Region Preview: New England

Fernando Burgos set the program record for wins in a single season (9) and career wins (18) in 2018.
UMass Boston athletics photo

by Joshua Kummins

Cream rises to the top. This old adage can certainly apply to Division 3 baseball in New England, and it’s pretty impressive given that the region is home to more colleges playing the game than any in the country.

Despite a great deal of parity across eight conferences, the region did not send a team to the College World Series for the third time in four years last spring. But the New England clubs that challenged for those eight coveted spots were no surprise.

Babson was a win away from being a part of the final World Series held in Appleton, Wis. Little East frontrunners Southern Maine and UMass Boston played late in May again. Suffolk and Mitchell continued dominant runs of conference championships, while Amherst and Western New England returned to their winning ways.

This year in New England also sees a slew of new coaches and some conference affiliation shuffling, but plenty of usual suspects are still contending to stay among the region’s elite clubs.

New Faces

Tony Annino, Lesley: A former assistant coach for the Lynx, Annino is now the dugout boss on an interim basis. He is a Waltham, Mass., native and former Arizona State pitcher.

Kevin Casey, Johnson & Wales: Casey served as an assistant at Northeastern University for the last four seasons and becomes just the third-ever head coach on the Providence, R.I., campus. The Tufts graduate played for and spent two years as a coach alongside his father, John.

Sean Callahan, Framingham State: Callahan was an assistant coach at Division 2 Stonehill College and now returns to serve as his alma mater’s head coach. He served as the hitting and catching coach at UMass Boston in 2016 and 2017.

Billy Cather, Clark: The eighth coach in Cougars history moves over to Worcester, Mass., after seven seasons at Lesley University. He led the Lynx to their first-ever New England Collegiate Conference title in 2017.

JP Pyne left Clark in the off season to take the open
head coaching job at Amherst.

Clark athletics photo

Terry Doyle, New England College: Doyle was promoted to NEC’s head coaching position after Chris Shank resigned last month. The Salem, N.H., native and Boston College graduate pitched professionally for nine seasons.

Brad Fogel, Newbury: Fogel didn’t have to travel far to take a head coaching position as he spent the last four years as an assistant at nearby Curry College. The California native will guide the Nighthawks before the Brookline, Mass., college closes following the spring semester.

Brian Hamm, Eastern Connecticut State: Hamm takes over at Eastern after Matt LaBranche became the Director of Athletics at Western New England. The two-time NESCAC Coach of the Year won 221 games and appeared in NCAAs four times in nine seasons leading Amherst.

Frank Holbrook, Rhode Island College: Holbrook spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Wheaton College, working under his own collegiate head coach, Eric Podbelski. He is a native of Middletown, R.I.

Brian Kehew, Becker: The Portsmouth, R.I., native was Eric Cirella’s top assistant coach at Salve Regina prior to taking the Becker job. He helped the Seahawks win two Commonwealth Coast Conference regular-season titles during his tenure.

Tim Mayo, Nichols: A first-time collegiate head coach, Mayo spent the last three years as Trinity’s assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. The Springfield graduate also has D3 coaching experience at Eastern Connecticut, Western New England, and Elms.

JP Pyne, Amherst: With his move from the NEWMAC to the NESCAC, Pyne becomes only the third Amherst head coach since 1966. The Saint Joseph’s (Maine) graduate guided Clark for the previous three seasons, twice setting single-season program records for wins.

Reece Tanguay, Northern Vermont-Lyndon: Tanguay was officially named NVU-Lyndon’s head coach in December after serving as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator since January and taking on interim head coach duties in the fall. He hails from Essex Junction, Vt.

Jesse Woods, Colby: Woods, who graduated from New England power Wheaton College, returns to his home region after spending eight seasons as an assistant coach at Notre Dame. He has also been an assistant at Boston College and his alma mater.

Greg Zackrison, Bridgewater State: A familiar name in baseball circles south of Boston, Zackrison takes over for BSU’s 25-year Hall of Famer Rick Smith. The UMass Dartmouth grad was the legendary Tom Frizzell’s associate head coach at Massasoit Community College last spring, a role he also held from 2003-13.

Games to Watch in 2019

Framingham State and New England College (February 23): Framingham State and New England College have a doubleheader scheduled at New England Baseball Complex. The three turf fields in Northborough, Mass., get plenty of use for college baseball, especially early in the season.

Babson at Trinity (Texas) (March 1): Babson opens its season with a three-game series at No. 4 Trinity-Texas.

Eastern Connecticut State athletics photo

Eastern Connecticut State vs Wooster (March 17): Nine-time Little East champion Eastern Connecticut meets Wooster, the top-ranked team in the nation, during the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Punta Gorda, Fla.

