Just when we thought we were done with the snow, huh? Yet another weekend with a bunch of games cancelled, and these are conference games we’re talking about now. There was just enough turf and warmth for some teams to get outside up north, and a few were lucky enough to be playing down south. If you’re on grass, though, you better hope your facilities guys have an incentive-laden contract. They’ve got a busy week ahead if we don’t want to be canceling into the last weekend of March.
On the field, nobody really blew the doors off. None of the can’t-miss 4-0 and 5-0 weeks we’ve been seeing. Still, though, some good weeks, and plenty of exciting baseball. More after the jump.
Team of the Week: Harvard‘s excellent start to the season continued. After suffering a sweep down at Stetson last weekend, the Crimson came back with a flourish, sweeping a doubleheader against UMass and taking three of four from Army, one of the Patriot League’s better teams. The offense put up at least eight runs in each of those five wins. Senior cleanup hitter Ethan Ferreira lead the way, going 12-24 with seven RBI and a pair of home runs on the week. Fellow senior Jake McGuiggan added seven RBI of his own and now leads the team with 14. The Crimson now stand at 10-8 at the start of Ivy League play. Dating back to the start of the league’s modern era in 1993, that’s the most wins they’ve had before the start of conference games. That’s helped them to a #17 ranking in the RPI, tops in New England.
The Massachusetts team that Harvard beat went on to have a great weekend of its own, sweeping Dayton to open up A-10 play. This isn’t the same Flyers team that made the NCAAs in 2012, but they were picked 6th in the 13-team league, and the Minutemen took it to them. Conor LeBlanc was dominant in Friday’s 5-0 win, allowing just two hits over eight innings. The offense took over in Saturday’s 11-3 win, with center-fielder Kyle Adie going 4-6 with two RBI. Things were a little more tense on Sunday. The Minutemen led 7-3 when Andrew Grant exited after a seven-inning, ten-strikeout performance, but the Flyers got four back in the 8th to force extras. In the 10th, a two-out RBI from Rob McLam, but Dayton struck back in the bottom half to tie the game. Right-fielder Adam Picard had to gun down the potential winning run at the plate to keep things alive, but that he did, and a two-RBI single from defensive replacement Bryce Maher helped win it in the 12th. If the Minutemen can replicate this, they’ll be looking at something like 2012’s 20-win season and A-10 tourney berth, not the struggles of the past couple years.
Connecticut posted another strong week, taking a series from a Seton Hall team expected to contend with St. John’s and Creighton in the Big East. In the opener, Carson Cross was dominant once again, striking out seven and allowing just two hits in 8.2 innings of a 1-0 win. The Huskies got shut out in the middle game, but came back to win the rubber match behind a 4-4 day from Vinny Siena. That’s the fourth quality road series win for the Huskies ahead of AAC play. Conference showdowns like the one against Tulane next week will be critical if they want to continue their run at an at-large bid. It won’t be easy, since they get all of the conference’s big three of the Green Wave, Central Florida, and Houston on the road, but UConn’s play so far shows that going away from Storrs might not be such a big problem.
Along with the boys from Cambridge, a pair of other Ivy Leaguers had good weeks. Yale went 2-0 in a pair of midweekers, beating Hartford 23-8 and edging UMass Lowell 8-7 in 10 innings. (The Hartford game marks the fourth this year in which either Yale or their opponents have put up 20 runs.) The Bulldogs are now 6-4 on the season and within the RPI top 100. Brown, meanwhile, got an extra-inning 8-7 win of their against to take a series against Georgetown. I was Shirley Povich Field for the game, and you can read my recap here. Next weekend, the Bulldogs and Bears will play flipped doubleheaders against Princeton and Cornell.
Two other teams got off to solid starts in conference play. After taking two in the midweek, Rhode Island went 1-2 at Saint Louis. That’s a great result on the road against the conference favorites. Seven strong from Tyler Wilson and a three-run homer from Mike Corin helped the Rams to a 9-6 win on Sunday. Hartford is off to a 3-1 start in AEC play. The Hawks completed a series win over UMBC last Monday, then proceeded to take a game from Maine before the cold ended the series prematurely. Ryan Lukach homered for the fourth time this year in the 10-5 win over the Black Bears.
Team of the Week: The cold and snow took a hatchet to last week’s Division II slate, but Franklin Pierce kept on rolling to the tune of a 6-1 week. Even after losing their first game of the year (6-5 to Mount Olive on Tuesday), the Ravens came right back and thrashed the top-10 Trojans on Wednesday. In a 10-1 win, seven FPU starters had multiple hits. Matt Walsh went 4-4, and Jay Jabs homered twice (he’s got six on the season now). On the mound, Mike Lundin went the distance, scattering seven hits and fanning ten. Back north, the Ravens swept New Haven in a Saturday doubleheader. That puts them at 19-1 on the year heading into their showdown with Southern New Hampshire on Wednesday.
