This should be an exciting year in the MAAC with four-to-five teams that could easily take home the championship. I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out in the MAAC with several good teams.
Canisius College (2017 Record: 35-22, 16-8)
It was a disappointing end to what was a great regular season for Canisius in which they won 35 games and 16 conference games. However, they went two-and-out in the MAAC Baseball Tournament.
Liam Wilson returns to the lineup after hitting .343 last year with 41 runs scored, 18 doubles, 3 home runs and 38 RBI. Ryan Stekl hit .333 a year ago with 42 runs scored, 17 doubles, 4 home runs, 41 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Christ Conley hit .299 in 157 at-bats with 28 runs scored, 3 home runs and 41 RBI. And Mark McKenna hit .328 last year in 122 at-bats with 21 runs scored, 1 home run and 19 RBI. The next best average on the team last year was .268. So while there is a solid core there, they could use some help in the lineup. That could come in the form of a couple of junior college transfers in Connor Morro and Canice Ejoh.
Andrew Sipowicz led the team with a 3.48 ERA last year in 82.2 innings pitched with 65 strikeouts. J.P. Stevenson was right behind him with a 3.65 ERA in 93.2 innings pitched with 69 strikeouts. Tyler Smith was dynamite as the team’s closer last year with a 0.30 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched with 43 strikeouts and 11 saves. Senior transfer Charlie Sobiereski will help add some depth to this pitching staff.
“We need our starting pitching to become more consistent. We lacked a true ace last year, and a few of our sophomores showed flashes but couldn’t string multiple games together. We will be deeper on the mound this year and should have a new mentality as a staff when it comes to attacking hitters. We have a pool of six guys that could start for us based on their stuff- We need them to compete more and become assassins on the mound. We need more from our role players offensively. We have a solid/proven four hitters in our lineup, and we have a lot of talent in the supporting roles, but they need to put it together once the season starts. If our lineup can become deeper than our big four, we’ll see more pitches to hit and could become a challenge for opposing pitching staffs.” – Head Coach Matt Mazurek
Fairfield (2017 Record: 31-24, 17-7)
Fairfield started the season just 3-9, but went on to win 31 overall games and 17 conference games. They won the first game of the MAAC Baseball Tournament, but then dropped the next two games.
Shortstop Jack Gethings is back after leading the team with a .355 average a year ago, while scoring 48 runs, driving in 40 and stealing 13 bases. Centerfielder Drew Arciuolo hit .326 last year with 46 runs scored, 3 home runs, 32 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Kevin Radziewicz should return at catcher after hitting .315 last year with 34 runs scored, 3 home runs and 44 RBI. That’s three solid players to build a lineup around. Freshman Giacomo Brancato will get a chance to start in the outfield. Eric Cerno is a transfer who should get some playing time on the infield. Anthony Boselli is expected to be the team’s first baseman, while Mike Caruso should get some time behind the plate.
John Signore should be the team’s Friday night starter after going 7-2 with a 3.26 ERA last year in 85.2 innings pitched with 76 strikeouts. Ian Halpin was good out of the bullpen last year with an ERA of 1.00 in 27 innings pitched. Freshman Trey McLoughlin is expected to have an immediate impact on the pitching staff.
Head Coach Bill Currier said he hopes to see the team improve on the right side of the infield, as well as build some depth in the pitching staff.
Iona (2017 Record: 25-26, 14-10)
It was an up-and-down year for Iona as they won just 11 games out-of-conference, but were 14-10 in conference and fought their way to the MAAC Tournament championship game before falling to Marist.
Outfielder Fran Kinsey hit .319 last year with 35 runs scored and 38 RBI. Shortstop Sean Scales hit .265 a year ago with 33 RBI. A couple of other hitters also return who picked up significant at-bats last year.
Ryan Patrick should return to lead the rotation after posting a 3.00 ERA last year in 69 innings pitched with 44 strikeouts. Joe DeRosa should also return as a weekend starter after posting a 3.34 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched with 38 strikeouts.
The pitching staff for Iona should be very good in 2018. The question will be how quickly the lineup can come together, and if they can improve on last year’s numbers.
Manhattan (2017 Record: 18-35, 12-12)
It was a rough start to the 2017 season for Manhattan as they started just 3-13, but they finished 12-12 in conference play. However, they went two-and-out in the MAAC Tournament.
Brendan Bisset led the team with a .335 average last year with 21 runs scored, 11 doubles, 1 home run and 29 RBI. Catcher Fabian Pena hit .330 a year ago with 29 runs scored, 24 doubles, 3 home runs and 32 RBI. Outside of those two there are several other solid hitters back in the lineup.
T.J. Stuart was solid out of the bullpen last year with a 4.19 ERA in 19.1 innings pitched with 22 strikeouts. But Manhattan loses its three best pitchers, including its top two starters, from 2017.
