even so the Bobcats should be playing with a lot more urgency than the Jumbos.

Not Playing Around: Bates vs. Trinity Email Chain

The Bates student body is ready to make the trip to Babson (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
The Bates student body is ready to make the trip to Babson (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

NothingbutNESCAC: In the lead up to the big game tomorrow night, we wanted to give everyone the chance to hear from some more, well, partisan viewpoints. We managed to get the student announcers for Trinity (Sean Meekins and Carson Kenney) and Bates (Connor Colombo and Rob DiFranco) on one email chain. We told them to lay out their arguments for why their respective team would win. All four also happen to play baseball, which added to the friendly banter back and forth.

Sean Meekins (Trinity): I honestly may not watch the game. If there is any chance of a college game being a shut out, it is this one on Friday night.

Connor Colombo (Bates): I completely agree with you man; Bates’ defense is that good that Trinity may be shut out. Good prediction on your part….

Carson Kenney (Trinity): What’s going on boys. Hope everyone is enjoying this Monday evening. Just want to clarify: is this the same Bates that Trinity beat by 7 earlier this year when Safford and Boornazian combined to shoot a glorious 6-26 from the field? Or is there another Bates in upstate New York or something?

Rob DiFranco (Bates): Remind us: Is this the same Trinity College Bantams that caught an L against a school called Merchant Marine who held a 2-11 record at that time?

CK (Trinity): ​Ahhh I knew this would come up. Let me take this Sean. That game actually was wild because somehow our women’s team showed up instead of the men’s team (classic mixup). Since it was our fault for the mixup, they decided to play the ball as it lies and count it as a real game.
Yeah I actually got nothing for that one. I was hoping neither of you two remembered that. Point: Bates, for that one. All sarcasm aside, Safford and Boornazian scare me since the generally accepted blueprint to winning March Madness is good guard play. So Starks/Hurd/Gliedman will have to step up. But I like our bigs over Bates bigs. Papadeas and Ogundeko will give Delpeche all he can handle. Plus Ajayi and Conaway typically cause match up problems at the 3/4

CC (Bates): College basketball is reliant on good guard play when it comes to the tournament as you said. Looking back to that match-up between Bates and Trinity earlier in the season, you mentioned that Bates lost by 7 with Boornazian/Safford shooting a poor 6-26 from the field combined. How have they fared in this tournament so far? Well, they are averaging 44 PPG combined, while Trinity’s leading scorers (Stark and Ajayi) have only averaged 25.5 combined, nearly a 20 POINT difference!! Not to mention the Delpeche twins and Boornazian have combined for 8 blocks down low while Trinity’s starting forwards have only combined for 4 blocks so far. So it seems Bates has the better offensive backcourt as well as the better defensive frontcourt right now….let’s just say that’s not a good thing for the Bantams as they are about to face a red hot Bobcat squad

CK (Trinity): No doubt Boornazian and Safford can play well. But as far as the Big Man block argument: Delpeche^2 and Boornazian have combined for 8 blocks but for Trinity, Ogundeko, Papadeas, and Conaway combined for 8 as well in both tourney games. Albeit, Ogundeko and Papadeas are rarely on the court at the same time, and Conaway, who’s a starter, has 4 of those 8.  Kid can jump out of the gym and guard just about anyone.
As far as scoring goes, no doubt that Bates is heating up at the right time and again, Boornazian and Safford are a two-headed monster that no team wants to face right now. But from what I’m seeing, and was the case against Trinity last time, their shooting efficiency is pretty tough. Against Stockton, the two combined for 32 points, yes. But they combined to shoot 32 percent (9-28) which isn’t great offensive efficiency. One of the Delpeche twins had 17 points and shot over 50 percent but I’m going to assume a handful of those points from the field came off of clanks from Safford or Boornazian since he had 4 O-Rebs that game. Not to say this is bound to happen, but looking at season stats, Safford, who is the team’s leading scorer, is eighth out of 11 in shooting percentage of players for Bates who have played in more than 15 games (37.9 percent). He shoots two pennies over 30 percent from beyond the arc. However he is second on the team (by 0.1) in field goals attempted per game.
Trinity also held opponents to 38.2 percent shooting from the field this season (32.1 percent from 3-pt land) so I have a feeling the Bates offense will slow down a bit on Friday.  For what it’s worth: Trinity faced a Colby-Sawyer team who had 2 players combine for 88 points in the two games leading up to their game against Trinity… they combined for 15 points against the Bants. Trinity also faced a Salisbury squad whose leading scorer put up 37 the night before against an Eastern Connecticut squad (that beat Colby this year by 21, the same Colby team that Bates beat twice by only a combined score of 11). Against Trinity, that player put up an earth shattering four (FOUR) points.  Point being: Trinity’s defense welcomes team’s leading scorers with open arms.
Also, Bates players hate snow days. *Drops the mic*

