ColumbiaFeatured

2014 CBD Season Preview: Ivy League

IvyLeagueSmallAfter an exciting finish in last year’s Ivy League Baseball Championship it is fair to say that coach Whalen and the Big Green will be looking for some redemption come the 2014 season.

After Columbia swept Dartmouth in the Championship it was no surprise that the Lions had lived up to their pre-season rankings. This victory clinched their 11th Ivy League title in program history, and second in the last six years which has head coach Brett Boretti and the rest of the program excited for the upcoming 2014 season. With the competitive nature of the Ivy League continuously growing, 2014 promises to showcase great talent on the diamond.

Despite a devastating loss in the Ivy League Championship last season, Dartmouth still managed to finish atop the conference in team batting, team pitching and team fielding. The Big Green loses five seniors from 2013 but good recruiting has managed to bring in some solid talent in order to fill in the spaces that have been made in order to prepare for the 2014 season. Head coach Bob Whalen realizes that there is a lot on the line this upcoming season and you can be sure you will see Dartmouth amongst the top once again. The Big Red could surprise some people as they offer some talented arms that will prove to be beneficial down the road and the strength of their recruiting class will hopefully be the answer for their offensive woes. Coach Drabinski has his work cut out for him this upcoming season as his struggling Bears look to regain their footing in the League and hopes that the return of OF Will Marcal will add that much needed spark to the lineup.

Both Yale and Princeton seem to be facing similar issues as their as major key losses have left some holes in their lineup which hopefully can be filled with some new faces that are ready to step in and compete. Yale loses their offensive power houses in C Chris Piwinski and DH Josh Sharff which will be tough to replace and Princeton loses two-way player Mike Ford which will leave an offensive gap hopefully filled by returner INF Alec Keller.

Rounding out the bottom half of the League stands Penn and Harvard who seem to have some rebuilding years ahead of them. Penn enters the 2014 season without OF Ryan Deitrich as he has made the move to Duke to finish out his last year of eligibility which definitely hurts the Quakers offensively but will look to INF Mike Villardo to pick up the slack. The Crimson enters the New Year looking to turn around their luck and begin to climb their way back up the standings with the help of three key players including OF Brandon Kregel (.288, 2 HR, 21 RBI) who will be back for his junior season. The other two players include OF Jack Colton and C Ethan Ferreira who were just recently named captains by Coach Decker for the 2014 campaign.

With some major moves already being made, The Ivy League continues to strive to be as competitive as it can be and the 2014 season will be proof of that fact.

Columbia 28-21 (16-4)

Key Returning Players: RHP Joey Donino, LHP David Speer, INF Aaron Silbar

Key Losses: INF/RHP Alex Black, RHP Tim Giel

After winning the Ivy League Championship last season, Columbia heads into the 2014 season they will be without All-Ivy League second team first baseman Alex Black; However coach Boretti has made some offseason moves that has brought some fresh faces to the Lion’s Clubhouse.

The addition of seven newcomers hopes to fill some of the gaps offensively as well as defensively. On the mound, the Lions have returned two impact players that will be a huge part of the staff’s starting rotation. Joey Donino returns for his senior year after finishing 7-0 last season with a 2.70 ERA along with LHP David Speer who finished with an impressive 6-3 record while posting a 2.34 ERA. These two pitchers look to be the cornerstone of the staff in 2014 as returning infielder Aaron Silbar will look to hold down the lineup offensively. Silbar finished the season batting .306 with 52 hits and 22 RBI and will be back in the lineup for the Lions in 2014. Despite suffering key losses to their lineup the Lions are expected to be a top contender in the conference.

Dartmouth 32-9 (15-5)

Key Returning Players: OF Jeff Keller, INF Joe Purritano, INF Matt Parisi

Key Losses: OF Ennis Coble, LHP Michael Johnson, LHP Kyle Hunter, RHP Cole Sulser, LHP Mitch Horacek

Dartmouth was left with a sour taste in their mouth after being swept by Columbia in the Ivy League Championship but looks to enter the 2014 season stronger than ever. After losing senior starters Michael Johnson (7-0, 1.82 ERA), Cole Sulser (5-3, 2.52 ERA) and Kyle Hunter (4-1, 1.83 ERA) the Big Green has some big spots to fill as they must rebuild their entire starting rotation. Dartmouth must also bounce back after losing junior LHP Mitch Horacek to the Baltimore Orioles in the 2013 Major League Draft. Horacek was part of a pitching staff that posted an Ivy League-best 2.75 ERA (15th best nationally) as he personally posted a 6-2 record with a 2.20 ERA.

