College Baseball Daily continues our series of conference previews today with the America East Conference. The Stony Brook Seawolves have dominated the conference the last two seasons making the College World Series last season after winning the Coral Gables Regional and the Baton Rouge Super Regional. You can check out the full preview below.
University of Albany Great Danes
Albany is looking to turn around their team in 2013. Jon Mueller is back for his 14th season with the Great Danes, and back with him are assistant coaches Drew Pierce and Jeff Kaier. The team went 22-32-1 in 2012, but was 16-8 in their conference.
Albany’s projected weekend starters are Derek Zielinski, Austin Chase, and Kasciem Graham. Chase and Graham combined for a 6-7 record. Zielinski is a red shirt senior who transferred from Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Zielinski went 9-3 in 2012 for the Dolphins with 98 strikeouts and a 3.17 ERA. Continuing with pitching, some important bullpen arms include Steve Carey, Cameron Sorgie and Andrew Jaurique. Jaurique is another newcomer, a transfer from Merced College.
D.J. Hoagboon and Nolan Gaige are the big hitters for Albany. They hit .318 and .302 respectively and combined for 57 RBIs. Albany heads to the Carolinas in mid February to start its season. The team will face Delaware, Wright State and South Carolina and more before heading back North.
Binghamton University Bearcats
Binghamton went 23-26 in 2012. They’ll be led again this season by head coach Tim Sinicki. Sinicki is returning for the 21st season with the Bearcats. Also returning are his assistant coaches, Ryan Hurba, Dustin Johnson and Ed Folli.
The Bearcats have a few players to watch including Mike Meleski a junior southpaw and Reed Gamache who could be an option for the team at third base. Also look out for Jake Cryts a RHP and DH who was a .420 hitter for his three-time district champion high school team. Cryts also graduated high school holding records for career hits, doubles, triples, walks, RBIs and runs scored.
Binghamton heads south to start its season against James Madison. The team’s first America East conference action begins March 16 at UMBC. The Bearcats are happy to return to their own campus facility after a year without a field. To view aerial photos of the facility click here.
University of Hartford Hawks
Hartford looks to turn things around in 2013 after going 16-40 in America East. Head Coach Justin Blood is heading into his second season with Hartford. Returning with him is his team, Steve Malinowski and John Slusarz. Mike Nemeth will join the Hawks for his first season as assistant coach.
The Hawks will face a lot of positional battles. Currently, there are 6 infielders fighting for three jobs. Freshman Aaron Wilson, and sophomore Trey Stover are competing at short, while freshman Adam Touhey and Junior Brian Estevez are both capable at second base. Also battling in the infield are two freshmen Nick Dummar and Jeremy Charles, who have shown they can handle the hot corner. One or two of the guys who don’t get an infield spot, could move the to the outfield, making those positions competition as well.
As far as pitching for Hartford, many roles are yet to be determined. Head coach Blood feels they have some quality options, and more overall depth than last year. Hartford feels they are a strong contender to make the conference tournament this spring. The Hawks have not done so since 1996, but find themselves with enough talent to make it happen.
University of Maine Orono Black Bears
Maine finished at .500 last season with a 28-28 overall record. Head Coach Steve Trimper is back for his eighth season. Assistant coaches Jason Spaulding, Billy Cather and Ryan Forrest are back as well.
Some key returners include senior Mike Fransoso, and juniors Alex Calbick, and Mike Connolly. Fransoso is a seasoned shortstop, and Trimper calls him a prototypical franchise guy. All three players spent time playing in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League this summer. Two other key returners are both coming back from Tommy John’s surgery. AJ Bazdanes was red shirted last year, but is back on the staff and southpaw Scott Heath is also returning.
Because of Connolly’s success behind the plate over the summer, there is now some competition behind the plate. Senior Tyler Patzelek is the other fighting for the position. The Black Bears will face Auburn, Stetson and Florida A&M to start their season. They start in conference action against Stony Brook in mid March. To view an extensive preview on Maine baseball, click here.
Stony Brook University Seawolves
Stony Brook heads into the 2013 season as top dogs in America East. After going 52-15 in 2012 (21-3 in the ACC) and shocking the world in the 2012 College World Series, they’ll look to continue their success. Head Coach Matt Senk returns for his 23rd season as head coach. Joe Pennucci, Mike Marron and Steve Hassan will join him as assistant coaches.
Stony Brook was the only America East team to finish over .500 in 2012. Their 52 regular season wins marked a team record. 16 players from the World Series team will return in 2012 including two freshman All-Americans. Despite the talent, some Seawolves will face positional battles. Fighting for a starting second base position are Brett Tenuto, Jack Parenty, Gabriel Peña and Austin Shives. Pena is the lone upperclassman in the group; the other three are freshmen.
The Seawolves received their 2012 College World Series rings at the end of January. New York State Congressman Tim Bishop presented each member of the team with a Congressional Resolution to celebrate his accomplishment. Stony Brook baseball was the first America East team, and first Northeast Region team to reach the College World Series since 1986. Stony Brook opens its season February 15 at Florida International.
Bob Mumma is heading into his second season as the head coach for UMBC. He’ll be joined with assistant coaches Liam Bowen, Larry Williams, and Tim O’Brien. The Retrievers are looking to better their 10-42 overall record, which put them in last place in the division.
Senior Jason Allinder and junior Rob McCabe have been named team captains for the upcoming season. McCabe returns for his second stint as a team captain, which he was named as a sophomore. The Retrievers will see 11 upperclassmen return. Head Coach Mumma saw a couple positional battles on his team in the fall. Vince Corbi and Jake Barnes will fight for second base, while DH could go to either Allinder or D.J. Smith.
The Retrievers announced in December that Under Armour would be the team’s official outfitter through 2018. The team will start their season at the Coastal Carolina Invitation facing off against NC State, West Virginia and Indiana. They’ll begin March 1.
America East has produced many great hitters to watch out for this upcoming season. Hitters include Mike Fransoso (Maine), D.J. Hoagboon and Nolan Gaige (Albany), Jake Thomas (Binghamton) and Tanner Nivins, Kevin Krause and Cole Peragine (Stony Brook).
Fransoso hit .268 in the Cape League this past summer for the Chatham Anglers. He hit .327 for Maine with five homeruns and started every game. Upperclassmen Hoagboon and Gaige hit .318 and .302 respectively, each with a homerun. As a freshman, Thomas was named to the America East all rookie team and hit .296 with three homers and a .407 slugging percentage. Stony Brooks top guys all averaged over .300 with Krause at .330, Nivins at .306 and Peragine at .304. The three combined for 48 extra base hits in 2012.
Other Hitters of Note
Brian Bullard, Albany
Troy Black, Maine
James Alfonso, Hartford
Steven Goldstein, Stony Brook
Fran Witten, Maine
Brian Ruby, Binghamton
Brandon McNitt (Stony Brook), Shaun Coughlin (Maine) and Jake Lambert (Binghamton) were named overwhelmingly as the top throwers among America East’s head coaches. McNitt had a 2.76 ERA in his sophomore season with the Seawolves with a 8-4 record from 17 starts. He complied 63 strikes and 27 walks. McNitt was selected to the All-America East First team as a sophomore. Coughlin is expected to be in the Black Bears starting rotation but could also see time as the team’s closer. Coughlin went 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA, but was also named to the All-America East first team. Lambert is a redshirt sophomore who sat out the 2011-2012 season after transferring from San Diego City College.
Other Pitchers of Note
Frankie Vanderka, Stony Brook
Sean Newcomb, Hartford
Austin Chase, Albany
1. Stony Brook