2008 Ivy League Preview

The CBB will be providing conference previews throughout the preseason. We start this week with the Ivy League. I know you would rather see us preview the ACC or SEC but I have a guilty pleasure for the Ivy League. It is very competitive baseball that is a must-see for a baseball junkie like myself. The Brown Bears won the Ivy League title with a two game sweep over the Penn Quakers. Brown ended up winning the Red Rolfe Division over Harvard by two games while Penn ended up winning the Lou Gehrig Division by only a single game over Princeton.

Red Rolfe Division

Brown (27-21 overall, 14-6 Ivy League)

Brown made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the inception of the program in 1863. Brown gave Texas a scare in their first game in the Round Rock Regional grabbing a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning before falling apart and losing 8-2. The Brown Bears then had to take on Wake Forest in a loser’s bracket game where the Bears lost 4-2 in a great pitching duel.

Pitching

Brown lost top starter Jeff Dietz who signed a professional contract which begins in the 2008 season. Dietz had a 9-4 record and a 2.81 ERA. The Bears lost number 2 starter James Cramphin who graduated after starting 13 games accumulating a 6-4 record with a 4.80 ERA. The Bears return sophomore pitcher Will Weidig who had a 4-2 record with one save in 12 appearances (six starts). Rob Hallberg is the other top pitcher returning to the Bears but had a 2-0 record with a 6.04 ERA.

Offense

The Bears led the Ivy League in hitting coming in at a .318 clip. They lost home run leader and catcher Devin Thomas to graduation. He hit 16 homers in the 2007 campaign with a .372 average which was second on the team. The Bears bring back their top hitter in Ryan Murphy who hit .410 in 45 games. He stole eleven bases in 16 attempts. Junior Matt Nuzzo hit .371 which was good enough for the third spot on the 2007 team. Junior Robert Papenhouse (.302 BA), J.J. Eno (.309 BA) and Steve Daniels (.273 BA) are the only other regular starters returning to the 2007 team.

Outlook

Brown will be trying to contend with Harvard and Yale for the Red Rolfe Division title but have too many holes to fill in their rotation and need to replace All-Ivy League catcher of the Year in Devin Thomas. The loss of Dietz is the biggest since he was almost unhittable in the top spot in the rotation and had a very serviceable bat.

Harvard (18-18 overall, 12-8 Ivy League)

The Harvard Crimson had a disappointing season by going 18-18 overall and 12-8 in the conference which saw them not in the Ivy League Championship series for only the second time in the past five years. The Crimson only finished two games behind the Brown Bears but could not make up the difference in the final weekend of the year.

Pitching

The Harvard Crimson finished the season as the top pitching team in the Ivy League with a 4.37 ERA. They lose Max Perlman (not on 2008 roster) but return the rest of the staff. Brad Unger and Shawn Haviland should compete for the ace spot in the rotation with Eric Eadington expected to become a regular in the weekend rotation. Unger ended up going 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 10 appearances with 39.1 innings pitched. Haviland went 3-3 with a 4.26 ERA with two complete games including a shutout. Eric Eadington comes back after a strong 2007 season which saw him go 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in six starts. The Crimson need get get some freshman and newcomers to round out the bullpen.

Offense

The Crimson lost third baseman Steffan Wilson as he signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers this summer. Brendan Byrne who started 35 games at second base and starting catcher Andrew Casey to graduation. The Crimson return the rest of their lineup led by Matt Vance and Brendan Byrne. Vance hit in the lead-off role in 2007 where he finished second of the team in average with a .341 average which was second best to number 2 hitter Brendan Byrne who hit .342. Vance led the team with 12 steals in 15 attempts and also tied Wilson for the team lead in homers with 3. Matt Rogers finished second on the team in stolen bases with 11 in 17 attempts.

Outlook

The Crimson should be right in the middle of the hunt for the Red Rolfe division with their arch-rival Yale Bulldogs. The Crimson need to find a few more arms in the bullpen to solidify the pitching staff. Head Coach Joe Walsh will find some players to fill into the holes left by the graduation of Brendan Byrne and Steffan Wilson.

