The College Baseball Blog continues our series of conference previews today with the Big East Conference. Louisville won the conference regular season and postseason titles in 2009 with a 47-18 overall record while going 19-7 in Big East play. The Cardinals were the only team selected to play in the 2009 NCAA Tourney out of the Big East where they won the Louisville Regional before losing to Cal-State Fullerton.
Cincinnati (29-29 overall, 13-14 Big East)
Top Position Player: Sophomore 2b T.J. Jones (.327 BA, 4 HR, 32 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Junior RHP Dan Jensen (3-4, 4.60 ERA, 31.1 IP)
Biggest Loss: Mike Spina (.342 BA, 23 HR, 69 RBI)
Outlook: The Bearcats are coming off a 29-29 season while going slightly under .500 in Big East play at 13-14. The big loss for the Bearcats is leading hitter Mike Spina who was the heart of the lineup with his 23 homers last season. The pitching staff has some major question marks and many pitchers are going to need to step up their games for them to move up in the standings.
Uconn (36-24 overall, 14-13 Big East)
Top Position Player: Sophomore OF George Springer (.358 BA, 16 HR, 57 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Junior LHP Elliot Glynn (5-4, 4.76 ERA, 73.2 IP)
Biggest Loss: David Erickson (0-2, 12 SV, 3.21 ERA)
Outlook: The expectations are very high at Uconn this year with Sophomore outfielder George Springer and Michael Olt leading the offense. The biggest question is who will step up in the rotation for the Huskies this season. Last year, they had a 36-24 overall record while going 14-13 in the rotation. I think the pitchers will step up this season and the lineup will come through.
Georgetown (17-34 overall, 8-18 Big East)
Top Position Player: Junior C Erick Fernandez (.349 BA, 5 HR, 28 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Tim Adelman (4-8, 5.72 ERA, 14 Starts)
Biggest Loss: Sean Baumann (.299, 6 HR, 27 RBI)
Outlook: The Hoyas were sanctioned by the NCAA for violations in the baseball program on September 2nd. (FULL ARTICLE). Georgetown finished last season with a 17-34 overall record while going 8-18 in Big East play which was tenth in the conference to not qualify for the Big East tourney. They have some major issues in the lineup and pitching depth which will keep them in the bottom half of the Big East this season.
Louisville (47-18 overall, 19-7 Big East)
Top Position Player: Junior 3B/OF Phil Wunderlich (.367 BA, 18 HR, 78 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Junior LHP Dan Kiekhefer (6-5, 5.00 ERA, 13 starts)
Biggest Loss: Chris Dominguez (.345 BA, 25 HR, 82 RBI)
Outlook: The Cardinals won the Big East Regular Season and Tournament titles last year as they went 47-18 overall and 19-7 in Big East play. They won the Louisville Regional before going 0-2 in the Super Regional round against Cal-State Fullerton. They return a great hitter in Phil Wunderlich and the rotation should be strong with some players returning from injuries. You can check out our interview with Coach McDonnell by clicking here.
Notre Dame (36-23 overall, 15-12 Big East)
Top Position Player: Junior 1B David Casey (.330 BA, 3 HR, 21 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Junior RHP Cole Johnson (7-3, 4.47 ERA, 94.2 IP)
Biggest Loss: AJ Pollock (.365, 10 HR, 52 RBI)
Outlook: Notre Dame looks to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 this season under fourth year head coach Dave Schrage who had a 36-23 overall record and a 15-12 mark in the Big East last season. He will have to replace All Big East player AJ Pollock who led the Irish with a .365 average last season while being an excellent outfielder. The pitching staff this season will need to be more consistent to challenge for a potential NCAA bid.
Pittsburgh (28-21 overall, 13-13 Big East)
Top Position Player: SS Danny Lopez (.323 BA, 30 RBI, 16 SB)
Top Pitcher: Corey Baker (6-3, 5.91 ERA)
Biggest Loss: Chris Sedon (.398 BA, 22 HR, 62 RBI)
Outlook: Pittsburgh last season went 28-21 overall while going 13-13 in Big East play. The biggest issue will be how the Panthers are going to replace Chris Sedon who had one of the best seasons in the history of the Pitt Baseball program. He finished last season with a .398 average while hitting 22 homers. The Panthers starting pitchers will need to keep the opponents in check until the offense finds its groove. You can check out a full interview with Coach Jordano by clicking here.