Speaking of the Penmen, Southern New Hampshire went 2-0 in a weather-ravaged week, sweeping Merrimack 5-4 and 12-1 last Monday. Ryan Gendron went 3-6 and drove in three between the two games, and David Gibson got his third win of the season in the back end. Merrimack recovered to get a two-game sweep of its own down at Pace on Sunday. Cam Disarcina and Sean O’Neill each had a double, triple, and multiple RBI in an 11-0 win in the opener. Saint Anselm, in their lone game this week, came back from a two-run ninth-inning defeat to beat AIC. Ken Morrisino had the key hit, a two-RBI single that turned a 4-3 deficit into the winning 5-4 margin.
If the weather took a hatchet to Division II’s games, it axe-murdered Division III’s. If you weren’t in Florida or on turf, you weren’t playing. Luckily, a good amount of teams happened to be on one of those two. Nobody blew the doors off, but a lot of teams had quality weeks.
Team of the Week: Eastern Connecticut had a big week to wrap up their Florida trip, going 3-1 and notching a 7-6 win against #5 Birmingham-Southern. It was the home half of the fourth before either team logged a scoreless inning, but the game quieted down after that, and Adam Merritt was stellar in relief. He went the final 3.2, giving up only an unearned run on three hits. Cleanup man Andrew Scully came up big at the plate, doubling and homering on a four-RBI day. The Warriors also beat power-conference contenders Babson and Ramapo, and their only loss came at the hands of #3 Cortland State.
The rest of the Little East had a strong week as well. Southern Maine, who checked in as the regional #1 in the first NEIBA poll, went 2-1 to wrap up their Florida trip, beating Rowan and Worcester State. Leadoff man Paul McDonough had a big game in the win over the New Jersey school (3-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI). UMass Boston, Keene State, and Western Connecticut all turned in solid 4-2 weeks. The Beacons led the way with a huge walkoff win over #3 Cortland on Thursday. Dan Mantoni gave head coach Brendan Eygabroat eight strong, and freshman Coley Barker singled in the winning run in the ninth. Also in Florida, the Owls’ week included a doubleheader sweep of Lesley that saw senior catcher Matt Boulay go 4-8 with four RBI. So much for doubleheaders sucking the energy out of catchers. And finally, WCSU recovered from a pair of Monday losses to win the last four games of their southern trip. That stretch started with a wild 7-6 win over Saint Mary’s that saw 26 hits, ten walks, five errors, and five ninth-inning runs. Peter Nanos led the way with three RBI, including two that proved key in the 9th.
The MASCAC’s strong play continued with winning weeks from Worcester State and Framingham State. The Lancers’ 4-2 mark featured an 8-4 win over Southern Maine. A six-run 2nd paced WSU, and the pitching duo of Tyler Barrie and Joe Perlak didn’t allow an earned run. Framingham’s 5-3 mark may look worse in comparison, but those three losses were 6-4 and 5-4 to Amherst, followed by 12-11 to #1 UW-Whitewater. The Rams ended their week by sweeping Trinity, 5-2 and 2-1. RJ Gray’s walkoff walk won the back end after Zachary Kirby went nine and struck out ten.
A pair of programs coming off tough 2014’s had good weeks. Rivier (3-27 last year) went 2-1, getting wins over Eastern Nazarene and Gallaudet. In the latter game, Taylor Black went 3-4 with a homer, his second of the season. MCLA (3-23 last year) went 4-2 in central Florida, including a 26-run day in a sweep of Colby-Sawyer. Tyler Benoit drove in four in the first game, and Slayter Aubin added four of his own in the second.
In the NECC, Becker stayed perfect in conference play by sweeping Elms. Starters Nick Lemay and Tyler Wagar combined to strike out 14 and not allow any earned runs. Newbury took two of three close games from Lesley as part of a 4-1 week. Their only blemish was a 1-0 loss to Billy Cather’s Lynx. Southern Vermont had a 3-1 week in Florida that included a crazy 16-15 win over Crown. In a seven-inning game that had 35 hits (!), SVC trailed 10-6 after five and a half. They put up five to take an 11-10 lead into the final inning, then gave up five of their own. They showed a lot of resilience in coming back with another five to win. RJ Pingitore’s bases-loaded single scored the winning run for the Mountaineers.
Elsewhere, a couple good weeks out of the NESCAC East from Colby (3-1) and Tufts (6-2). WPI ran its record to 9-4 and entered the NEIBA poll at #5, ahead of traditional powers like Endicott, Wheaton, and Eastern Connecticut.