Southern Maine vs Rowan (March 20): No. 6 Rowan meets three New England opponents during the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational but that stretch against a perennial power in No. 12 Southern Maine.

Western New England at UMass Boston (March 28): A pair of New England Regional teams from a year ago tangle when UMass Boston hosts Western New England.

Castleton at Western Connecticut State (March 30): Castleton plays its first games as a Little East member during a doubleheader at Western Connecticut State.

Babson at Wheaton (Mass.) (April 5): Babson and Wheaton open their three-game NEWMAC East rivalry series with a Friday contest in Norton, Mass. The Beavers then host a doubleheader on Saturday.

Southern Maine at UMass Boston (April 9, 16): The annual home-and-home clash between Little East powers UMass Boston and Southern Maine is must-see and often decides first place. The first game is in Boston.

Westfield State at Mass Maritime (April 18): Westfield State travels to Mass Maritime to open a three-game series between last year’s MASCAC leaders. The Owls host a doubleheader the next day.

Suffolk at St. Joseph's (Maine) (April 27): Saint Joseph’s of Maine hosts Suffolk in a doubleheader to conclude the GNAC regular season. The two teams met for the conference title last year in Standish.

Conference Previews

Joe Cassella's batting average rose 100 points
every year in a Golden Bear uniform.

Western New England athletics photo

Commonwealth Coast Conference: Three teams in this conference won at least 25 games last season, but no team in all of New England was more effective at producing runs than Western New England (32-15). Shortstop Alex Loparco (.382, 55 R, 12 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 37 RBI, 19 SB) made this offense tick as the CCC Player of the Year scored 55 of the team’s region-leading 396 runs and enters this season 11 RBI shy of 100 for his career and 47 hits from the 200-hit mark. Fellow seniors Erik Lacaire (.290, 52 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 41 RBI, 24 SB) and Joe Cassella (.378, 48 R, 10 2B, 1 3B, 42 RBI, 21 SB) joined him on the All-CCC First Team as an outfielder and designated hitter, respectively. The Golden Bears certainly get it done on the mound, too, as Bob Hamel (7-0, 0.95, 3 SV, 53 K, 57 IP) finished his junior season as CCC Pitcher of the Year and the nation’s ERA champion, while Paul Wetmore (7-3, 3.99, 60 K, 58.2 IP) matched his left-handed teammate’s win total as Second Team All-CCC arm.

The Golden Bears had to take down back-to-back champion and first-place Salve Regina (25-15) in order to take last year’s crown. The Seahawks also have plenty of star power returning, including lefty Patrick Maybach (4-4, 1.87, 77 K, 62.2 IP), the region’s 2017 Rookie of the Year who paced the league in strikeouts as a sophomore and led the staff that fanned an average of 9.7 batters per game last year. At the plate, junior outfielder Dylan Ketch (.399, 8 2B, 22 RBI, 17 SB) was a point shy of the .400 mark to lead an offense that also brings back a slew of All-CCC performers in senior designated hitter Zack Smith (.352, 8 2B, 2 HR, 26 RBI), sophomore outfielder Michael DeFusco (.275, 7 2B, 24 RBI), and shortstop Anthony Cieszko (.326, 2 2B, 1 HR, 16 RBI).

Roger Williams (19-21) posted its first No. 2 finish in the conference since 2014 with the help of All-CCC Second Team catcher Chris Bosco (.307, 4 2B, 2 3B, 14 RBI, 19 SB) and Third Team reliever Matt Vernacatola (3-2, 2.27, 1 SV). First baseman Danny Roth (.246, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 24 RBI) was the Hawks’ top run producer. Endicott (27-17) is always in the CCC mix and hopes 2019 is no different with first baseman Nickolas Perkins (.278, 3 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI) back in the lineup after a great collegiate debut, 2017 CCC Pitcher of the Year Kevin Gould returning after a redshirt season, and senior Will Bryant (1-2, 2.00, 10 SV, 22 K, 27 IP) and junior Alexander Mandrus (5-1, 2.55, 2 SV, 37 K, 49.1 IP) teaming in the bullpen.

Wentworth (13-18) was absent from the postseason for three years and now looks to make it back-to-back appearances. Sophomore infielder Aidan French (.358, 6 2B, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 11 SB) and senior Andrew Elliott (.304, 7 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI) now captain the offense after the latter was named to the All-CCC Third Team as designated hitter, while junior Ryan Obin (1-6, 5.65) was the workhorse for what returns as an experienced pitching staff. The efforts of Rookie of the Year Joe Pedulla (6-2, 3.44, 5 CG, 45 K, 55 IP) and All-CCC Third Teamer Derek Hudson (3-4, 2.11, 5 CG, 38 K, 59.2 IP) on the mound as well as veterans Christian Hodge (.358, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 22 RBI) and Daniel Quint (.342, 5 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB) helped Gordon (18-18) match the Leopards in the middle of the standings.