Jaquann Starks '16 driving against Salisbury last weekend. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Jaquann Starks ’16 driving against Salisbury last weekend. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

RD (Bates): As I take the microscope off of our All-NESCAC First Team PG and our most recent thousand point scorer (Boornazian as a junior) and their “poor” offensive efficiencies, I wanted to express some facts prior to this game. The game will be played at Babson College which might as well be in Lewiston, Maine. Bates has won two games on that court this season including against the nationally ranked Babson squad. Not to mention, carloads of intoxicated Bates students (driven by a designated driver) as well as local alumni will be filling up Staake Gym. Cat Country is notorious for getting rowdy and rattling opponents. That will definitely test the Bantams at the free throw line. In my eyes, Wellesley, Massachusetts looks a lot like home-court advantage for Bates and we know the Bobcats can do in their natural habitat (12-1 record at home). The Bants are going to have to look to their own team to gather some momentum because I don’t think there will be much in the bleachers.
On a less serious note, our team manager/supervisor of morale – Mike Tomaino – can beat your team manager one on one. Sent from night class, Spanks.

CK (Trinity): ​The one thing that jumps out to me on the Trinity side is the play of Shay Ajayi over the last month or so.  The last time the Bants faced Bates, Ajayi scored only two points on 1-4 shooting. However in the last eight games Trinity has played (dating back to January 31 against Colby) Ajayi has put up double digits seven out of the eight games, all above his season average.  This means he should have plenty of confidence coming into Friday night. If he plays like he has been lately, it will help spread the ball and give Bates more to worry about from an athleticism standpoint.

SM (Trinity): Bates basketball wears seat belts on the bus.

CC (Bates): Trinity basketball jumps from the free throw line.

CK (Trinity): ​Game, Set, Match: Connor Colombo. Also, I just saw Andre Drummond tweet at Boornazian? Can one of you guys explain that to me?

CC (Bates): Boornazian and Drummond go way back to the chain link net days in the backyard growing up. Both are good friends from Connecticut and still keep in touch very often. Mike has even lived with Andre during the summers and worked out with NBA stars like Kevin Love to improve his game. Yes, Andre has been to Bates before and yes, he did put on a show in Alumni during some pickup ball.

CK (Trinity): ​Since it’s the Sweet 16 and I’m feeling myself after predicting Trinity’s first round game point differential spot on and only being two off in the second round, I’m gonna say Trinity wins this one 76-73 in an overtime thriller. At which point I expect Mr. Colombo to write a hand written congratulatory note that can be delivered to the Larocque household where I will pick it up at Easter.
In all seriousness, this has all the makings for a great college basketball game. Wish we could be there. Best of luck to you guys this [baseball] season as well, except for the weekend of March 27.

SM (Trinity): Bates obviously has the home court advantage, which is garbage because Trinity is the higher seed. But I think the rest has helped Trinity recover after the battles this weekend. I think Trinity wins this one 64-59. I feel like their defense is going to come to play. It also helps Trinity that Bates wears ankle socks with black new balances, which is an absolute dusty look, and based on looks alone Trinity will pull this one off by five. It is unfortunate Trinity students will be on break because as the visiting teams know from hockey games, the fans are a major factor (Bates didn’t get the invite to the whole NESCAC hockey party). In other notes, mens’ hockey is going to the Frozen Four. If you want to throw that prediction into the mix, lock it up and throw away the key.

