Louisville Unanimous Favorite To Win BIG EAST Baseball Championship

Courtesy: BIG EAST Conference

Courtesy: BIG EAST Conference

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Louisville, the 2008 BIG EAST tournament champion, has been unanimously chosen as the favorite to win the 2009 conference championship by the 12 BIG EAST head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams. In addition, Louisville swept both 2009 preseason individual honors. Junior third baseman Chris Dominguez was honored as Preseason Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, while junior Justin Marks was unanimously selected as Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

Louisville was the unanimous choice as the squad to beat in the 2009 season according to the league coaches. The Cardinals finished the 2008 season with a 16-11 BIG EAST record and the BIG EAST Championship title. UofL completed the ‘08 season with a 41-19 overall record and returned to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row where they were eliminated in the Athens, Ga., Regional.

Marks finished the 2008 season with a 9-2 record, a 2.37 ERA (91.0 IP / 24 ER) and held opponents to a .220 batting average. Marks also was selected to the All-BIG EAST First Team at the completion of the regular season and was named to the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament Team. In 2007, Marks was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. Dominguez, who shared the 2008 BIG EAST Player of the Year honor, completed the 2008 season ranking second on the team with a .365 batting average. The third baseman tied for the league lead in home runs (21), was second in slugging percentage (.687) and RBIs (75). In addition, Dominquez led the league in total bases (171). Following the 2008 BIG EAST Championship, Dominguez was named to the All-Tournament Team and received the Jack Kaiser Award as the most outstanding player. Junior catcher Jeff Arnold joins Marks and Dominguez on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Arnold did not commit an error throughout the 2008 season, throwing out 15 of 30 base stealers. Arnold batted .333 on the season and tallied 32 RBIs.

USF has been selected as the runner up to Louisville with 103 points. In 2008, the Bulls ended their season with a 31-27 overall record and a 14-13 BIG EAST record to qualify for the BIG EAST Championship. Representing USF on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team is sophomore outfielder Ryan Lockwood. Lockwood was selected to the All-BIG EAST First Team at the conclusion of the regular season. The outfielder hit .454 in conference games to become the first freshman to lead the BIG EAST in batting average.

Notre Dame was selected to finish third in the preseason poll with 99 points. The Fighting Irish ended the 2008 campaign with a 33-21-1 overall record and qualified for the BIG EAST Championship with a 16-10 conference record. Representing Notre Dame on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team are pitcher Eric Maust, second baseman Jeremy Barnes and outfielder A.J. Pollock. As the top returning pitcher for ND, Maust was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team after posting a 6-3 record and a 4.52 ERA (35 ER / 69.2 IP). Last season, Barnes ended the ’08 season with a .307 batting average with eight home runs and 50 RBI. Pollock is the returning centerfielder for Notre Dame. The junior was a first team All-BIG EAST selection following the regular season and led the Fighting Irish with a .352 batting average. The junior tallied 76 hits, 42 RBI and 15 doubles.

St. John’s, the 2008 BIG EAST regular season champion, was selected to place fourth in the 2009 season with 93 points. The Red Storm concluded the 2008 season with a 41-14 overall season and a 20-7 conference record. It was the fourth consecutive season that STJ reached the 40-win mark. The Red Storm received an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship.

Cincinnati earned 77 points to place fifth in the preseason poll. UC posted a 39-20 overall record in 2008 and a 19-8 record in conference play to qualify for the BIG EAST Championship. The Bearcats fell to Louisville 6-3 in their first ever Championship game. Last season, Cincinnati stole 133 bases in 169 attempts. It was the only league squad to top the 100 steals mark. Pitcher Michael Hill and outfielder Cameron Satterwhite were chosen to the All-BIG EAST Preseason Team. Hill posted a 6-4 record with a 3.46 ERA (31 ER / 80.2 IP) in 15 appearances. Satterwhite was a third team All-BIG EAST selection following the conclusion of the 2008 season. The senior hit .364 with 82 hits and 61 RBI. Satterwhite also ranked third in the conference in slugging percentage (.662), doubles (21), and home runs (14).

Connecticut, which ended the 2008 season with a 27-28 overall record and 11-16 conference record, was selected to finish sixth in the 2009 season with 62 points. Senior pitcher John Folino was named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Folino posted a 4-4 record last year, which was the most wins for any UConn pitcher in 2008. The righthanded pitcher ended the year with a 5.11 ERA (32 ER / 56.1 IP).

Right behind Connecticut with 60 points to place seventh is West Virginia. The Mountaineers completed the ’08 campaign with a 35-21 overall record and a 13-14 conference record to qualify for the BIG EAST Championship. Jedd Gyorko, the 2008 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, was selected to represent the Mountaineers on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team at shortstop. Last season, the sophomore was a catalyst behind West Virginia’s high-powered offense who hit .409 with eight home runs and 63 RBIs in the season. Gyorko finished the regular season ranked third in the BIG EAST in batting (.409), third in hits (95), fourth in RBIs (63), seventh in slugging (.612) and ninth in on-base percentage (.450).