With all this team is losing from the pitching staff, it’s hard to see them even reaching last year’s .500 mark in conference play.
Marist (2017 Record: 32-23, 16-8)
Marist had a big win over Mississippi State early in the year proving they were for real. After winning 16 conference games they breezed through the MAAC Tournament and moved onto the Gainesville Regional where they lost to Florida and Bethune-Cookman.
Outfielder Frank Gregoire is back after an excellent sophomore season in which he hit .297 with 46 runs scored, 8 doubles, 9 home runs, 43 RBI and 9 stolen bases. Randy Taveras should be back in the middle of the lineup after hitting .303 last year with 33 runs scored, 7 doubles, 4 home runs, 24 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 165 at-bats. He’ll play somewhere on the infield in 2018. Infielder Tyler Kapuscinski led the team with a .335 average last year and figures to be a big part of the lineup. Third baseman Andrew Rouse was second on the team with a .311 average to go along with 35 runs scored, 13 doubles, 3 home runs and 34 RBI. Transfer Jordan Roper can play shortstop or center field and will contribute immediately. As will two-way freshman outfielder Nick Cantone.
Charlie Jerla should retain a spot in the weekend rotation after posting a 4.08 ERA last year in 70.2 innings pitched with 69 strikeouts on his way to being named the 2017 MAAC Pitcher of the Year. Tony Romanelli was great out of the bullpen for Marist last year with a 3.24 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched with 47 strikeouts. He was named the MAAC Tournament MVP. Others in the pitching staff will need to step up if Marist is going to repeat as MAAC champions.
Head Coach Chris Tracz is looking for consistency on the mound and defensively in 2018. He also said he’d like to be able to use their depth “to stay healthy and productive throughout the 50-plus game season.”
Monmouth (2017 Record: 20-28, 11-13)
It was a bit of a down year for Monmouth as they had a losing conference record and won just nine games out-of-conference.
First baseman Shaine Hughes was granted a fifth year of eligibility, which is great for Monmouth as he led the team with a .359 average last year to go along with 36 runs scored, 14 doubles, 5 home runs and 30 RBI. Pete Papcun should also be back after hitting .299 a year ago with 5 home runs and 44 RBI. Outside of those two seniors, they lose almost everyone else from their 2017 lineup.
Joe Molettiere should be back after posting a 3.74 ERA last year in 55.1 innings pitched with 55 strikeouts. He made four starts in 19 appearances. Jordan McCrum and Tyler Ksiazek are also back after starting the most games and pitching the most innings for Monmouth last year. Ryan Lillie had a 2.55 ERA in 35.1 innings pitched with 27 strikeouts.
Even though they have two senior leaders back in their lineup, they’ll need some inexperienced players to step up behind them. The pitching staff should be OK assuming those coming back take a step forward.
Niagara (2017 Record: 24-24, 12-12)
It was about as even as a year as you can have for Niagara in 2017 with a .500 record overall and in conference play. They’ll try to improve on that in 2018.
Outfielder Trevor McCauly is back after hitting .367 last year with 24 runs scored, 14 doubles, 2 home runs, 29 RBI and 7 stolen bases. Shortstop Greg Cullen hit .341 last year with 30 runs scored, 8 doubles, 2 home runs, 33 RBI and 7 stolen baes. First baseman Peter Battaglia hit .317 a year ago with 32 runs scored, 11 doubles, 4 home runs and 48 RBI.
Cody Eckerson should return to the starting rotation after posting a 2.29 ERA last year in 55 innings pitched with 50 strikeouts. Nate Mascellino had a 2.67 ERA in 57.1 innings pitched with 32 strikeouts, while Matthew Brash posted a 2.79 ERA in 77.1 innings pitched with 63 strikeouts.
There is enough coming back in the lineup and in the pitching staff for this team to make some noise in MAAC play this year.
Quinnipiac (2017 Record: 18-32, 11-13)
Quinnipiac hung around .500 for the beginning of last season, but struggled down the stretch. They had a winning record at home last year, but unfortunately for them they only had 14 home games.
Liam Scafariello is one of the biggest power bats in the country and returns after hitting 16 home runs last year with a .246 average, 35 runs scored, 39 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 24 walks and 82 strikeouts. Anthony Cruz hit just .173 last year, but is a solid defensive catcher for Quinnipiac. Center fielder Brian Moskey hit .284 last year with 26 runs scored, 10 doubles, 3 home runs and 23 RBI. A couple of freshman, Colton Bender (catcher) and Ian Ostberg (shortstop) could get some significant playing time this season.
Taylor Luciani and Chris Enns should garner weekend rotation spots after solid 2017 seasons. Luciani had a 3.48 ERA in 54.1 innings pitched with 33 strikeouts, while Enns posted a 2.09 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched with 37 strikeouts. Mike Davis was lights out as the team’s closer last year with a 0.96 ERA in 28 innings pitched with 29 strikeouts. Tyler Poulin is a transfer that features a fastball in the low 90s that could have an immediate impact on this lineup.
