As you may have seen on Twitter, I trekked down to southwest Virginia (where Quinnipiac, Hartford, and UConn were playing) and caught some great baseball this past weekend. Those teams might’ve preferred it if I stayed home (we’re 1-6 on the year with me in attendance), but thankfully, I couldn’t be everywhere, and New England’s strong start to 2016 continued. Central Connecticut headlined a slew of winning weekends in Division I, Franklin Pierce and Southern New Hampshire are off to matching 9-0 starts in D2, and NECC favorites Mitchell and Elms are off to perfect starts on their Florida trips. All that and more more after the jump.
Team of the Week: They weren’t the only team to play well this week, but Central Connecticut set themselves apart with a road sweep of Patriot League favorites Navy. In the opener, the Blue Devils’ Andrew Hinckley outdueled Navy’s all-everything ace Luke Gillingham in a 3-2 win. On Saturday, game two looked like it might swing the Middies’ way after they jumped out to a first inning lead, but from there on, the series was all Central. In 9-2 and 8-1 wins, the Blue Devils pounded out 27 hits by the bay in Annapolis. In the finale, junior Brett Susi left nothing to chance with an excellent (8 IP, 4 H, 1 R) start on the mound. CCSU will look to keep this momentum going into this Wednesday’s home opener with Hartford and a big NEC-opening series with Bryant in two weeks’ time.
Hartford and Bryant, as it happens, had winning weekends of their own. The Hawks traveled to Radford and got a series win to continue their best start in their Division I history. On Friday, they put a hurting on the Highlanders (the #2 in Vandy’s regional a year ago) thanks to Kyle Gauthier’s seven shutout innings and a 12-run, 18-hit attack led by Erik Ostberg (4-6, 2 RBI) and Ben Bengston (3-5, 3B, 3 RBI). I caught the series decider on Saturday, when some timely hitting from Ostberg, Bengston, and TJ Ward helped David Drouin (6 IP, 5 H, 6 K, 0 R) to earn the win in his first outing in nearly two years. They dropped a close one in the finale, but that does nothing to change the fact that Hartford’s off to a red-hot start. They’ll have a chance to make some noise nationally in next weekend’s trip to UC Santa Barbara (already Tony Gwynn Classic champions and winners over UCLA and Oregon on the year).
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, continued their own hot start (8-2) with a road series win over George Mason. They dropped the middle game by a run, but sandwiched the loss with 12-2 and 7-0 wins. On Friday, James Karinchak struck out a ridiculous 13 of the 23 batters he faced in his six scoreless, one-hit innings, and Robby Rinn led the offense with three XBH and four RBI. (Karinchak’s effort earned him one of Collegiate Baseball‘s National Player of the Week awards.) On Sunday, James Davitt’s own six inning, one-hit performance sent the Bulldogs home with the series win. Bryant hasn’t lost a weekend yet, and next weekend’s trip to Maryland provides a chance to further bolster a non-conference resume that already features wins over San Diego State and Kentucky.
Elsewhere, the Bay State trio of Boston College, Northeastern, and UMass Lowell each turned in winning weekends. (With all due respect to the teams the Eagles and Huskies faced, it probably seemed like a step down from their games with the Red Sox on Monday.) BC notched a pair of tennis-score Big Ten wins in Port Charlotte, 6-3 over Northwestern and 6-2 over Ohio State, with freshman Gian Martinelli driving in three against the Wildcats and Jesse Adams striking out six Buckeyes in six on Sunday. The Eagles, now 9-1, couldn’t be feeling better heading into next weekend’s ACC opener with NC State. The Huskies, meanwhile, shut out Cornell twice behind Aaron Civale and James Mulry to climb above .500 (6-5) ahead of next weekend’s trip to Washington State. UML, finally, took two of three at Delaware’s Bob Hannah Invitational, with Andrew Ryan’s performance against Delaware State (7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 10 K) highlighting the weekend.
Elsewhere, UConn (at Liberty) and Quinnipiac (at Virginia Tech) each took a game from tricky roadies in Virginia, Rhode Island notched a win over Big South contenders Winthrop, Harvard went 2-2 and beat the hosts at the Wake Forest Tournament, and Brown showed well at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic in Cary (beat Bucknell, lost 7-6 to Notre Dame, 2-0 to Alabama).
(Once again, I had to go with three here, but you won’t find me complaining when FPU and SNHU continue to rack up wins and a team like Post has a big weekend.)