Yale (16-27 overall, 8-12 Ivy League)

The Yale Bulldogs finished 16-27 overall and 8-12 in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs are led by Ryan Lavarnway who led the entire nation in hitting at .467. He was named to multiple All-American teams and has been named to the 2008 Wallace Watch List.

Pitching

The Bulldogs finished second to last in the Ivy League with a 6.74 ERA. They did not have one pitcher on the team that finished above .500 with Brandon Josselyn leading the squad with a 3-4 record and an ERA of 4.83. He pitched in 11 games starting eight games including four complete games. Stefan Schropp (3-4, 5.76 ERA) and Steve Gilman (3-5, 6.84 ERA) return to the rotation. The Bulldogs will look to replace Chris Wietlispach who has graduated after having a horrible season which saw him go 2-5 with a 7.66 ERA.

Offense

Yale finished four in hitting with a .286 average. Besides Lavarnway leading the country in hitting, Josh Cox is the top returning hitter. Cox hit .324 with 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts. The Bulldogs need to get some more quality hitters into the lineup for the 2008 season as the CBB saw them look horrible at Harvard last season. They were not very displined at the plate and seemed to be having a tough day against a decent pitching Crimson team.

Outlook

If Yale can find some starting pitching for the season that can give them quality innings, they could be in the hunt for the Ivy League title as they have one of the best players in the Ivy League and the northeast in Ryan Lavarnway.

Dartmouth (8-29-1 overall, 5-15 Ivy League)

The Big Green had the worst season in the Ivy League in 2007 with a 8-29-1 overall record and 5-15 in the Ivy League. Dartmouth was the worst team in the Ivy League in pitching and hitting which is a good indication of how bad of a baseball club they were in 2007.

Pitching

The top returning pitcher for the Big Green is Senior left-hander Russell Young who went 2-5 with a 4.03 ERA. He started in nine games while throwing four complete games. His brother Robert Young had a tough 2007 season as he struggled with a 1-7 record and a 6.06 ERA in ten appearances including seven starts. Kyle Zeis made 14 appearances out of the bullpen while having a 1-0 record and a 4.10 ERA. The Dartmouth pitching staff has to do a better job giving them solid starts before running the bullpen into the ground.

Offense

Dartmouth returns their top three hitters from the 2007 team. The top hitter in 2007 was Nick Santomauro who led the team with a .395 average. The other two top hitters who are coming back in 2008 are James Wren (.308 BA) and Damon Wright (.303 BA). The entire Big Green team had only 61 hits for the entire season including only eight homers for the entire team.

Outlook

Dartmouth needs to step it up on the mound and at the plate if they expect to compete in a very strong Red Rolfe division. The hitting and pitching is atrocious for a Division 1 team.

Prediction

1. Harvard
2. Yale
3. Brown
4. Dartmouth

Any of the top three teams could make a case for winning the division but Dartmouth does not have the talent to compete with the big 3.

Lou Gehrig Division

Penn (20-19 overall, 12-8 Ivy League)

The Penn Quakers had a very good 2007 season as they went 20-19 overall with a 12-8 record in the conference. Penn ended up finishing only a game ahead of second place Princeton to get the bid into the Ivy League Championship series.

Pitching

The Quakers ended up getting two stud freshmen pitchers in 2007 with Todd Roth and Jim Birmingham. Roth ended up being named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team and named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Roth had a 6-2 record with a 1.98 ERA in 13 games including nine starts. Birmingham had a solid freshman season as he went 4-2 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 appearances and 11 starts. The Quakers will need to fill the other two spots in the rotation with some solid arms if they want to win the Lou Gehrig division for the second straight season.

Offense

The Quakers return four out of their top five hitters in 2008. The only player to graduate is Joey Boaen who finished fourth on the team with .310 batting average. Kyle Armeny returns for his senior season after leading the Quakers in hitting at .326 and in homers with eight on the season. Alex Nwaka finished second with a .324 average including leading the team with nine stolen bases. Jarron Smith (.319 BA) and Tim May (.295 BA) round out the other two hitters returning to the squad.