Nichols (13-26) will look to the bat of first baseman Kyle Bouchard (.375, 10 2B, 3 HR, 36 RBI) to improve upon its worst finish to a season in three years and help replace stalwarts Cam Cook and Nick Roy. Brodie Altiere (3-0, 3.45) and Justin Hurley (3-2, 6.48) were the winningest Bison pitchers as underclassmen. Curry’s (10-19) biggest loss is on the mound in former Pitcher of the Year David Griffin, but the Colonels return sophomore Zachary Wensley (2-2, 2.55) to the mound and a rather experienced lineup.

Team to beat: Western New England

 Blase Cormier and the rest of the Suffolk Rams will
be looking to bring home a fifth straight GNAC title.

Suffolk athletics photo

Great Northeast Athletic Conference: This conference came down to the same two teams once again, but Suffolk (25-19) had a three-game edge at the top during the regular season and then won its fourth consecutive conference championship. The Rams will have to replace four-time All-GNAC outfielder Brady Chant, but first baseman Blase Cormier (.317, 7 2B, 2 3B, 26 RBI) burst onto the scene as a freshman and can help shoulder some of the offensive load. Second baseman Trevor Lee (.278, 5 2B, 18 RBI, 10 SB) is also a returning All-Conference player. A strong rotation consists of Tyler Zell (1-2, 2.31, 3 SV), Kevin Sinatra (4-3, 2.73), Charles Batchelder (6-3, 4.53), and Worth Walrod, the latter who missed 2018 due to injury.

Saint Joseph’s of Maine (29-13) returns a handful of All-GNAC performers from a team that finished with more overall wins than any team in the conference for the second straight year and eighth time in nine years. A pair of seniors are reigning First Team selections in shortstop Joey Murphy (.336, 1 HR, 23 RBI, 30 SB) and outfielder Jared Gagne (.393, 7 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 25 SB). Third-year third baseman Will Martin (.382, 7 2B, 10 RBI) and senior Anthony DiPrizio (.308, 10 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 28 RBI) are also back in a veteran lineup. On the mound, Zach Begin (1-0, 3.11, 47 K, 46.1 IP) finished with the third-best qualifying ERA in the league and led the Monks in strikeouts and starts as a freshman.

Johnson & Wales (24-18) returns the GNAC’s top run producer in catcher Colby Greenhalgh (.365, 11 2B, 5 3B, 1 HR, 41 RBI) as well as shortstop Raimel Rodriguez (.385, 18 2B, 4 3B, 35 RBI, 13 SB) after the pair earned All-Conference First Team honors as sophomores, while James Smiegocki (3-4, 4.32, 70 K, 66.2 IP) and Josh Mousseau (4-5, 5.67, 50 K, 39.2 IP) will be key contributors on the mound again. Lasell (10-21) placed now-senior third baseman Andre Marchesseault (.368, 7 2B, 2 HR, 19 RBI) and sophomore utility player Sean Doris (3-3, 3.49; .288, 3 2B, 2 RBI) on the on the All-Conference First Team.

Anna Maria (16-24) boasts reigning GNAC Rookie of the Year Nick Genatossio (.364, 5 2B, 1 HR, 18 RBI; 2-0, 4.35) and two other .300-hitting regulars in sophomore Noah Holland (.354, 9 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI) and junior Adam Twitchell (.352, 10 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI; 2-1, 3.80, 1 SV, 19 K, 21.1 IP), while senior lefty Colin Pipkin (4-3, 5.36, 51 K, 50.1 IP) had four wins as the AMCATS hit double digits in that category as a team for the first time since 2013. Norwich (7-23) returns a .300 hitter in sophomore Jacob Parizo (.355, 4 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI) and Gold Glove outfielder Kevin Lynch (.296, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 10 SB). Senior Jake Ryan and sophomore Luke Johansen combined to pitch six complete games for the Cadets.

Albertus Magnus (8-21) and Rivier (6-26) look to make a move up the standings. The Falcons had five All-GNAC performers last spring, including First Team third baseman Matt Warren (.360, 2 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, 40 RBI) and Second Team outfielder Tyriq Harris (.372, 14 RBI, 14 SB). Catcher Brandon Clark (.382, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 9 SB) ranked fourth in the nation with a .567 on-base percentage. Sophomores Charlie Danaher (.295, 3 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBI) and Noah Yeingst (2-2, 3.44) were key contributors to a Colby-Sawyer (6-25) squad that moves to the GNAC from the North Atlantic Conference this season.