Rutgers (22-31 overall, 8-19 Big East)
Top Position Player: Junior OF Michael Lang (.343 BA, 8 HR, 38 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Sophomore RHP Willie Beard (4-4, 6.30 ERA, 64.1 IP)
Biggest Loss: Luis Feliz (.321 BA, 3 HR, 25 RBI)
Outlook: Rutgers finished last season in second to last place with a 8-19 mark in Big East play while going 22-31 overall. Rutgers is looking to make the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Tourney since the 2007 season. The pitching staff has many questions right now heading into the year while Michael Lang will have to carry the offense unless an incoming player steps into to the lineup.
Seton Hall (25-24 overall, 13-14 Big East)
Top Position Player: Senior IF Michael Rogers (.299 BA, 23 RBI, 6 SB)
Top Pitcher: Junior RHP Joe DiRocco (4-3, 4.46 ERA)
Biggest Loss: Matt Smedberg (.382 BA, 2 HR, 26 RBI)
Outlook: Seton Hall finished in a three way tie for seventh place last season but lost the tiebreaker so they did not play in the Big East Tourney after going 25-24 overall and 13-14 in Big East play. The Pirates only return one weekend starter in the rotation with Joe DiRocco and the leading hitter coming back in Michael Rogers only hit .299 last season. The Pirates will be an inexperienced squad during the 2010 season.
St. John’s (30-22 overall, 16-11 Big East)
Top Position Player: Senior OF Jimmy Parque (.360 BA, 5 HR, 60 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Senior RHP Nick Cenatiempo (5-3, 5.17 ERA, 17 APP)
Biggest Loss: Tim Morris (.415 BA, 12 HR, 62 RBI)
Outlook: St. John’s is looking to make a return to the NCAA Tournament after missing out on making the tourney last season. The Red Storm will be led by Jimmy Parque who hit .360 last season and Nick Cenatiempo will have to lead the rotation after going 5-3 with a 5.17 ERA. I think the Red Storm are going to take a step forward this season.
South Florida (34-25 overall, 18-9 Big East)
Top Position Player: Junior OF/LHP Junior Carlin (.384 BA, 27 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Junior RHP Randy Fontanez (7-3, 3.09 ERA, .250 BAA)
Biggest Loss: Trey Manz (.293, 6 HR, 24 RBI)
Outlook: The South Florida Bulls finished in second place last year in the Big East after going 34-25 overall and 18-9 in conference play. Ryan Lockwood had a disappointing sophomore season in 2009 where he only hit .289 with 33 RBI after being a consensus Freshman All-American in 2008 where he hit .415 with 37 RBI and 12 stolen bases. The Bulls will have top pitcher Randy Fontanez back after he went 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA.
Villanova (22-28 overall, 6-20 Big East)
Top Position Player: Junior OF Matt Szczur (.346 BA, 24 RBI, 18 SB)
Top Pitcher: Senior RHP Brian Streilin (5-8, 5.46 ERA, 13 starts)
Biggest Loss: Matt McFolling (.318 BA, 5 HR, 42 RBI)
Outlook: Villanova finished last season in last place in the Big East after going 22-28 overall with a 6-20 record in Big East play. The top returning hitter is All-American football player Matt Szczur who hit .346 with 24 RBI with 18 stolen bases. Villanova needs to get some quality pitching as they had a staff ERA of 6.15.
West Virginia (37-18 overall, 17-10 Big East)
Top Position Player: Junior 3B Dan DiBartolomeo (.439 BA, 8 HR, 59 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Jarryd Summers (7-3, 3.06 ERA, 14 starts)
Biggest Loss: Billy Gross (9-4, 4.23 ERA, 87.1)
Outlook: The Mountaineers finished the 2009 season with a 37-18 overall record while going 17-10 in Big East play which was good enough for a third place finish. They return two outstanding hitters in Dan DiBartolomeo (.439 BA, 8 HR, 59 RBI) and Jedd Gyorko (.421 BA, 8 HR, 58 RBI) who should challenge the Big East pitching staffs throughout the 2010 season. Jarryd Summers is the top returning starting pitcher as he went 7-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 14 starts. I believe that the Mountaineers are a major sleeper in the conference this season.