CC (Bates): Touché Carson. Although your score predictions may be straight out of a genie’s magic ball, I think putting this game into overtime is a bit of a stretch. I’m guessing Safford and Boornazian combine for a whopping 50 points and their three point shooting is above 45 percent. I don’t know what your relationship is with the Trinity basketball players, but us baseball players have a strong bond with the basketball team and I have never seen a more confident group than this one. Safford has done all he can this offseason and regular season to be ready for the position he is in now. The senior is ready to play the biggest game of his career. Philpott, Selmon, the twins, Newton, and Boornazian also know they all need to give their best efforts to push this team into the Elite 8. Final score: 72-65 Bates. Good luck to all the players participating in this ever so exciting NESCAC sweet sixteen matchup, and may the best team win.
Goodnight fellas… and no matter what the result, I’m sure we all want to see one of these NESCAC teams represent the conference in the Final Four. Connor Colombo, aka Bumbo, signing off.

SM (Trinity): Carson just said, “If they score 50 points, I will crab walk around campus for a week.” That’s how confident he is that this won’t happen.

RD (Bates): I’m gonna say Bobcats by six, 62-56, after cutting a halftime deficit. I don’t think Boornazian and Safford will combine for 50, but they’ll obviously contribute enough for Bates to win down the stretch. But if they do happen to combine for 50 I need some footage of this crab walk. Anyways, good luck fellas and hopefully a NESCAC squad will be represented in the Natty Ship. See you on the diamond.

CK (Trinity): Let the record show that I never actually said that…

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.

NESCAC Summer Star Watch: Where Is Your Favorite Player this Summer?

Thankfully, baseball doesn’t end when the kids leave campus in May. The majority of NESCAC ballplayers continue to lace up the cleats through the sweltering heat of June and July and, if they’re lucky enough to be on a championship contender, into the dog days of August. A handful of NESCAC stars are taking the field in some of New England’s premier intercollegiate summer baseball leagues. To save you the trouble of pouring over rosters to find out who’s playing where, we’ve done that deed for you, and combed through the rosters of every team in the Cape Cod League, New England Collegiate Baseball League and Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

Cape Cod Report:

Donnie Cimino ’15, Wesleyan, Chatham A’s

Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics
Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics

After two years atop the NESCAC batting average leaderboard in 2012 and 2013 when Cimino, a two-sport stud at Wesleyan, batted .400 and .399, earning him a profile in the New England Baseball Journal before this season began, the righty slugger slumped to a measly .329 this season, good for 15th in the league (read the sarcasm here). Cimino didn’t hit for as much power as in years past, slugging .376, but still posted an impressive 16:15 K:BB ratio and swiped 15 bags in 44 games and his team made a deep postseason run after claiming a NESCAC title. Cimino landed a temporary contract with the Chatham A’s for the summer, and has played in three of the team’s first four games, but gone hitless in six at bats.
Hopefully, Cimino can start hitting enough that they’ll decide to keep him around in Chatham, but even if he’s only there for a brief stint the experience against some of the country’s elite amateur talent will help him next season.

Guy Davidson ’16, Wesleyan, Harwich Mariners

Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics
Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics

Cimino’s teammate, shortstop Guy Davidson, is also playing in the Cape League this summer, but for Chatham opponent Harwich. Davidson is from South Harwich himself, so the chance to play for the Mariners must be a thrill. Davidson was a .273/.359/.364 hitter this year for Wesleyan, his on base percentage bolstered by 17 walks.
The Mariners are 4-0 and have the best hitting team in the Cape League to-date. Davidson has only seen one plate appearance so far, in which he struck out. 


NECBL Report:

Tim Superko ’17, Tufts, New Bedford Bay Sox

Courtesy of Tufts Athletics
Courtesy of Tufts Athletics

Superko was dominant in his first year in the league, registering a 2.64 ERA in 58.0 innings while striking out 51 hitters.
The hurler has already taken the mound in two starts for the New Bedford Bay Sox, but neither start has gone as expected. Superko surrendered eight runs (five earned) to the Valley Blue Sox on Saturday, walking four, striking out four and allowing seven hits. That outing was better than his first back on June 6, when Plymouth roughed up the lefty for six runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings. Hopefully Superko can return to the level of dominance he displayed during NESCAC play.

Futures Report:

Rob DiFranco ’16, Bates, North Shore Navigators

Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Courtesy of Bates Athletics

DiFranco was a valuable reliever for a surprising Bates squad in 2014, leading the team in appearances (15) and K/9 (12.15). DiFranco has already gotten a good deal of work for the 3-8 North Shore Navigators. The 6’1″ righty is 1-0 over 7.0 IP in four games with a 1.28 ERA and eight K’s to go along with zero walks. DiFranco’s improved control is a good sign and an improvement over his school season when he walked 10 hitters in 20.0 innings.