Team to beat: Suffolk

Little East Conference: Three Little East teams have advanced to NCAAs over the last three years, but the results of its own tournament were the same for the second straight season as UMass Boston (37-10) rolled through the field as the No. 1 seed. Especially following the graduation of All-American first baseman Chris Fowler and All-New England second baseman Dave Murphy, the Beacons will rely on a deep staff that starters Fernando Burgos (9-1, 3.08, 61.1 IP) and JT Morin (6-1, 2.50, 66 K, 57.2 IP) and closer Bobby Tramondozzi (4-2, 3.06, 9 SV, 27 K, 32.1 IP) will lead. Four All-LEC players return to the lineup in third baseman Eddie Riley (.269, 5 HR, 33 RBI), catcher Ryan McCormick (.354, 15 2B, 1 HR, 41 RBI), shortstop Charlie Huegi (.273, 6 2B 4 3B, 26 RBI, 17 SB), and designated hitter-turned-first baseman Kyle Boudrias (.344, 9 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 32 RBI). Former Junior College All-American infielder Ryan Collins (.404, 5 HR, 31 RBI at Northern Essex CC) and pitcher Matt Demma (3-0, 2.78, 32 K, 32.1 IP at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine) could make a big impact as transfers.

Jake Dexter, the 2018 LEC Player of the Year,
returns for senior season.

Southern Maine athletics photo

Southern Maine (30-15) was the Little East’s other 30-win team after making another deep NCAA regional run in New York, despite finishing third in the standings. Jake Dexter (.382, 71 H, 13 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 30 RBI; 5-4, 2.44, 13 SV, 47 K, 44.1 IP) earned Preseason All-America and last season’s LEC Player of the Year honors for his two-way exploits as he led the Huskies with in batting as the second baseman and all New England closers with a program-record 13 saves. Named to All-LEC squads last year were outfielders Devin Warren (.369, 69 H, 15 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 15 SB) and Dylan Hapworth (.313, 11 2B, 8 HR, 26 RBI) return to the outfield and pitcher Gage Feeney (6-1, 3.41). First baseman Andrew Hillier (.324, 5 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 28 RBI) and shortstop Andrew Olszak (.307, 11 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 37 RBI) also hit above .300 as sophomores.

Eastern Connecticut (25-16) was the runner-up to Boston in the postseason and returns the league’s top strikeout pitcher in Jordan Muchin (5-4, 3.14, 72 K, 71.2 IP) for his senior season, while third baseman Alex Parkos (.329, 11 2B, 6 HR, 43 RBI) ranked higher in the LEC than any non-Beacon with 43 RBI. Rhode Island College (20-15) finished in the top half of the race for the first time since 2015 and looks to keep climbing under first-year head coach Frank Holbrook. The Anchormen return first baseman Tyler Walsh (.368, 11 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 32 RBI), who transferred from Wheaton, but a 6.80 team ERA will have to improve.

Plymouth State (16-19) and UMass Dartmouth (25-15) grabbed the final two playoff spots a season ago. Dartmouth had a significant NCAA case despite opening league play with seven straight losses. The Corsairs’ successes were thanks in large part to the dominance of Matt Cronin, the reigning New England Pitcher of the Year who posted six wins, a 0.99 ERA, 67 strikeouts, and allowed the fourth-fewest hits per nine innings (4.95) in the country last season. The Corsairs also welcome back Nate Tellier (.382, 13 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 19 SB; 1-1, 5.87, 13 K, 15.1 IP) who joined Plymouth State’s Josh Goulet (.302, 7 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 20 SB) in the All-LEC Second Team outfield. Keene State (15-19) and Western Connecticut (16-19) finished on the outside of the postseason picture, though the Colonials had an All-LEC outfielder in now-senior Kyle MacLean (.366, 7 2B, 4 HR, 23 RBI).

There is a new challenger in the Little East this season as Castleton (30-12) joins the fold after winning five consecutive North Atlantic Conference titles. First baseman/pitcher Davis Mikell (.371, 12 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 36 RBI; 0-1, 2.45, 1 SV, 17 K, 14.2 IP) followed up his sophomore year with a summer in the New England Collegiate League and joins standout outfielder Dillon Benham (.348, 14 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 31 RBI) and pitcher Joe Gratton (8-3, 3.04, 50 K, 56.1 IP) in returning to the Spartan roster.

Team to beat: UMass Boston

Anthony Crowley tied the Westfield State record for
home runs in a season, and was one RBI shy of the
school's season mark.

Westfield State athletics photo

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference: Westfield State (24-18-1) has won four conference regular-season titles in this decade but got over the championship hump for the first time since 2009. Anthony Crowley (.373, 14 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 55 RBI) and John Gegetskas (8-1, 2.29, 2 SV, 5 CG, 86 K, 74.2 IP) were last season’s MASCAC Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. Crowley is New England’s top returning home run hitter and paced the region in RBI and slugging last year, while Gegetskas was the top strikeout pitcher in addition to leading the league in wins. Third baseman Brett Dooley (.326, 11 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI) joined his aforementioned teammates on the All-MASCAC First Team and returns to an experienced club.

