BOSTON – Suffolk baseball jet set to warm weather for its season opener as the Rams landed in the Sunshine State Wednesday night to compete in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational March 10-18.
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RUSSMATT CENTRAL FLORIDA INVITATIONAL
The annual RussMatt Central Florida Invitational hosts over 200 colleges across all divisions for their Spring Break trips. Suffolk's tournament field features stiff competition as three of its 10 foes are ranked in the latest D3Baseball.com Top 25 in No. 6 Ramapo, No. 9 St. John Fisher and #20 TCNJ with Washington (Mo.) also receiving votes. The Rams will also face tests against Dickinson, Gordon, Montclair State, Rochester Institute of Technology and Rutgers Camden.
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Suffolk captured the 2016 GNAC title, its second-straight conference crown, and the program's first-ever back-to-back trophy heist and trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Rams put together the most wins among New England schools at a 33-13 clip, which also stands as the second-most in program history.
Suffolk led the GNAC in virtually every offensive category in 2017, scoring over 100 more runs than their next closest competition with 345. The 95 stolen bases total set a program record, while 483 hits stand as the third most by a Suffolk lineup (500 in 2011). Suffolk paced all GNAC teams in batting average (.327), slugging percentage (.467), on-base percentage (.415), doubles (84), triples (17), home runs (38) and RBI (300). The pitching staff posted a league-best 3.32 ERA, which is the lowest since Suffolk led the nation in 2000 with a program-best 2.69. The Rams also held a league and program-top fielding percentage of .963.
A LOOK AT THE 2017 SLATE
Suffolk will again play a 14-game conference schedule built around 26 non-league matchups with the 70th season's first pitch scheduled to take place in the Sunshine State at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. After the Rams' nine-day Spring Break trip, the team heads back to New England to battle a handful of local foes, before turning its weekend attention to league play.
The 2017 roster is comprised of 28 players – four freshmen, eight sophomores, eight juniors and eight seniors. The startling lineup in the field brings three regular starters back into the fold in catcher Matt Brenner, centerfielder Brady Chant and shortstop Sean Cameron.
Chant highlights the trio as the junior is coming off a NEIBA All-Region first-team, GNAC Tournament MVP, GNAC Golden Glove and All-GNAC First-Team season. The Warwick, Rhode Island, product's bat is the leader in returners in multiple categories; at bats (186), runs (49), hits (65), doubles (10), triples (9), which is a program single-season best, and total bases (99). Chant is also the most successful sniper on the bases, stealing 21 a year ago.
Brenner will anchor the defense behind the plate as the returning leader in putouts (245) and look to build upon his numbers at bat from a year ago. Cameron, meanwhile, holds down the toughest defensive position for Suffolk and will make his third straight start at short.
Last year's leading bat, senior Kevin Belskie, returns to the lineup. The All-GNAC first team selection paced Suffolk at the plate in batting average (.432) and slugging percentage (.625), which also led all GNAC players. Belskie will look to contribute to Suffolk's defense this season at first.
Seniors BJ Neil and Luke Ronchi will also return for their final year in blue-and-gold along with all-conference second team selection Seth Coiley in the hopes of adding more firepower to the Rams offense.
On the mound, Suffolk has a wealth of arms to choose from. A total of 13 pitchers populate the roster; eight rights, four southpaws; 12 exclusive and one who is also a position player. Suffolk's staff returns more than 75 percent of its starts, 69.8 percent of innings pitched and 64 percent of its strikeouts from last season.
Leading the way on the bump is reigning GNAC Pitcher of the Year Worth Walrod. Walrod, one of five Suffolk players last season to pick up first-team all-conference accolades, went 5-2 on the year in eight starts with victories over top league foes St. Joseph's (Maine) and Johnson & Wales. The two-time GNAC Corvias Pitcher of the Week also locked up wins over Wheaton and UMass Boston. In 49 2/3 innings pitching, Walrod punched out a total of 45 hitters, while posting a 2.72 ERA.
Undefeated arm Kevin Sinatra is welcomed back after an all-region third-team and second-team all-conference rookie campaign. The leftie from East Boston went a perfect 7-0 on the mound in nine appearances as a freshman. His 1.23 ERA stood as the lowest among New England hurlers, ninth among all NCAA Division III Pitchers and sits second all-time in Suffolk's season annals. He allowed just seven earned runs in 51 ½ innings pitched on the season and sat down 29 hitters. He tossed four complete games and won all four of his conference starts, allowing just two earned runs versus league foes. Sinatra threw a pair of complete-game shutouts last season against Rhode Island and Norwich.
Chuck Gibson returns to the hill for the Rams for the final time. In 56 innings pitched, he put together a 2.57 ERA, sitting down 53 batters for a 5-1 ledger in 10 appearances, eight of which he started. Classmates Tim Conroy and Wyatt Stanley will also take the mound for the Rams for their final collegiate campaigns looking to add depth to Suffolk's bull pen.
ON THE BENCH
Anthony Del Prete was named the sixth head coach in Suffolk baseball history in 2015 and enters his third season as the Rams' head coach. In his two seasons as skipper, Del Prete has guided Suffolk to the program's first-ever back-to-back GNAC Championships and NCAA Division III Regional Tournament appearances.