Outlook

Penn should compete for the divisional title with Princeton. They have the best two sophomore pitchers in the conference and they can only get better then they were in 2007.

Princeton (15-24 overall, 11-9 Ivy League)

The Princeton Tigers had a disappointing season going 15-24 overall and 11-9 in the Ivy League. Princeton finished the season as the second best batting average in the conference at .290. They had a middle of the road pitching staff as they accumulated a team ERA of 5.56.

Pitching

The Princeton pitching staff was led in 2006 by Christian Staehely who went 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA. He followed that with a horrible 2007 campaign which saw him go 0-6 with a 6.20 ERA. David Hale is the top returning pitcher for the Tigers. He went 3-2 with a 4.71 ERA. The Tigers lose top pitcher Eric Walz to graduation as he went 3-1 with a 4.11 ERA. The Tigers need to get some help in the bullpen as they only recorded three saves in 24 games.

Offense

The Tigers had the second best batting average as a team in the Ivy League coming in at a .290 clip. The Tigers top hitter in 2007 was Sal Iacano who hit at a .413 clip but he graduated after the season. Spencer Lucian is the top returning hitter as he hit .331 in 2007. Greg Van horn is coming back after a very successful freshman year in 2007 which saw him .323 with four homers.

Outlook

The Tigers should be back in the hunt for the divisional title in 2008 pushing on the Quakers for the top spot. The Tigers need to get Christian Staehely settled down to have a good senior season which can mirror his 2006 campaign.

Columbia (16-28 overall, 10-10 Ivy League)

Columbia had a respectable year in the Ivy League going 10-10 but suffered with an overall record of 16-28. The Columbia program has put in a new Fieldturf surface at Andy Coakley Field which will give the team a better playing surface during the early part of the season.

Pitching

Columbia had a tough season on the mound in 2007 with a 6.57 ERA. The top returning starting pitcher for the Lions is Senior John Baumann who went 5-2 with a 4.11 ERA. Senior pitcher Bill Purdy comes back as he went 5-4 with a 4.89 ERA. Henry Perkins had a tough 2007 season as he went 1-6 with a 5.50 ERA but had three complete games.

Offense

The Lions had a team batting average of .276 which was led by Junior first baseman Ron Williams who hit .374 in 43 games. Jake Summerhays hit .333 for the year to round out the top two returning hitters for the Lions. There was no other everyday starter with a batting average above .285.

Outlook

Columbia needs to get some quality hitters or they will continue to struggle in a very competitive league. The pitching is below caliber in the Ivy League as they really don’t have a shutdown ace or even a quality closer.

Cornell (15-23 overall, 8-12 Ivy League)

The Cornell Big Red had a 15-23 overall record with a 8-12 record in the Ivy League. Cornell is in a very tough position as they are stuck in upstate New York where the weather can still bitterly cold throughout early season workouts.

Pitching

Senior Walker Toma and Sophomore Tony Bertucci are the top two returning pitchers. Toma went 4-4 with a 6.04 ERA while Bertucci went 1-5 with a 6.27 ERA. The Big Red need to have some other pitchers step into the rotation as both of these players had horrible 2007 seasons.

Offense

The Big Red lost their top hitter in Justin Milo who hit an astounding .426 in 19 games. The top returning hitter is Nathan Ford who hit .338 in 38 games. He plays football in the fall where he has been the starting quarterback for the last two seasons. The only other hitter to hit over the .300 mark is Domenic Di Rocco who hit at .319.

Outlook

The Big Red are going to be a young team in 2008 after a tough season in 2007. They will have to develop a better hitting squad to become a contender for the Ivy League Championship.

Prediction

1. Penn
2. Princeton
3. Cornell
4. Columbia

The winner of this division should be Penn based on their strong pitching staff but if Staehely can come back strong for the Tigers it would not be out of the imagination that Princeton could grab the divisional title.