Rutgers was picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll with 58 points. Last season, the Scarlet Knights finished with a 23-29-1 overall record and an 11-16 conference mark. First baseman Jaren Matthews represents Rutgers on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Last season, Matthews was the lone RU representative on the All-BIG EAST Team. Matthews earned third-team honors after hitting .294 with 37 runs scored and 54 RBIs. He hit 10 home runs and 11 doubles, the only Scarlet Knight to have double digits in both categories.

Seton Hall was selected to finish ninth with 49 points. The Pirates ended the ’08 season with 31-25 overall and qualified for the BIG EAST Championship with a 15-12 conference record. Seton Hall has two players named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Junior pitcher Sean Black and designated hitter Chris Affinito were selected to represent the Pirates. Black recorded a 3-3 record over 17 games and led the team with a 3.44 ERA (25 ER / 65.1 IP). The junior pitcher also ranked second on the team with 59 strikeouts and 65.1 innings pitched. Affinito led the Pirates with 10 home runs and drove in 40. The designated hitter finished second on the team with 38 runs scored and third with a .308 batting average.

Villanova was tabbed to finish 10th with 31 points after a 2008 campaign in which it finished 30-28 (12-15 BIG EAST). League coaches slotted Pittsburgh to finish 11th with 27 points following a 19-34 (7-19 BIG EAST) season. Georgetown rounds-out the preseason poll with 12 points after an 18-32 (7-20 BIG EAST) season.

The first weekend of the 2009 baseball season begins February 20, with the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge taking place in Florida. The first weekend of league play is March 20-22 with all 12 schools in action. The 2009 BIG EAST Baseball Championship will return to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., May 19-23, with the championship game to be televised on ESPNU.

Preseason BIG EAST Poll

Team Points (First Place) 2008 Overall 2008 BIG EAST
1. Louisville* 121 (11) 41-19 16-11
2. USF 103 31-27 14-13
3. Notre Dame 99 33-21-1 16-10
4. St. John’s 93 (1) 41-14 20-7
5. Cincinnati 77 23-11 19-8
6. Connecticut 62 27-28 11-16
7. West Virginia 60 35-21 13-14
8. Rutgers 58 23-29-1 11-16
9. Seton Hall 49 31-25 15-12
10. Villanova 31 30-28 12-15
11. Pittsburgh 27 19-34 7-19
12. Georgetown 12 18-32 7-20

Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year: Chris Dominguez, Jr., 3B, Louisville

Preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year: Justin Marks, Jr., LHP, Louisville*

Preseason All-BIG EAST Team

Pos. Name, Class, School Key 2008 Stats (All Games Played)
LHP Justin Marks, Jr., Louisville* 9-2 Record, 2.37 ERA, 14 GS, 0 CG, 0 ShO, 91.0 IP, 39 BB, 89 SO
RHP Eric Maust, Jr., Notre Dame 6-3 Record, 4.52 ERA, 10 GS, 0 CG, 0 ShO, 69.2 IP, 23 BB, 46 SO
RHP Michael Hill, Sr., Cincinnati 6-4 Record, 3.46 ERA, 12 GS, 3 CG, 0 ShO, 80.2 IP, 16 BB, 65 SO
RHP John Folino, Sr., Connecticut 4-4 Record, 5.11 ERA, 7 GS, 0 CG, 0 ShO, 56.1 IP, 12 BB, 39 SO
RHP Sean Black, Jr., Seton Hall 3-3 Record, 3.44 ERA, 8 GS, 1 CG, 1 ShO, 65.1 IP, 30 BB, 59 SO
C Jeff Arnold, Jr., Louisville .333 avg., 183 AB, 39 R, 61 H, 14 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 12 SB
1B Jaren Matthews, So., Rutgers .294 avg., 214 AB, 37 R, 63 H, 11 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 8 SB
2B Jeremy Barnes, Sr., Notre Dame .307 avg., 199 AB, 40 R, 61 H, 15 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 3 SB
3B Chris Dominguez, Jr., Louisville .365 avg., 249 AB, 68 R, 91 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 11 SB
SS Jedd Gyorko, So., West Virginia .409 avg., 232 AB, 62 R, 95 H, 17 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 4 SB
OF Ryan Lockwood, So., USF .415 avg., 193 AB, 44 R, 80 H,15 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 37 RBI, 12 SB
OF A.J. Pollock, Jr., Notre Dame .350 avg., 217 AB, 49 R, 76 H, 15 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 28SB
OF Cameron Satterwhite, Sr., Cincinnati .364 avg., 225 AB, 49 R, 82 H, 21 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 0 SB
DH Chris Affinito, Sr., Seton Hall .308 avg., 201 AB, 38 R, 62 H, 9 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 0 SB

* – unanimous selection