Mass Maritime (18-15) provided the Owls with a stiff challenge as the league’s second-place finisher for the second time in three years. The Buccaneers do lose three All-MASCAC seniors, but John Teehan (4-3, 2.40, 3 SV, 4 CG, 63 K, 56.1 IP) was impressive on the mound right from the start as he became the Academy’s first Rookie of the Year since graduated batterymate Logan Sullo in 2015. Framingham State (21-19) played Westfield to the end of the league’s postseason and has second baseman Anthony Venuti (.273, 4 2B, 3 HR, 21 RBI) and outfielder Aaron Williams (.378, 7 2B, 23 RBI, 25 SB) returning with hopes of building upon the program’s winningest season in three years under new head coach and alumnus Sean Callahan.

The champion three times since 2013, Salem State (21-19) has Kyle O'Connor (.338, 8 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB) back in the outfield after helping the Vikings post a league-leading .309 team batting average. The champion three times since 2013, Salem State (21-19) has Joe White (.340, 4 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 25 RBI) back in the outfield after helping the Vikings post a league-leading .309 team batting average. Brock Riley (7-2, 3.66, 4 SV, 3 CG, 56 K, 51.2 IP) earned himself a late-summer stint with the Chatham Anglers of the prestigious Cape Cod League after tying for second in the MASCAC in wins and first in saves last spring. Fitchburg State (13-17-2) benefited from Ryan Towle’s (5-2, 1.53, 67 K, 59 IP) outstanding freshman season on the mound, while All-MASCAC First Team utility player Logan Rumbolt (.376, 8 2B, 15 RBI) was key for MCLA (13-15-1) as it rounded out the league’s postseason field.

Worcester State (12-26) struggled after its surprise championship run in 2017, but first baseman Ben Palatino (.356, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 16 SB) followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign by earning a bump up to the All-MASCAC First Team. Designated hitter Michael Ferrara (.348, 6 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 31 RBI) was also an offensive leader for the Lancers, while Jake Breton (.333, 4 2B, 3 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI) was named to the Second Team as a rookie utility player. Bridgewater State (5-22) looks to first baseman Sean Casey (.312, 3 2B, 12 RBI) as an offensive leader after the Bears’ top four hitters graduated, while senior Colin Josselyn (0-3, 3.22) and junior Jacob Robbins (2-3, 6.16) the pitching staff.

Team to beat: Westfield State

Mitchell has won an average of 30 games a year
over the last four years.

Mitchell athletics photo

New England Collegiate Conference: Mitchell (31-10) won this league’s title for the fourth time in five years after outlasting Lesley (27-11) by a game during the regular season. From an individual perspective, this league will look a bit different with, among others, its Player of the Year (Mitchell’s Kyle Hartenstein) and Pitcher of the Year (Lesley’s Tom Muratore, respectively), and leading hitter (Mitchell’s Garet Griffin) gone to graduation.

Lesley designated hitter Ryan Pumphret (.387, 12 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 39 RBI) is the NECC’s top returner as he led the circuit in home runs and ranked third in batting average, while his Lynx catcher Jacob Cervantes (.282, 3 2B, 11 RBI) was also a First Team All-Conference honoree. The Mariners return a quartet of the league’s top players from last season despite the aforementioned losses, including two First Team picks in pitcher Jakari Pellegrini (5-0, 2.65, 57 K, 54.1 IP) and outfielder Eric Marriott (.377, 4 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 13 SB).

No other team finished above .500 with either of its records, but Elms (12-26) came the closest as the league’s third-place finisher and will have a strong crew atop the rotation with seniors Thomas Owens (3-4, 2.84, 4 CG, 62 K, 63.1 IP) and junior Kevin Banas (2-3, 4.55, 22 K, 29.2 IP; .210, 2 HR, 12 RBI). Dean (12-26-1) had Will Kulcher (.381, 16 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 14 SB) and Gaten Davis (2-2, 5.57, 1 SV, 3 CG, 40 K, 42 IP) as key contributors as rookies last season, while catcher William Negron (.326, 7 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 19 RBI) served in the same role for a Becker (12-23) team that had seven different players hit 11 home runs.

Newbury (12-23) had NECC Rookie of the Year Javi Martinez (.366, 10 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 30 RBI) and Second Team outfielder David Center (.339, 14 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 28 RBI) leading the league’s second-best offense a year ago. Southern Vermont (9-20) rounded out the league last season and looks to replace two All-NECC performers in the lineup. Eastern Nazarene (17-19) welcomes back a Second Team All-CCC utility player in senior Zachary Carmody (.333, 12 2B, 20 RBI) as well as senior reliever Xavier Faria (4-1, 4.58).