Photo courtesy of The Ivy League

  • bckstop

    It’s nice to hear something about the Ivy league, period. Even though these players compete at the D-1 level, their commitment is a little different than your regular D-1 player. To compare any of these teams or players to the standards of D-1 baseball is a litlle unfair. There are some quality players in the league, but overall you go to these schools for other reasons, than to play baseball.
    Also, to say that any of these teams can not compete for a division title is incorrect. In this league, 1 or 2 players can make an immediate impact, and you can go from 4th to 1st in one season. Just as an injury or two can drop you from 1st to 4th in no time, since depth is what these teams do lack.
    You seemed to be a little harsh on Dartmouth, I’m picking them to be my surprise team in the Ivy League.
    Keep up the good work.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    I know I should never say anything about a team not winning the division like Dartmouth. I wanted to go out on the edge a little bit with my predictions. Worse that can happen is that I am wrong. I have just one opinion.

  • djbfootball

    With Brown making the Round Rock Regional. I was able to see first hand what a good quality product the ivy League Produces. I saw this young man pitch (Dietz, Jeff……… 7.0 14 5 5 4 3 32 36 131) and he gave Texas fit that night.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Dietz might be able to make a run to a MLB team in the coming years with his sidearm delivery…It is great to hear that another one of my writers agrees about Dietz.

  • djbfootball
  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Be honest…Were you impressed with Brown? They were not an easy out for Wake or Texas.

  • djbfootball

    Brian,

    They were scrappy and hard nose BALL Players. They were playing for the Love of The Game.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com NYDORE

    Do you guys agree that the only thing holding the Ivy’s back when it comes to baseball is weather? It seems that they’d be able to offer a lot to college bound baseball players if only for a bit more global warming.

  • djbfootball

    NY,

    This has always confused me about this argument about the North School and the South Schools. The Maine Bears were in the CWS 7 times between ’64 and ’86. What did it get colder all of sudden.

    I think when you have a program like the Ivy League I think it is more along the lines of the higher academic standards across all the schools.

    Where you have a school like Rice Owls and they can compete against anybody because of the fact that they played in a conference that does not have the same type of Academias.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    I attended the Ivy League Championship last year down at Brown and a fight almost broke out between the teams in the second game as Penn hit like 4-5 players in two innings without a warning issued. I attended this game with my brother who was questioning why a warning was not issued and a bunch of Penn family members were like he is not trying to him them on purpose…That was not the point…Just look suspicious when you are losing by 10 plus runs and you are hitting a ton of batters.

    If you have a chance, Ivy League baseball facilities in general are nice and quaint but it is not life and death like it is in the ACC/SEC/ Big 12 level. The fans go to the games to see there friends play and just enjoy some college baseball.

    Harvard has an indoor practice facility that they can play FULL-field scrimmages on so they are playing games in the middle of January at Harvard Stadium.

  • CC93

    You really have to give all the athletes in the Ivies credit. When I would talk with other players from non ivy teams before a game they seemed to always ask about our academic life to compare it with their own. I remember as an athlete just to get a 2.75 GPA I was pulling two all nighters a week during the season. When we would be playing athletic oriented schools, a common reply was “man, that’s really hard. I barely go to class and give minimal effort and I get B’s”. The athletes get granted the degree in the end, but there really is no slack for the ivy athletes when it comes to the classroom. For me personally all that hard work and lack of sleep made my 9-5 schedule now feel like gold so it was a worthwhile endeavor.

  • Nitlion

    Don’t look now, but Dartmouth is 4-0 in the Ivy League. They’ve won 7 in a row, and have been scoring a ton of runs. They have some freshmen pitchers who are eating up innings. It’s early, but……

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Very early….Lets see if they can continue it.

  • Nitlion

    Well, It’s not early any more. Dartmouth wins the Rolfe Division of the Ivy League.

    These kids deserve more credit than you gave them in your pre-season write-up.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    I will be up there if they host next weekend