“(This) team is extremely young but has a lot of weapons (that are) expected to contribute in the spring. Many moving parts and a very versatile group of players with four starters that can play multiple positions on the field. Athletic ability will show on the base paths with a very pressure mind set team. Veteran pitching staff with three upper classmen in the starting rotation with a very good quality defensive team this year. Defense and pitching will be better.” – Head Coach John Delaney
Rider (2017 Record: 24-28-1, 12-12)
Rider just barely qualified for the MAAC Tournament with a 12-12 record. There they went 1-2 and saw their season end.
Second baseman Kyle Johnson is the team’s leading retuning hitter after batting .285 last year with 31 runs scored, 10 doubles, 2 home runs, 18 RBI and 13 stolen bases. Riley Mihalik is also back after hitting .279 with 34 runs scored, with 12 doubles, 5 home runs and 28 RBI. Richie Tecco, Harrison McClure and Jake Bender also return after receiving significant playing time last year.
Jordan Silverman was solid out of the bullpen last year with a 3.94 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched with 25 strikeouts. John Yocum and Pete Soporowski should return to the starting rotation. Yocum had a 5.45 ERA in 69.1 innings pitched with 67 strikeouts, while Soporowski had a 6.95 ERA in 66 innings pitched with 44 strikeouts.
Rider loses a lot in the lineup, but has enough coming back in the pitching staff to compete. But if they want to improve on last year’s success they’ll need to find some players that can breakout offensively.
Saint Peter’s (2017 Record: 0-38, 0-24)
To say it was a rough 2017 season for Saint Peter’s is putting it lightly. They were the only team in college baseball not to win a single game.
Catcher Mike Ionta should be back after hitting .273 last year with a team-high 16 runs scored and 16 RBI. First baseman Jesse Matos hit .266 last year as a freshman.
Willie Krajnik should return to the starting rotation after starting nine games a year ago. But this team does lose three of its top pitchers from 2017.
I want to root for this team after failing to win a game in 2017, but it’s hard to see things getting much better with what they lost to graduation.
Siena (2017 Record: 20-28-2, 11-13)
Siena got off to a bad start losing their first eight games of the season, and things didn’t get much better as they failed to get into the MAAC Baseball Tournament.
First baseman Joe Drpich is back after leading the team with a .346 average last year to go along with 33 runs scored, 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 46 RBI. Second baseman Jordan Bishop hit .313 with 22 runs scored, 13 doubles, and 24 RBI in 160 at-bats last year. Brian Kelly should be back at third base after hitting .323 last year with 24 runs scored, 4 home runs, 22 RBI and 9 stolen bases. Newcomer Marcos Campos is expected to get the start at shortstop.
Brendan White returns after starting 14 games a year ago and posting a 4.96 ERA in 69 innings pitched with 38 strikeouts. Matt Pierce was solid out of the bullpen last year with a 3.21 ERA in 28 innings pitched with 17 strikeouts. Danny Hobbs had a 3.54 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts. Dylan D’Anna posted a 4.50 ERA in 42 innings pitched last year with 49 strikeouts. Avery Short is expected to come in and have an immediate impact on this pitching staff.
Head Coach Tony Rossi noted that he would like to see the pitching staff improve its overall ERA, while also limiting walks. He added that he would like to see the team defense improve, in particular in the double-play department.
2018 All-MAAC Preseason Team:
C: Fabian Pena (Manhattan)
1B: Joe Drpich (Siena)
2B: Randy Taveras (Marist)
SS: Jack Gethings (Fairfield)
3B: Brian Kelly (Siena)
OF: Frank Gregoire (Marist)
OF: Drew Arciuolo (Fairfield)
OF: Fran Kinsey (Iona)
DH: Liam Wilson (Canisius)
SP: John Signore (Fairfield)
SP: Andrew Sipowicz (Canisius)
SP: J.P. Stevenson (Canisius)
SP: Matthew Brash (Niagara)
SP: Ryan Patrick (Iona)
RP: Tyler Smith (Canisius)
RP: Mike Davis (Qinnipiac)
RP: Ian Halpin (Fairfield)
C: Kevin Radziewicz (Fairfield)
1B: Peter Battaglia (Niagara)
1B: Ryan Stekl (Canisius)
3B: Andrew Rouse (Marist)
OF: Shaine Hughes (Monmouth)
OF: Trevor McCauly (Niagara)
DH: Liam Scafariello (Quinnipiac)
SP: Ryan Patrick (Iona)
SP: Charlie Jerla (Marist)
SP: Chris Enns (Quinnipiac)
RP: Tony Romanelli (Marist)
Predicted Order to Finish: Canisius
- Saint Peter’s