February 26, 2013

Baseball Picked Seventh In CCC Pre-Season Poll

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Western New England University has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2013 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Baseball Championship, it was announced today by Commissioner Gregg M. Kaye.

Voting for the preseason poll was conducted among the league's head baseball coaches.

Five-time defending CCC champion Western New England (38-13 overall, 15-1 CCC) received seven of a possible nine first place votes in the 2013 CCC preseason poll. Endicott College (29-16, 12-4) was selected to finish second, while acquiring the two remaining first place votes. The runner up from last year, Roger Williams University (17-27, 7-9) was picked to finish third, while Curry College (18-24, 12-4) and Salve Regina University (14-27, 6-10) were slated to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.

With the core of a team that came within a game of a return trip to the NCAA Division III College World Series back, Western New England has high expectations for 2013. The Golden Bears return seven starters among 23 lettermen, plus four starting pitchers, off last season's team that compiled a 38-13 overall record, 15-1 CCC mark, swept the conference regular season and tournament championships and were the NCAA New England Regional runner-up. Preseason All-Americans senior third baseman Mike Rubino, senior second baseman Tim Clark, junior pitcher Brendan Nugent, junior outfielder Jeff Schult and sophomore pitcher Trevor Breton lead a squad that is nationally ranked No. 15 in the D3baseball.com poll and No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. That quintet, plus senior outfielder Matt Anthonis and senior shortstop Kyle McKelvey, were all-conference selections a year ago. Two-time reigning CCC Coach of the Year Matt LaBranche (395-174, .694) is in his 14th year at the helm and is five wins away from 400 for his career.

The Endicott Gulls are the two-time defending champions of the ECAC Division III New England baseball tournament, but are focused on winning the CCC title and returning to the NCAA Regional tournament for the first time since 2006. Head coach Bryan Haley's offensive fire-power starts in a speedy outfield, where it will return starters Tad Gold and team captain Colin Sitarz. Sitarz, a graduate student, is on pace to become the career leader in several offensive categories in his final season, and he and Gold are both coming off of First Team All-CCC selections a year ago. The rotation will also feature an All-Conference selection and grad student in Mike Nich, who needs five wins to become the Endicott career leader.

The Roger Williams baseball team looks to make another run at the CCC Championship this coming season. After struggling last year in the regular season, the Hawks caught fire in the CCC Tournament, advancing to the championship finals as the #4 seed before falling to top-seeded Western New England. With key returners in junior pitcher Sean Boyle and senior outfielder John Oppenhimer, both of whom received All CCC honors in the 2012 season, head coach Derek Carlson will look to improve the Hawks 2012 record of 17-27.

Curry head coach Dave Perdios retired after the 2010 season after 12 years at the helm. He is now back for his 13th season after a two-year hiatus. The Colonels will be led by a trio of seniors, all of whom earned 2012 All-CCC honors. They include first-team OF Sam Barron (.342, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 13-19 SB-SBA), second-team OF Shayne McDonald (.297, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 12-15 SB-SBA), and second-team C Matt Rodriguez (.264, 5 HR, 29 RBI). Curry's pitching staff will once again be anchored by sophomore starter Thomas Fitzpatrick (4-2, 3.13 ERA, 54.2 IP).

Salve Regina will re-introduce their father-son coaching combination as 13-year head coach Steve Cirella welcomes back his son, Eric, as associate head coach. The younger Cirella, an assistant with the program in 2006 when the Seahawks won a school-record 32 games, will assume head coaching responsibilities in 2014. Dan Kehew, a senior, was selected as a captain along with two of his junior teammates, catcher Dominic Di Sano and infielder Daniel Donohue. The Seahawk outfield will be full of talent with Ryan Sweenor, Ryan Kelly, Tyler Colby, and Nick Dell'Anno.

After welcoming the largest recruiting class in program history, Gordon College (15-26, 7-9) third-year head coach John Rypel will combine a cast of veteran talent with a crop of talented newcomers to vie for a successful postseason run in 2013. Starting senior third baseman and pitcher Brian Harrington, named a "Player to Watch" by Collegiate Baseball Magazine, will be at the helm of the Scots' effort after a successful 2012 season which landed him on the All-CCC Honorable Mention team. In 41 games-played, Harrington recorded 30 putouts, 61 assists, and nine errors for a .910 fielding percentage, accumulated a 6-1 overall record on the mound (3.18 ERA), and batted .392 on the year with 51 hits and 20 RBIs in 130 at-bats. Pitchers Ben Davidson, a senior, and Jacob Syed, a sophomore, return to head up the Scots' starting rotation, while senior Geoff Brown will resume his post behind the plate as Gordon's starting catcher. Carlos Pichardo also returns for his sophomore season after hitting two home runs and six doubles in his rookie 2012 debut.

After just missing out on a CCC Tournament berth in 2012, the Wentworth Institute of Technology (15-21, 6-10) baseball team returns 14 letter winners, including its three top hitters and four key members of the pitching staff. Leading the way for ninth-year head coach Steve Studley is senior pitcher/outfielder Alex Wong, who earned All-CCC accolades a season ago at both positions (first team as an outfielder, second team as a pitcher). Wong batted .367 with nine doubles, five triples, a home run, 18 stolen bases, and 25 RBI as a junior, and, making 10 appearances on the hill (eight starts) was 2-5 with a 2.44 earned run average and an opponents' batting average of .215. Junior Jon Spitz switches from second base to shortstop this year, a year after he batted .323 with five doubles, 17 stolen bases, and 16 RBI, en route to being selected All-CCC Honorable Mention. Sophomore catcher Jake Mailman, an honorable mention All-CCC selection as a rookie, returns after batting .274 with six doubles, a triple, and 20 RBI a season ago. Joining Wong as key returners on the mound will be sophomore Justin Voytek (2-1, two saves, 11 strikeouts in 13.2 innings in 2012), junior Ben Lewis (2-3, 23 strikeouts), and junior Dakota Baird (23 strikeouts in 29.2 innings). Baird will also see time at first base when not pitching.

Nichols College, under the tutelage of seventh-year head coach Joe Teixeira, looks to improve on an 8-23 finish last season (5-11 in CCC play). Senior Cody Jankins, the lone Bison baseball student-athlete with over 100 at-bats (103) last season, sported a .282 batting average and paced the Nichols Nine with 29 hits - 11 for extra bases, 20 RBI and 47 total bases. Second-year captain, senior Bryan Gill scored 21 runs, led the league with a .505 on base percentage and ranked sixth in the nation with 28 walks. Junior Tyler Shute registered a career-best 3.14 ERA and struck out a career-high 33 batters in 43 innings of work, including six complete games, to lead the Bison pitching staff.

Eastern Nazarene College (7-31, 2-14) is led by second-year manager B.J. Hampton. All-CCC first team selection Max Pugh leads the Lions' returners after belting a team-best four homers and driving in 22 RBIs last spring. Mike Chiaradio returns after earning All-CCC second team honors a year ago and pacing the Lions with 15 stolen bases. Anthony Berroa garnered All-CCC honorable mention in 2012 and sported a .355 batting average last season.

 

2013 CCC PRESEASON BASEBALL POLL

Teams received nine points for every first place vote received, eight points for second place votes, seven points for third place votes, down to one points for a last place vote.

 

TEAM

POINTS (1st Place Votes)

Western New England

77 (7)

Endicott

74 (2)

Roger Williams

62

Curry

51

Salve Regina

39

Gordon

37

Wentworth

31

Nichols

21

Eastern Nazarene

13


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