“Once again, we open up with a very challenging early-season schedule, which we are very excited about,” Cerrato explained. “I think we’ve shown over the past few years that the best way to get better as a program is put ourselves in situations where we are playing the best teams in the country. We look forward to these opportunities each season.”
The Rams open the 2017 campaign at McNeese State’s Lake Area Classic, Feb. 17-19. Rhody will face Missouri State in Friday’s season-opener, followed by a Saturday evening game against McNeese State and a Sunday afternoon meeting with Stony Brook.
From there, URI will travel to Houston Baptist to close out the month of February with a four-game set against the Huskies (Feb. 24-26). The teams will play once on Friday, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday.
“One of the things that excites me about this 2017 schedule is that we will be exposing our student-athletes to a variety programs outside of the East Coast,” Cerrato explained. “Few, if any, of our guys have been to both Texas and Louisiana, so these particular trips will be great for them in terms of experiencing different parts of the country.”
Rhody will open the month of March at NC State, before heading to the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, N.C. for the USA Baseball-Irish Classic. There, the Rams will take on Monmouth (March 4), Notre Dame (March 4) and William & Mary (March 5).
Rhode Island will then travel to Arkansas for the program’s first-ever series against the Razorbacks. The three-game set – scheduled to be played March 10-12 – also marks the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Rams take on an SEC program. Since 2010, URI has also traveled to play at South Carolina (2016), Florida (2015, 2011), Ole Miss (2013), Mississippi State (2013, 2010) and Vanderbilt (2012).
“Arkansas is a premier program that finishes in the NCAA’s top three or four in attendance each year,” Cerrato said. “Baum Stadium is one of the best environments for college baseball in the country. We love the challenge of playing high-level SEC and ACC teams. Since I joined the program in 2012, through the games we have scheduled in 2019, we will play at least 45 games against SEC or ACC opponents.”
Three additional meetings with William & Mary follow, as the Rams travel to Williamsburg, Va. for a weekend series March 17-19.
URI’s first game in the Northeast will be a March 21 contest at Sacred Heart.
From there, Atlantic 10 play begins March 24-26 at Davidson before a pair of midweek games at Quinnipiac (March 28) and Northeastern (March 29).
“We have a very challenging start to our season – not only with the level of competition we’re going to face, but also with playing our first 23 games on the road,” Cerrato said. “Our staff and student-athletes love these challenges though. I also believe that spending the first five to six weeks together on the road can really help bring a ball club together.”
The Rams finally return to Kingston for their home-opener on Friday, March 31 against Saint Louis. URI and SLU will also play at Bill Beck Field on April 1 and April 2.
Rhody will then hit the road for two more non-conference games – at UMass Lowell (April 4) and Bryant (April 5) – before traveling to St. Bonaventure for a conference series with the Bonnies (April 7-9).
The Rams return to The Beck to host a pair of midweek games against Brown (April 11) and Holy Cross (April 12) before a stretch of eight consecutive road games from April 14-26. During that span, URI will play three at Richmond (April 14-16), one at Hartford (April 19), three at George Washington (April 21-23) and one at UConn (April 26).
An 11-game homestand follows, as Rhody returns to campus to host a three-game series with Fordham (April 28-30), a doubleheader against Maine (May 3), a three-game series against UMass (May 5-7) and a three-game series against George Mason (May 12-14).
“The Atlantic 10 will be very competitive again this year,” Cerrato added. “Numerous teams are going to have the talent to win the league. One of our main goals this year is to get back to the conference tournament to defend our title.”
With URI’s A-10 bye week coming during the final week of the league play, the Rams will close out the regular season with a single game against UConn (May 16) and a pair of contests against Bryant (May 18-19).
The 2017 Atlantic 10 Championship will be held at Saint Louis’ Billiken Sports Complex, May 24-27.