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THAT'S A FIRST
Suffolk will take the diamond after fresh competition this season. When the Rams visit the Sunshine State they will face Rutgers Camden and Washington (Mo.) for the first time in program history.
Since 1968, Suffolk has taken the field against 162 opponents. The Rams have not dropped a game to 46 of their all-time competition to hold an unbeaten record against .284 percent of their all-time foes. This season, Suffolk will attempt to remain undefeated against Gordon, Dickinson, Rampao and St. John Fisher.
Suffolk's GNAC twin bills against Albertus Magnus April 1, Norwich April 8 and Lasell April 23 will be part of a Rams' double feature, as the Suffolk softball team will host Norwich, Johnson & Wales and the Lasers on those dates.
GET THE WHOLE PICTURE
Ram Nation has a chance to preview the 2017 Suffolk baseball season and review the past in the official 2017 Suffolk Baseball Media Guide here.
SCOUTING THE FLORIDA FIELD
#9 ST. JOHN FISHER – TEAM WEBSITE – 2017 STATS – LIVE STATS
St. John Fisher, who is ranked ninth in the latest D3Baseball.com Top 25, is six games into its 2017 slate and holds a 4-2 mark heading into the Suffolk showdown. The Cardinal split a two-game series with John Hopkins before traveling to the Sunshine State where they defeated No. 24 Otterbein, 3-0, DeSales, 9-3 and Ohio Northern, 10-5.
Five different every day bats are producing over .300 batting averages led by Jack Trotman's .412. Nate Roethel, meanwhile, has seen action in all six contests to put together a .400 clip and a .760 slugging percentage on a team-best 20 hits in 25 plate appearances. Roethel brought home seven runners and crossed home plate five times himself. Scott Eisenmenger, who has also appeared in every outing for St. John Fisher, boasts a team-high RBI (12) with a .348 average.
Nearly every Cardinal pitcher has stepped on the mound already this season with Anthony Brophy and Jim Dawson leading the staff with 1.50 earned-run averages, respectively. Brophy owns two wins in 12.0 innings of work with a team-high 12 strikeouts. Dawson, who has also seen 12.0 innings, has sit down five of the 43 batters he faced.
#6 RAMAPO – TEAM WEBSITE – 2016 STATS – LIVE STATS
Ramapo will open its 2017 season against Suffolk in Florida March 11. The Roadrunners, who are under the guidance of Rich Martin for the 17th season, are currently ranked No. 6 in the D3Baseball.com Top 25 after a 35-12-1 campaign a year ago.
The Roadrunners return Connor Walsh, an all-conference honoree last season, who posted a .285 batting average with 49 hits, 12 doubles, one homer and drove in a team-high 36 RBI. Bobby Shannon returns to the lineup boasting a .319 average from last season thanks to 52 hits including nine doubles, three triples and three homeruns. Outfielder Rob DeAngelis rounds out the top returners after starting all 48 games last year, tallying a .316 average, collecting 56 hits, eight doubles, three triples, two home runs and went 11-for-13 on stolen bases.
On the hill, Ramapo welcomes back Jerry D'Andrea, who led the team with 10 saves. He posted a 2.57 ERA in 35 innings pitched with 34 strikeouts and 22 appearances.
MONTCLAIR STATE – TEAM WEBSITE – 2017 STATS – LIVE STATS
Montclair State is already eight games into its 2017 slate and will play twice more before taking on Suffolk Sunday, March 12. The Red Hawks, who sit at 2-6 on the season, have fallen in their last four outings including a 5-4 decision to No. 24 Concordia Thursday morning.
Philip Scott leads the charge for the Red Hawks at the dish hitting .407 in eight games played. He's scored five runs and brought in four with just one of his 11 hits good for extra bases, a triple. Justin Epifanio and Joe Foote lead Montclair State with five RBI eachs with the former hitting .500 in five games played, 18 plate appearances and a .556 slugging percentage, while the latter boasts a .345 average in 29 at bats and paces the Red Hawks in runs scored, 10.
Montclair State features a solid rotation of hurlers on the mound, including Connor Lindsay (12.0 IP, 0.75 ERA, 1-1) and Max Maarleveld (11.2 IP, 4.63 ERA).
DICKINSON – TEAM WEBSITE – 2017 STATS – LIVE STATS
Dickinson is six games into its 2017 campaign as it heads to the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. At 4-2, the Devils open up their Florida trip with back-to-back doubleheaders against Centenary and Trinity, before teeing off versus the Rams Monday, March 13 at 12:45 p.m.
Rick Hopkins has produced team-leading numbers at the plate thus far this season, batting .440, sluggin .560 and holding an on-base percentage of .407. The senior has 11 hits including three doubles, for five RBI and three runs scored. Junior Robbie Thompson leads the Devils in RBI with seven on three hits with classmate Jon Chudacoff bringing in six runs and knocking a team-best two homers.