Co-Team of the Week: Franklin Pierce continued their winning ways this past weekend, allowing only five total runs in doubleheader sweeps of Adelphi and Dowling. Against the Panthers, Miles Sheehan struck out 11 in eight scoreless to win the opener 4-0, and a three-run 4th was enough for them to squeak by in game two, despite being outhit 10-4. On Sunday, Dowling managed to keep things close until the late innings in both games, but on the day, a combined 11 runs in the 8th inning or later saw FPU through, 7-2 and 10-1. Senior first baseman Matt O’Herron drove in seven on the day.
Co-Team of the Week: Southern New Hampshire swept Felician for a four-win weekend on their own trip to the New York metro area. The Penmen came from behind in three of the games, taking advantage of some Felician miscues to rally for a six-run 9th in a 7-4 win in the opener, then scoring 11 unanswered to come back from 4-1 down again in the finale. In that last win, Justin Valdespina K’d nine in six, and Mike Mastroberti went 5-5 with 3 RBI. The Penmen are off until they head down to Florida for next week, with the first game back coming against a Molloy team that swept Merrimack over the weekend.
Co-Team of the Week: For all of FPU and SNHU’s continued success, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Post here. The Eagles pitched their way to a big doubleheader sweep of Stonehill on Saturday to kick off their week in Palm Beach. JuCo transfer Matthew D’Ariano tossed a seven-inning shutout in a 1-0 win in the opener, and Nick Arnold struck out 11 in a complete game win of his own to take game two, 2-1 (that one run was unearned). Post then capped off a perfect weekend with a 6-2 win over Nyack, in which Enzo Esposito struck out 11 in six. All in all, a big weekend for the Eagles, who finish off the Florida trip against LIU Post and Stonehill this week before meetings with Saint Rose and #5 Millersville next weekend.
Elsewhere, shouts are in order for New Haven, who bounced back from a tough weekend in Myrtle Beach to sweep a doubleheader from Queens– Robert Petrillo went 5-6 on the day, and Kellen Croce struck out nine in a seven-inning shutout in game two– and AIC, who posted a nice Sunday win over Wilmington behind a complete game from Colin Sledzik.
Co-Team of the Week: Elms got off to a stellar start in Florida over the weekend, sweeping doubleheaders from Illinois College and Hiram. The Blazers’ arms got the job done on Saturday against an IC team expected to contend for its league title. Senior Tom Weldon struck out seven in seven in a 2-1 win in game one, and classmate Andrew Sadowski struck out five in six to earn a 4-1 win in game two. On Sunday, Elms trailed the NCAC’s Terriers early in game one, but five in the 5th and eight in the 7th saw them cruise to a 13-3 win– Jordan Zima and Nolan Medeiros each doubled and drove in three. And in the finale, freshman righty Tom Owens fanned 11 in six to complete the perfect weekend.
Co-Team of the Week: Elms’ conference mates Mitchell, meanwhile, had a perfect weekend of their own that included two conference wins. They opened on Friday by handing 5-0 Otterbein their first loss of the season (the Cardinals opened up their season the week before with a win over Division I Chicago State, then put up 65 runs in a three-game sweep of North Central (MN)). Three-hit days from Tristan Hurley and Garet Griffin and two RBI from Steven Pagan built a 7-2 lead heading into the ninth, and the Mariners held off an Otterbein rally to win 7-6. On Sunday, the Mariners completed a 3-0 weekend with a conference doubleheader sweep of Newbury. Al Jordan Johnson fanned eight and got the win in a 3-2 opener, and Kyle Hartenstein’s RBI single gave them a 4-3 walkoff win in the back end.
Many teams kick off their seasons in the week ahead, but several of those in action this past weekend notched multiple wins. Gordon split with Waynesburg on Saturday, then swept Anna Maria to earn headlines on D3Baseball. In game two’s 4-0 win, senior righty Scott Hall threw a one-hit shutout, striking out 13 in the process. Elsewhere, Taylor Reuillard and Dennis Meehan homered in Saint Joseph‘s DH sweep of WPI, Bridgewater State took two from Apprentice (Scott Holmes K’d nine in a seven-inning shutout), and Clark put up 25 in a sweep of Penn State Altoona.
Back north, Worcester State took to the road to sweep a doubleheader against SUNY Purchase, running their 2016 record to 5-0. In Fort Myers, Coast Guard‘s Ed Lazowski got the walkoff RBI in the Bears’ wild 15-14 extra-inning win over Baruch. And finally, Dylan Angelo’s nine-inning shutout ran Southern Vermont‘s winning streak to three in a 1-0 result over Gallaudet.