With these huge losses coming all at once it is imperative that coach Whalen continues to groom his young arms in order to stay competitive within the conference. More responsibility will be placed on seniors Adam Frank (3-0, 4.22) and Mike Dodakian (2-0, 2.11 ERA) as they will be counted on to eat up some extra innings and step into a bigger role. On offense, the Big Green loses an impact bat in outfielder Ennis Coble as he was a leader on and off the field. The Dartmouth lineup will have to find a way to manufacture runs without his presence on the field which shouldn’t be too hard for a program that led the Ivy League in team batting. Key returners for the 2014 season are OF Jeff Keller (.369, 6 HR, 41 RBI), INF Joe Puritano (.343, 5 HR, 30 RBI) and INF Matt Parisi (.329, 1 HR, 15 RBI). With the loss of so many great arms it is comforting for Big Green to know that there lineup offensively will remain untouched for the most part. If Dartmouth is able to overcome their losses on the staff then there is a good chance you will see them among the top teams in the Conference once again.

Brown 7-33 (3-17)

Key Returning Players: OF Will Marcal, C Wes Van Boom,

Key Losses: INF Cody Slaughter, RHP Kevin Carlow

Head coach Marek Drabinski is now in his 18th season with Brown and looks to take the Bears back to the top of the Rolfe Division and the Ivy League Championship. Drabinski has proven in the past that he has what it takes to finish with a successful season and hopefully the Bears are able to turn their luck around in 2014. After a disappointing 2013 season, the Bears seem to be having trouble finding the solution to their recent lack of success. They have been in a downward spiral over the last few years and 2013 was no different after Brown finished near the bottom in almost every category.

Despite their past performances there is something to look forward to in the upcoming season with some notable returners making their way back to the Bears lineup. OF Will Marcal returns after a very impressive sophomore season batting .324 with 3 HR and 23 RBI and looks to continue that success through 2014. Marcal was also named Second Team All-Ivy for his efforts and provided strong defense as the Bears right fielder. Another key returner to the 2014 roster is C Wes Van Boom who batted .248 with 3 HR and 19 RBI as a junior. Van Boom made 39 starts last year as a catcher and will definitely bring a sense of comfort to a young pitching staff. The departure of INF Cody Slaughter (.246, 33 hits, 11RBI) and RHP Kevin Carlow (0-7, 4.02 ERA) will mean losing some of that veteran presence but will give the underclassman an opportunity to fill some of the shoes left behind. Brown definitely has their work cut out for them this season and will merely be looking to make steps in a positive direction in 2014.

Cornell 23-17 (11-9)

Key Returning Players: IF/OF JD Whetsel, C Matt Hall, LHP Zach McCulley, RHP Brian McAfee

Key Losses: OF Spencer Souza

The Big Red could prove to be a surprise this upcoming season as they come off an 11-9 record in conference last year. They have managed to return many of their key attributes and will definitely be in the running in 2014. Cornell finished slightly behind Dartmouth in team pitching finishing with a 3.13 staff ERA and they bring back most of the players that were part of it. LHP Zach McCulley (4-2, 1.70 ERA) returns for his senior season and helps round out the starting rotation along with RHP Brian McAfee (3-2, 2.28 ERA) and LHP Nick Busto (5-2, 3.34 ERA). With these players making a return for the Big Red it is safe to say that they will be serious contenders down the stretch. As a staff they only gave up 115 ER which was good enough for second best in the league and their 13 saves led the conference. With this impressive group of arms returning to the roster as well as some talented new additions, Cornell could easily find themselves making a push for the Conference Championship. Key losses include OF Spencer Souza (.276, 24 hits, 14 RBI) however Coach Walkenbach believes that they have recruited a very talented class that will be ready to step in right away and make an impact. The strength of the 2014 recruiting class was ranked No. 85 by Perfect Game and hopes to add a much needed boost to Cornell’s offense which currently stands among the bottom in a majority of categories including batting average (.240). If this lineup is able to turn it around offensively in 2014 they will have a great opportunity to be one of the top teams in the Ivy League.