Evan Delaney was named the NAC Player of the
Year in 2017 after winning the NAC triple crown,
batting .391 with 41 RBI and 9 HR
New England College athletics photo

New England College (26-15) look to make an immediate impact in its new conference after losing in the North Atlantic title round to Castleton in back-to-back seasons. The Pilgrims return the last two NAC Players of the Year in third baseman Xavier Nunez (.403, 13 2B, 4 HR, 43 RBI) and outfielder Evan Delaney (.328, 6 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 28 SB) as well as reigning NAC Pitcher of the Year Nick Powers (8-0, 0.99, 2 SV, 5 CG, 64 K, 63.2 IP) and New England Rookie of the Year Shayne Audet (6-3, 2.38, 1 SV, 3 CG, 85 K, 56.2 IP) on the mound. Audet was a Futures Collegiate League All-Star for the North Shore Navigators over the summer.

Team to beat: Mitchell

New England Small College Athletic Conference: Last spring’s NESCAC standings were tight pretty much all throughout as seven teams won at least 15 games and three at least hit the 20 mark, but it turned out to be a pair of usual frontrunners meeting for the title and Amherst (24-14) earning its first since 2013. The Mammoths have Second Team All-Conference catcher Severino Simeone (.243, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI) returning, while sophomore Joseph Palmo (.314, 3 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI, 7 SB) and senior Nick Nardone (.280, 9 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 25 RBI) are returning regulars. Seniors Davis Brown (5-3, 4.59) and Andrew Ferrero (4-3, 2.21) will be leaders at the front of the pitching staff, while Mike Dow (0-1, 1.33, 18 K, 20.1 IP) was the NESCAC leader in saves with seven.

Tufts (20-17) was the class of the East Division for the fifth consecutive spring and will again have the services of All-NESCAC senior R.J. Hall (5-3, 2.88, 54 K, 59.1 IP) atop the rotation. The Jumbos were the lone New England team to average over nine runs per game in 2018 but a combined 18 homers and 126 RBI belonged to the graduated trio of reigning Player of the Year Malcolm Nachmanoff and stalwart corner infielders Nick Falkson and Tommy O’Hara. Seniors John Moschella (.340, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 27 RBI), Casey Santos-Ocampo (.291, 32 R, 9 2B, 1 HR, 23 RBI), and junior Elias Varinos (.282, 4 2B, 18 RBI) all return to the infield after each scored at least 18 runs and drove in 15 more. Hall is the veteran moundsman, but junior Spencer Langdon (5-0, 2.00) and Brent Greeley (5-3, 2.56, 3 CG) are back after posting two of the top five ERAs in the NESCAC.

It’s hard to find a more experienced team than Wesleyan (22-16) in the entire region. The Cardinals return the entire lineup that ranked second in the NESCAC with a .298 batting average last season, trailing Tufts for the league lead by one point. Two of the league’s best outfielders return to Middletown, Conn., in junior Alex Cappitelli (.376, 7 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 22 RBI) and senior Danny Rose (.361, 15 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 24 RBI). It’s more of the same on the mound, too, as senior lefty Mike McCaffrey (2-4, 5.60, 57 K, 53 IP) and junior Alec Olmstead (5-3, 4.56, 51 K, 51.1 IP) were two of the leading strikeout pitchers in the NESCAC and join second-year southpaw Kelvin Sosa (4-3, 3.09, 49 K, 46.2 IP) atop the rotation. Ryan Earle (.255, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI; 3-1, 2.88, 5 SV) returns as a senior two-way player after posting a handful of saves.

A group of three teams were tied in the middle of the East standings. After grabbing the division’s second playoff spot, Bates (14-19) returns First Team All-NESCAC catcher Jack Arend (.253, 6 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBI) and its leading run producer from a spring ago in veteran first baseman Dan Trulli (.267, 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 28 RBI). Junior Nolan Collins (3-2, 2.75, 1 CG, 47 K, 52.1 IP) and senior Justin Foley (2-4, 5.08, 28 K, 39 IP) are back as starters after competing in the Futures League during the summer. Bowdoin (16-17) looks to junior second baseman Eric Mah (.358, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 10 SB) to lead the offense, while Brandon Lopez (4-1, 3.74, 2 CG, 32 K, 43 IP; .250, 12 RBI) and Ben Osterholtz (4-2, 4.81) are veteran arms. Trinity (18-15) is looking to avoid missing the postseason for a third straight season with shortstop Matt Koperniak (.388, 9 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 9 SB) back after earning All-NESCAC First Team honors as a sophomore, while senior Erik Mohl (3-4, 3.67) and junior Alex Shafer (5-3, 2.57, 2 CG) pace the pitching staff.