Three different hurlers have been in the starting rotation for Dickinson in Billy O'Neil, Ryan Vasel and Ben Rappaport. In two starts and 12.0 innings of work, O'Neil paces the pack with a 0.75 ERA and 12 punch outs. Vasel, who has also got the call twice, boast a 2.31 ERA with eight Ks in 11.2 innings pitched with Rappaport's 3.27 ERA in 11.0 innings rounding out the trio.
EYES ON THE GAME
ROCHESTER INSTITUTE – TEAM WEBSITE – 2017 STATS – LIVE STATS
Rochester got two games in before heading to Florida, a twin bill versus Arcadia, which it split, taking game one, 11-2, and falling in the night cap, 11-10. Prior to facing Suffolk on Tuesday, March 14, the Tigers will take the diamond at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational against Salve Regina and Fairleigh Dickinson.
In the first two games Will Gorman's bat swung well despite nearly freezing temperatures. The senior outfielder hit the cycle in the series and tacked on another homer for a 1.667 slugging percentage, .700 on-base percentage and .667 average. His six runs scored lead the way for RIT, while his four RBI sit second on the team behind Dom Schialabba's (.400) five.
Five different hurlers saw action in the season opening doubleheader with Brian Reed and Daniel Zeglen each earning the start. Reed picked up the Tigers lone win and holds a 0.00 era with three strikeouts to his credit in 5.0 innings of action.
GORDON – TEAM WEBSITE – 2016 STATS – LIVE STATS
Gordon throws its first pitch of 2017 at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational Thursday, March 10 in a two-game series versus Keene State and will face Suffolk Wednesday, March 15.
The Fighting Scots lost just two every day starts in the field and the program's all-time win leader in starting pitching Scott Hall from a team that went 19-19 last season.
Dean Demers leads the way for Gordon's returners. With a .417 mark, Demers, a Golden Glove first base candidate with a .991 fielding percentage a year ago, knocked in a team-high 29 RBI and had 16 doubles. Addison Tarr is also welcomed back after leading the team in runs scored over the last two seasons including 33 in 2016.
The Fighting Scots top starter Matt Amore will retake his position on the bump after a season with six wins in nine appearances and a 2.42 ERA.
WASHINGTON (MO.) – TEAM WEBSITE – 2017 STATS – LIVE STATS
Washington, who is receiving votes in the latest D3Baseball.com Top 25, has already seen its wealth of experience this season. Eight games into 2017, the Bears are 5-3 and will face four other foes in Florida before squaring off against Suffolk Thursday, March 16.
Ben Browdy has played in all of Washington's eight contests this season, leading the way at the plate, hitting .500, slugging .735 and putting together a .575 on-base percentage. The senior infielder paces the pack in hits (17), RBI (12), doubles (5) and runs scored (8). John Brinkman is also a threat at the dish, batting .406 with 11 RBI and seven run scored on 13 hits.
Scott Nelson, Brad Margolin and Zack Kotin have two starts apiece while John Brinkman, who got the call once, boasts the best ERA for the Bears starters at 1.80. Nelson holds a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings of work, while relief Zack Kotin owning the team-best in strikeouts, sitting down 12 hitters.
RUTGERS CAMDEN – TEAM WEBSITE – 2017 STATS – LIVE STATS
Rutgers Camden used the three-day Armstrong Invitational to prep for the RussMatt Central Florida trip. The Raptors earned the win in the opener 7-5 versus Mitchell but fell to Elmira, 2-1, and Methodist, 8-6, to head to Florida 1-2 on the young season.
Suffolk will be the eighth team to take on Rutgers Camden in Auburndale, Florida, as the Raptors prep for the Rams with Brockport, Washington (Mo.), Oswego, Endicott, Eastern Connecticut State, Trinity and Wheaton. Camden's action gets underway Sunday, March 12.
Six different players have seen the field in all three of Rutgers games this season. Matthew Stoots leads the way with team-best numbers in average (.571) and on-base percentage (.625). Doug Carter Jr., who has started every contest in leftfield, hits .500 and slugs .786, good for three RBI and three runs scored. Brett Kuchera has brought in a team-high five RBI, but hits just .154.
Three different pitchers earned have earned the nod this season. Ian Scheidemann is the lone standout, producing a 2.57 ERA in 7.0 innings of work with three Ks. Gianni D'Antonio and Zach Welsher, who have each opened up contests on the bump for the Raptors, hold ERAs of 12.0 each.
#20 TCNJ – TEAM WEBSITE – 2017 STATS – LIVE STATS
Suffolk and TCNJ will close out their Spring Break trips versus one another. The Lions, who have already played one game prior to heading south, will face seven other competitors before seeing the Rams Saturday, March 18. Currently, TCNJ is ranked 20th in the latest D3Baseball.com Top 25.
Alex Christian sent TCNJ over Stevens Institute 5-3 in the 2017 opener with pair of two-run homerun blasts. On the hill, Michael Fischer tossed six strong innings to register the mound victory as the Lions staff allowed just four hits and the defense played errorless baseball.
After nine days in the south, Suffolk springs back to New England where it will open the home portion of its 70th season Tuesday, March 21 versus Bridgewater State at East Boston Memorial Park.