BOSTON – The two-time defending GNAC Champion is expected to three-peat as the Suffolk baseball team has been selected as the favorite to the win the crown in the 2017 GNAC preseason coaches' poll, the conference office announced Thursday afternoon.
The Rams top the poll with 59 points thanks to five first-place nods, while familiar foe St. Joseph's (Maine), who has sat atop the poll for the previous five seasons, is just two points behind the blue-and-gold in second with 57 and the remaining five-place votes.
The preseason frontrunner has gone on to win the regular season on five occasions and hoisted the postseason trophy six times, while the second spot prediction, the Monks, holds six postseason crowns and four regular season titles.
Suffolk claimed the GNAC postseason title in 2016 and advanced to their sixth and first ever back-to-back NCAA appearance, finishing with a 33-13 overall record, the most wins in New England and the second-most victories in the program's 69-year history. In 2017, reigning GNAC Coach of the Year Anthony DelPrete, who has led Suffolk to two straight GNAC titles in as many years as the Rams' head coach, returns 23 letterwinners from a year ago including NEIBA first-team selection, centerfielder Brady Chant and third-team all-region right-handed pitcher Kevin Sinatra. Also back in the lineup is GNAC Pitcher of the Year southpaw Worth Walrod, GNAC Tournament MVP catcher Matt Brenner and all-league honorees infielders Kevin Belskie and Sean Cameron and outfielder Luke Ronchi. The Rams welcome six recruits to their ranks for the 70th season of Suffolk baseball.
The Rams' banner year last season was thanks in large part to leading the GNAC in virtually every offensive category scoring over 100 more runs than their conference counterparts with 345. The 95 stolen bases total rewrote the Rams records, while 483 hits stand as the third most by a Suffolk lineup (500 in 2011). Suffolk led teams in batting average (.320), slugging percentage (.458), on-base percentage (.415), doubles (84), triples (17), home runs (38) and RBI (300). The pitching staff posted a league-best 3.38 ERA, which is the lowest since Suffolk led the nation in 2000 with a program-best 2.69. Suffolk also excelled in the field, registering a .963 fielding percentage, which is a league- and program-best.
Lasell (46) checks in at No. 3, while Johnson & Wales (45) and Albertus Magnus (28) close out the top five. Rivier (25), Anna Maria (18) and Norwich (10) file out the remainder of the poll.
The 2017 season gets underway at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational Friday, March 10 versus St. John Fisher. The 9:15 a.m. first pitch kicks off a 10-day, 10-game Spring Break trip for the Rams.
|2017 GNAC BASEBALL PRESEASON COACHES' POLL|
2. St. Joseph's (Maine)
4. Johnson & Wales
5. Albertus Magnus
7. Anna Maria
|2016 GNAC RECORD