Princeton 14-28 (11-9)

Key Returning Players: INF/OF Alec Keller, INF Danny Hoy, RHP Cameron Mingo

Key Losses: RHP/INF Mike Ford, RHP Zak Hermans

Despite Princeton’s 14-28 overall record, the Tiger’s proved to be competitive within the Ivy League matching Cornell’s record of 11-9. Princeton ranked among the middle of the pack in team batting (.246) and pitching (5.11 ERA) but their fielding is what cost them in 2013. The Tigers led the League in errors (74) and will look to make some changes regarding their defensive strategies for the 2014 season. Coach Bradley returns a handful of key players who will be counted on to make an example for the young Princeton squad. INF/OF Alec Keller (.378, 4 HR, 17 RBI) returns after a very impressive junior season and will be looked upon to step up his run production after the loss of senior Mike Ford (.320, 6 HR, 38 RBI). Another key returner for the Tiger’s is INF Danny Hoy (.307, 2 HR, 21 RBI) who will also have the opportunity to step into a bigger role for 2014. With these two players in the lineup, Princeton will have a chance to sneak up in the Lou Gehrig Division. On the mound for the Tiger’s RHP Cameron Mingo (1-4, 2.92 ERA) will also return in 2014 which will benefit the lineup tremendously in the loss of senior RHP Zak Hermans (3-4, 2.40 ERA) and two-way player Mike Ford who also found great success off the bump (6-0, 0.98 ERA). The success of the Tiger’s will all depend on how well their starting rotation bounces back from these losses and the fact that Cameron Mingo is returning is the first step in the right direction.

Harvard 10-30 (7-13)

Key Returning Players: OF Brandon Kregel, OF Jack Colton, C Ethan Ferreira

Key Losses: RHP Jordan Haviland

The 2013 season did not go quite as expected for the Crimson as they finished just ahead of Brown in third place in the Red Rolfe Division. Offensively, Harvard struggled to score runs and their pitching staff had the worst team ERA (6.31) in the League.

Despite the Crimson’s struggle on the diamond, Coach Decker has his eye’s set on the 2014 campaign and greets it with anticipation. Harvard returns three key players for 2014 including OF Brandon Kregel (.288, 2 HR, 21 RBI) who will be back for his junior season.

The other two key returnees include OF Jack Colton and C Ethan Ferreira who were just recently named captains by Coach Decker for the 2014 campaign. In two seasons with the Crimson, Colton has developed into a .332 hitter with 24 runs scored, 21 RBI, six doubles, two home runs and eight stolen bases. The Milton, Mass., native has started 69 games during his career, including all 42 as a sophomore. Ferreira is batting .255 (38-for-149) in 53 appearances, with 11 runs and 17 RBI. Ferreira’s year was cut short after 18 games in 2013 due to an injury, but looks to return to the lineup in 2014 healthy and prepared to help turn around the Crimson’s luck. With only a small handful of seniors on the roster in 2013 there were not many key losses besides RHP Jordan Haviland who threw 22.1 innings for the Crimson combining for a 1-1 record with a 7.25 ERA. Despite this small loss there will be no issue finding player’s willing to step up and take those innings as Harvard hopes to regain some respect within the Ivy League.

Penn 22-21 (7-13)

Key Returning Players: INF Mike Vilardo, C Austin Bossart, RHP Dan Gautieri
Key Losses: OF Ryan Deitrich,

With the loss of OF Ryan Deitrich, the Penn offense will have big shoes to fill during the 2014 season. An Injury in Deitrich’s freshman year gave the outfielder a medical redshirt which allows him an extra year of eligibility. The All-Ivy League performer earned his diploma from Penn and is now taking advantage of a new rule the NCAA has implemented which has allowed Deitrich to carry out his final baseball season at Duke. In 2013, Deitrich led the Ivy League in batting average and on base percentage, and tied for first in the conference in hits with teammate freshman infielder. Deitrich now joins a Duke team that finished last in the ACC Coastal Division last season. Deitrich’s move happened less than a week after Penn baseball manager John Cole was let go.

Thanks in part to Deitrich, Penn had a solid offensive season in 2013, finishing second in slugging percentage and third in on base percentage, runs scored, RBIs and hits. Still, the outfielder leaves behind an offense that should prove quite capable with Vilardo, Austin Bossart, Ryan Mincher and Mitch Montaldo all coming back in 2014. Villardo(.320, 4 HR, 31 RBI) along with RHP Dan Gautieri (5-3, 2.17 ERA) will play important roles in the upcoming season and will have to live up to expectations in order to be successful. With Gautieri capping off the starting rotation and a young bullpen full of some fresh faces the Quakers are looking promising for the upcoming season. If they are able to overcome the loss of their cornerstone player, you could see Penn Baseball make a jump in the standings come 2014.