Colby Morris earned NESCAC Pitcher of the Year
honors in 2018.

Middlebury athletics photo

Middlebury (16-16) is the only team with two All-NESCAC First Team performers returning in Pitcher of the Year Colby Morris (5-4, 1.68, 4 CG, 53 K, 64.1 IP) and second baseman Justin Han (.369, 7 2B, 1 3B, 20 RBI, 22 SB). Morris joined Salem State’s Brock Riley for a Cape Cod League stint with Chatham late in the summer. Han’s third-year classmate Brooks Carroll (.299, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 17 SB) also returns and was the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year last spring after making only five errors in 136 chances at shortstop.

Williams (9-21) had a senior start on the mound in only one of its 30 games, and the battle-tested staff gets an even bigger boost with 2017 NESCAC Pitcher of the Year John Lamont returning from injury. George Carroll (1-3, 4.23, 1 SV) made a team-high seven starts in Lamont’s absence, while senior Jack Bohen and junior Charlie Carpenter were both three-game winners. Mike Stamas (.321, 6 2B, 1 HR, 13 RBI; 0-0, 5.17, 11 K, 15.2 IP) was an All-NESCAC Second Team utility player, while shortstop Kellen Hatheway (.228, 10 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI) is coming off a .311 summer with six homers and 28 RBI for the Futures League’s Martha’s Vineyard Sharks.

Hamilton (17-17) tied the Ephs at the bottom of the West and welcomes back senior Ian Nish (1-0, 0.45, 6 SV, 20 K, 20 IP) and sophomore Matt Zaffino (.359, 7 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 22 RBI) from the All-NESCAC Second Team. Jarrett Lee (.305, 5 2B, 2 3B, 13 RBI) was also a plus-.300 hitter for the Continentals. Colby (7-25) had several players who were strong in limited action, but third baseman William Wessman (.284, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 17 RBI) was the team’s second-leading run producer as an everyday-playing sophomore. The Mules also have Will Phillips (.317, 5 2B, 3 3B, 11 RBI, 10 SB) and Andrew Russell (.300, 6 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 12 RBI) back from last season’s group of 18 underclassmen. Frank Driscoll (1-1, 3.72, 1 SV, 37 K, 29 IP) was impressive as a first-year pitcher.

Team to beat: Wesleyan

New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference: Four of the eight NEWMAC teams won at least 23 games a year ago, but it was Babson (35-12) finishing at the top and making a deep NCAA run for the second consecutive year. The Beavers should be a top New England threat once again with senior All-NEWMAC southpaw Michael Genaro (9-1, 3.10, 58 K, 3 BB, 52.2 IP) topping the starting rotation and shortstop Brian McHale (.339, 15 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 11 SB) among a group of six .300-hitting returners. That depth should help make up for the loss of former All-American designated hitter Ryan Arena. Junior center fielder Jake Oliger (.320, 10 2B, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 10 SB) was the second-leading run producer on an offense that led New England with 509 hits a year ago. Connor Gill (.294, 8 2B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 5 SB; 6-2, 3.31) and Edward Lehr (.346, 8 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBI; 2-2, 4.13, 20 K, 28.1 IP) both serve in valuable two-way roles, regularly playing on the infield and pitching. Jordy Allard transfers from Division 2 power Southern New Hampshire to add even more depth to the pitching staff.

Wheaton (Mass.) junior catcher Nick Raposo was
named to the Preseason
All-American second-team.
Wheaton (Mass.) athletics photo

Though its postseason was shortened as compared to the previous year’s miraculous run to Appleton, Wheaton (23-17) found itself right in the thick of the NEWMAC race and competing with Babson for the East Division title in 2018. The Lyons have plenty of weapons back on the field with Preseason All-American catcher Nick Raposo (.434, 69 H, 19 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 39 RBI) looking to follow up a sophomore season during which he was the top hitter in all of New England and then a Futures League All-Star performance with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks. Gavin Reily (5-0, 1.31, 51 K, 51.2 IP) became the first-ever Wheaton pitcher to win NEWMAC Rookie of the Year.

Clark (26-13) loses All-NEWMAC stalwarts Kyle Bonicki and Teddy Downing from last season’s West Division title-winning club. However, the Cougars welcome back three other .300 hitters return in corner infielders Nick Jordan (.347, 12 2B, 1 HR, 27 RBI) and Zach Kelley (.343, 12 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 36 RBI) as well as outfielder Chris Radovic (.315, 6 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 20 RBI), the latter as only a sophomore. Seniors Cal Slepkow (6-2, 3.55) and Dan Shaw (5-1, 2.52, 2 SV) anchor the pitching staff. Springfield (23-14-2) finished two games behind Clark in the division but made a great jump to its first 20-win campaign since 2014. The Pride returns a strong pair of southpaws in junior Shawn Babineau (5-2, 1.59, 55 K, 56.2 IP) and senior Brian Johnson (3-2, 2.18, 53 K, 53.2 IP), speedy center fielder Chad Shade (.331, 8 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 32 SB), and second baseman Mark Joao (.336, 8 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 34 RBI).