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

Courtesy of Colby Athletics
Courtesy of Colby Athletics

Hanson is one of three NESCAC players on the roster for the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks. Hanson was part of a talented Colby rotation this year that will be returning in full for 2015. He, Scott Goldberg ’15 and Greg Ladd ’15 all had ERAs under 3.00 for the Mules. Hanson has only pitched in relief so far for the Sharks, and has garnered a 7.71 ERA in 4.2 innings over three appearances, although his 8:1 K:BB ratio inspires hope for a turnaround soon.



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

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

Roberts burst onto the scene this year, and was near the top of the league in hitting through the first couple weeks. The lefty ended the year with a .302 average, and along with his classmate Cloud, who ended the 2014 season with a league-best .402 average, is playing for the Sharks this summer, as well. Roberts has gotten more at bats in the early going and has taken advantage of the opportunity, going 8-24 with three extra-base hits. Meanwhile, Cloud is just 2-10, and with three starting outfielders currently hitting .350 or better for Martha’s Vineyard, he will need to hit in the at bats he’s given if he hopes to earn more playing time.

Andrew David ’16, Tufts, Brockton Rox

Courtesy of Tufts Athletics
Courtesy of Tufts Athletics

Tufts had such an incredible pitching staff this year that David almost always went overlooked, but the sophomore was pretty good, posting a 3.60 ERA in 10 games (four starts). He’ll be pitching for the Brockton Rox in the summer of 2014, and has dealt so far. After four shutout innings in his first relief appearance, David earned a start on June 12 in which he threw six innings of one run ball and got the win. David has 10 K’s in 10 IP and no walks.



Mekae Hyde ’15, Bates, Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide

Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Courtesy of Bates Athletics

The 5’10” catcher was a .312 hitter for Bates this spring, but has slumped to a 4-29 start for the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide. Phenomenal name aside, Old Orchard has the league’s worst record so far, and the other two catchers on the roster are younger than Hyde and haven’t hit yet this summer either, so Hyde should get plenty of chances to get his bat going.



Sam Warren ’16, Bates, Torrington Titans

Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Courtesy of Bates Athletics

Hyde’s battery mate, Warren was a dominant reliever for the Bobcats this season with a 1.93 ERA in 18.2 innings. What’s more, Warren posted a .302/.388/.442 triple-slash line in 86 at bats while playing the outfield. Warren has hit just .226 so far for the Titans (with a worrisome 11 strikeouts in 31 at bats), but has been great as the Titans’ closer, allowing no hits and two walks while ringing up two batters and earning two saves.



Mike Odenwaelder ’15, Amherst, Torrington Titans

Courtesy of Amherst Athletics
Courtesy of Amherst Athletics

The NESCAC’s Player of the Year joins Warren with the Titans this summer. The Amherst slugger is off to a hot start. In 42 at bats over 11 games, the righty has 15 hits (.357 average), three doubles, one triple, one homer and six stolen bases. Don’t forget that Odenwaelder would likely be just as successful as Warren if Torrington decided to use him out of the pen. He had a 1.74 ERA in 20.2 innings for Amherst.



Kyle Slinger ’15, Tufts, Worcester Bravehearts

Courtesy of Tufts Athletics
Courtesy of Tufts Athletics

Slinger won the NESCAC Pitcher of the Year award after leading the conference in innings pitched (76.0) and ERA (1.18). Slinger’s dominance has continued with the Worcester Bravehearts, as he has a 1.68 ERA in two starts. Slinger started on Worcester’s opening day, tossing just four innings, but getting Odenwaelder to fly out and hit into a fielder’s choice in two at bats.



Nate Pajka ’15, Bates, Worcester Bravehearts

Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Courtesy of Bates Athletics

Pajka, the Bates outfielder, joins Slinger on the Bravehearts this summer. Pajka was a .261 hitter at school this spring, but has exploded for eights in 19 at bats so far for Worcester, tallying three doubles and two triples already.




That sums up our early season look-in to some of New England’s most competitive summer leagues. There are some other great leagues out there, of course, and plenty of NESCAC ballplayers are in leagues around the country. If we missed anyone in these leagues, or you want to let us know about a player we should keep an eye on elsewhere around the nation, please do so in the comments section.

Play ball!