The College Baseball Blog continues our previews of conferences around the nation today with a preview of the Red Rolfe Division of the Ivy League. The Dartmouth Big Green won the divisional title last season which qualified them for the Ivy League Championship series. The Big Green ended up losing the three game set with the Columbia Lions. You can check out the Gehrig Division preview by clicking here.
Brown (20-24 overall, 9-11 Ivy League)
The Brown Bears had a slightly disappointing 2008 season by finishing the year with a 20-24 overall record and 9-11 in the Ivy League. They are led by Marek Drabinski who is entering his 13th season in charge of Brown Baseball winning the Ivy League Championship in 2007.
Brown finished last season second in the conference in hitting with a team batting average of .320. They will return six out of their top nine position players from the 2008 season. The biggest loss is Conor Reardon who led the Bears with a .395 average in forty games last season. They also lose Ryan Murphy who hit .320 in only 25 games and J.J. Eno who hit .290 with four homers last season. Sophomore catcher Matt Colantonio had a breakout freshman season in 2008 which saw him finish second on the team with a .368 average while driving in 25 runs.
The Brown pitching staff last season finished third in the conference in ERA at 5.95 returns half of their weekend rotation. The top returning starting pitcher is Junior RHP Will Weidig who made nine appearances (eight starts) last season. He had a 4-4 record with an ERA of 4.93. Sophomore LHP Mark Gormley made 14 appearances last season while making four starts in the rotation. He had a 3-3 overall record with an ERA of 5.77. He was the team’s best pitcher with an ERA of 3.74 but struggled with results as he went 1-2. The biggest loss in the starting rotation is Alex Silverman who had a 5-2 record with a 6.23 ERA in eight games. He had a 16 strikeout game in his final start of his career against Yale in only seven innings of work. Rob Hallberg has also left the program after appearing in relief during 19 games accumulating a 1-3 record with a team leading three saves and a 5.75 ERA.
Dartmouth (25-17 overall, 15-5 Ivy League)
The Dartmouth Big Green had one of the best years in recent memory with a 25-17 overall record and going 15-5 in the Ancient Eight conference. They qualified for the Ivy League Championship series in 2008 but were eliminated by the Columbia Lions in the best of three series. They are led by Bob Whalen who is entering his 19th season in charge of the Big Green.
The Big Green led the Ivy League last season with a team batting average of .321. They return six of the nine starters from the 2008 Red Rolfe Division Championship squad. The top two returning hitters are Senior Michael Pagliarulo and Junior Nick Santomauro. Pagliarulo finished second on the team with a .370 average and six homers while driving in 30 runs. Santomauro is an impressive player with his 6-2 205 pound frame who hit last season .364 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in only 42 games. He does have to cut down on his strikeouts as he led the team with 46 last year.
The Dartmouth staff last season had an ERA of 6.02 which was good for fourth place in the conference. The top pitcher last season was Russell Young who had a 5-4 record with an ERA of 4.55 but graduated last spring. Young’s brother Robert Young will be a key cog in the rotation this season. He had a 4-2 record with a 5.27 ERA in 10 appearances (nine starts) last season. Jake Pruner is expected to continue in the rotation this season even though he struggled during points of the 2008 season as he had a 4-3 record with a 9.28 ERA. They also lose Chase Carpenter who made nine starts last season with a 5-2 record and an ERA of 5.79.
Harvard (10-30 overall, 8-12 Ivy League)
The Harvard Crimson are led by Joe Walsh who is entering his 14th season in charge of the program. Walsh had one of his worst seasons in 2008 by going 10-30 overall and struggling in non-conference games with a 2-18 record including getting no-hit by San Diego’s Josh Romanski. The Crimson started the season off with a record of 1-22 as they received a heavy barrage of injuries early in the year.
The Harvard offense last season saw them have the worst team batting average in the conference at .253. The best hitter for the Crimson heading into the 2008 campaign was Tom Stack-Babich but he had an early season injury which kept him out for most of the year. Senior infielder Taylor Meehan is the top returning hitter with a .330 average. Dillon O’Neill also hit .304 and should provide some punch to the lineup this season.
The biggest losses for the Harvard pitching staff is the graduation of Shawn Haviland and Brad Unger. Both of these pitchers were key members of the pitching staff over the last three seasons. Brad Unger had a 3-5 record with an ERA of 4.19 in 11 appearances including seven starts after completing the basketball season. Haviland made 13 appearances last season with eight starts while having a record of 2-6 with a 5.46 ERA. The best news that the Crimson has gotten is the return of Max Pearlman who took last year off from school due to personal reasons but will be an important member of the starting rotation. He had an impressive summer in the Cape Cod League where he was named an alternate for the CCBL All-Star Game. Junior LHP Eric Eadington is listed as one of the top returning pitchers for the Crimson but was injured last season and might see some action during the season.
Yale (20-24-1 overall, 9-10-1 Ivy League)
The Yale Bulldogs had a respectable 20-24-1 record last season but went 9-10-1 in the Ivy League. Yale last won the Ivy League title in 1994. Head Coach John Stuper is entering his 17th season in charge of the program where he has had 25 players sign professional contracts.
The Yale Bulldogs had a .290 batting average which was tied for fourth place in the conference with Princeton. The biggest loss to the offense will be catcher Ryan Lavarnaway who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round. Last season, he had a .398 average with 13 homers and 42 RBI. In 2007, he led the nation in 2007 with a .467 average while hitting 14 homers. The top returning hitter this season is Stefan Schropp who had a .345 average last year.
Brandon Josselyn and Chris Finneran are the top two returning pitchers but neither of them had a strong 2008 campaign. Josselyn had a 2-7 record with an ERA of 7.28 while Finneran had a 2-4 record with a 5.77 ERA.
Predictions for Red Rolfe Division
The Dartmouth Big Green are clearly the best team right now heading into the season as they have talent on the mound and at the plate. The Brown Bears have a solid number one starter in Will Weidig. The Harvard Crimson will not have as many injuries this season and will be more competitive on the mound and at the plate. The Yale program will be relying on some inexperienced pitchers which will hurt their chances of moving up in the divisional standings. As always, I will be covering the Ivy League in depth as I live in the New England area and take in a few games throughout the season.