The East was a three-horse race with MIT (19-14) following right behind the Beavers and Lyons. Casey Bussone (2-1, 1.29, 35 K, 42 IP) owned the league’s top ERA as a freshman, while classmate Ethan Rolland (.331, 3 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBI) was an everyday player on the infield following the graduation of All-American shortstop Austin Filiere. Power-hitting outfielder Matt Johnston (.250, 3 2B, 7 HR, 19 RBI) returns after playing in all 56 summer games for the Futures League’s Brockton Rox.

Coast Guard (11-18) returns outfielder Luke Thompson (.381, 6 2B, 18 RBI, 7 SB) and catcher Jeremy Lhkota (.365, 8 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 21 RBI) as seniors, while junior Jon Pressley (.311, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 24 RBI) and senior Will Stephens (.310, 7 2B, 2 3B, 12 RBI) were also .300 hitters as infielders. WPI (13-22) rounded out the West side last year, but Worcester’s Engineers have an All-NEWMAC performer back in junior outfielder Tyrone Patterson (.329, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 32 RBI, 11 SB). Senior Steven Gallagher (.326, 8 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 29 RBI) has been a regular at shortstop since he first put on a WPI uniform, while his classmates Doug Rives (2-2, 6.64) and Tyler Weiss (3-3, 5.45) were two of the team’s regular arms. Emerson (7-24) loses its top three hitters and a top starting pitcher, but workhorse Jack Fox (1-7, 4.07, 49 K, 59.2 IP) does return to the mound. The Lions also bring back infielder Joe Paladino (.232, 6 RBI) as a fellow junior.

Team to beat: Babson

Northern Vermont-Lyndon pitcher Jake Jourdain
prepared for his senior season with a stint this
summer with the Vermont Mountaineers.
NVU-Lyndon athletics photo

North Atlantic Conference: The NAC has five teams after the departure of Castleton, Colby-Sawyer, and New England College, and arrival of Maine-Presque Isle, so the league champion will meet the City University of New York Athletic Conference champion in a three-game series for an automatic NCAA bid in 2019 and 2020.

Northern Vermont-Lyndon (20-20) finished with the best NAC record among the returning teams and has four All-Conference players back in the fold. Sophomore catcher Ryder Thorton (.464, 3 2B, 1 3B, 13 RBI), junior outfielder Codi Smith (.368, 9 2B, 7 3B, 32 RBI), and junior utility player Jason Doris (.330, 7 2B, 10 RBI) are all back in the lineup, while senior James Mundy (5-4, 3.25, 40 K, 55.1 IP) tops the pitching staff. Chase Malloy (.321, 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 9 SB) returns after leading Maine-Farmington (13-21) as a sophomore third baseman. Gavin Arsenault (4-4, 5.17, 39 K, 47 IP) was the Beavers’ top starting pitcher.

Outfielder Luke Covey (.193, 5 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBI) was one of five Husson (14-22) juniors to appear in every game last season. Shortstop Nick Guerrette (.311, 2 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 11 SB) was the Eagles’ leading hitter, and junior Jesse Colford (0-6, 2.95, 5 CG, 33 K, 42.2 IP) paced the pitching staff. Thomas (8-30) will look to improve upon its region-worst .214 batting average without first baseman Alex Curtis leading the offense, but senior Hank Vinall brings back 10 RBI. Dylan Copeland (4-1, 4.09, 2 CG) led the Terrier arms as a freshman.

Maine-Presque Isle (4-28) joins the league and returns CUNYAC All-Star shortstop Ryan Sanderson (.324, 13 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 16 RBI) as a senior.

Team to beat: Northern Vermont-Lyndon

Independents: The Pine Manor (8-18) roster was laden with freshmen during its first varsity season in 2018, but Randal Adams (.270, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 27 RBI) was by far the team’s top run producer. Armando Maldonado (2-1, 2.65, 29 K, 17 IP) led the Gator pitchers.

Brandeis (3-25) managed only one win in the competitive University Athletic Association a year ago but six players who recorded at least 10 RBI last season return. All were freshmen or sophomores, including Victor Oppenheimer (.280, 6 2B, 1 HR, 13 RBI) and Mike Khoury (.309, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI). Mason Newman earned two wins on the mound, while junior Greg Tobin logged the other and averaged a strikeout per inning over a team-high 47.