Yale 13-24 (10-10)

Key Returning Players: 3B Brent Lawson, LHP Rob Cerfolio, RHP Michael Coleman

Key losses: C Chris Piwinski, DH Josh Scharff

After a long and disappointing season for the Bulldogs in 2013, Coach Stuper and the squad look to rebound in 2014 with some key players returning to the lineup. As a team, Yale batted a mediocre .249 and scored only 130 runs as the offense struggled to gain any kind of momentum throughout the season. 3B Brent Lawson made 37 appearances with 35 starts including 30 starts at third base and was one of the few offensive weapons for the Bulldogs. He returns for his sophomore season after finishing second on the team in hitting (.281), slugging, (.336), hits (36), runs scored (17), at bats (128) and total bases (43). Also returning to the lineup for the Bulldogs is LHP Rob Cerfolio who was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 33rd round of the 2013 Draft. Cerfolio is considered one of Yale’s four primary starters and will assume that same position come the 2014 season. In 10 appearances the south paw made eight starts, finishing second on the staff with a 2.94 ERA. If the lefty is able to duplicate his performance of a year ago, Yale may have a chance to surprise some people. The last key returner is RHP Michael Coleman who is also considered a part of the primary starting rotation. The right hander brings a power arm and a lot of confidence to the mound as he led the Bulldogs with 54.2 innings pitched, making 10 appearances and seven starts finishing with a 3-4 record and a 3.13 ERA. With these two returning to the lineup, Yale will potentially have the making of a competitive ball team.

Gone are C Chris Piwinski (.262, 9 RBI) and DH Josh Scharff (.284, 11 RBI) who were both impact players for the Bulldogs in 2013. Piwinski was Yale’s primary catcher and captain which will be hard to replace this upcoming season but will give younger players such as freshman newcomer C Andrew Herrera the opportunity to step up and become a key player in 2014. Yale’s bullpen seems to be unchanged but will need to drastically improve on last year’s numbers in order to become a top contender within the Ivy League.

Top 5 Hitters

  1. Jeff Keller- Dartmouth
  2. Alec Keller- Princeton
  3. Joe Purritano- Dartmouth
  4. Joey Falcone- Columbia
  5. Will Marcal- Brown

Top 5 Pitchers

  1. Zach McCulley- Cornell
  2. Brian McAfee- Cornell
  3. David Speer- Columbia
  4. Joey Donino- Columbia
  5. Cameron Mingo- Princeton

Newcomers to watch

Andrew Herrera- Yale

A four-year letterwinner in baseball in each of his four seasons at Don Bosco Prep and was an All-Big South Conference Second Team selection in 2013 and a First Team selection in 2012. He comes to Yale after batting a team-high .441 in 2012 in leading Don Bosco Prep to the state championship, and also led the Ironmen to back-to-back Bergen County titles. With the departure of Yale captain Chris Piwinski, it may give Herrera the opportunity to step in right away and battle for playing time right off the bat.

Ryan Karl- Cornell

One of the Big Red’s three incoming transfers, Karl arrives on East Hill after stops at University of Louisville and Catawba Valley Community College (N.C.). He was a Perfect Game USA Preseason Underclass All-American Honorable Mention in 2010, then a Perfect Game USA Top 1,000 national recruit and Rawlings Preseason Underclass All-Northeast Region Second Team selection the following season. In his senior season at Montville Township High School, Karl earned All-State and All-County honors and was named team MVP after hitting .536 with seven home runs, 31 RBIs, 14 doubles, 46 runs scored and 30 walks.

Tim Willittes- Cornell

Willittes compiled a 23-1 career record and helped his high school team win a state title and rise to the No. 1 national ranking by Max Preps. He was ranked 458th in the nation and 156th among right-handed pitchers by Perfect Game USA for 2013 recruits. Willittes was a two-time member of the Arizona Diamondbacks Elite Scout Team and attended the Perfect Game National Showcase in June 2012. He was a Perfect Game USA Honorable Mention Preseason All-American in 2011 and a third-teamer the following year. He then led his team in strikeouts while posting a 5-0 record his senior year.

Predictions

Lou Gehrig Division

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

Red Rolfe Division

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