Atlantic 10 Baseball 2010 Preview

February 3, 2010
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Can Xavier Keep Momentum From First Conference Title Going?

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2009 Regular Season Champion: Dayton

2009 Tournament Champion: Xavier defeated Rhode Island 10-1 in the A10 Championship game to capture its first ever conference title.

No Mid-Major: The Atlantic 10 had a league record 16 players selected in June’s MLB draft.  Jr. RHP Ryan Smith led the way after being taken in the 2nd round, 60th overall, by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  At least 10 league schools had one player selected with Rhode Island having a program-record 4 players taken.

End of an Era: 2010 will be the final season for baseball at Duquense.  On Jan. 25th the school’s administration announced plans to cut men’s varsity sports in baseball, swimming, golf, and wrestling in an effort to save money and restructure its athletic programs.

Charlotte

2009 Season: (33-22, 16-11)

Nickname: 49ers

Head Coach: Loren Hibbs

Location: Charlotte, NC

Vitals: .322 BA, 63 HR, .414 OBP, .959 Fld. %…4.61 ERA, 10 SVs, 348 K, 169 BB, .277 Opp. BA

Ryan Rivers (A-10 photo)

On the Rebound: Charlotte missed the NCAA tournament in 2009 after qualifying the previous two seasons, and now will try to get back despite losing three of its top five hitters, including 1st team All-Conference 1B Rob Lyerly (.401, 12 HR, 49 RBI) and Houston Astros draft pick 3B Aaron Bray (.339, 36 RBI, 11 SB).

Still Strong: In spite of those losses, the Niners do return three 2nd team All-A10 selections in Sr. C Zane Williams (.329, 9 HR, 41 RBI), Jr. DH Ryan Rivers (.313, 18 HR, 65 RBI) and Jr. OF Justin Wilson (.364, 53 R, 19 SB).

Pitching Strength: Charlotte’s strength this season could be their pitching staff which returns 10 of 14 arms from 2009.  Back this year are 2nd team All-A10 Jr. RHP Joe Yermal (8-3, 3.01, 1 CG), Sr. RHP Kelly McClain (6-2, 3.03, 5 SVs) and So. Tyler Pilkington (5-1, 4.38, 1 SV).

Dayton

2009 Season: (38-19, 21-6)

Nickname: Flyers

Head Coach: Tony Vittorio

Location: Dayton, OH

Vitals: .332 BA, 77 HR, .414 OBP, .958 Fld. %…5.52 ERA, 13 SVs, 370 K, 181 BB, .312 Opp. BA

Jimmy Roesinger

No Pressure: Dayton looks to win back-to-back regular season A10 championships after capturing their first ever title last season.  The Flyers won a program record 38 games and beat out Rhode Island by a game in the standings.  Atlantic 10 coaches picked Dayton to win the conference once again.

Talent Flying High: If UD wins the conference again, it will be because of the load of talent returning this season.  Jr. INF Jimmy Roesinger (.401, .575 Slg. %, 11 SB), Sr. INF Zach Jacob (.354, 79 H, 11 HR), and Sr. INF Cole Tyrell (.295, 12 HR, 60 RBI) are all back to lead the offense while A10 Rookie of the Year Cameron Hobson (7-1, 3.43 ERA, 2 SVs, 83 K) and Sr. RHP Eric Wagner (6-1, 3.99 ERA, 1 SV) head up the pitching staff.

Duquesne

2009 Season: (14-41, 7-19)

Nickname: Dukes

Head Coach: Mike Wilson

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Vitals: .280 BA, 46 HR, .373 OBP, .944 Fld. %…7.95 ERA, 6 SVs, 252 K, 235 BB, .331 Opp. BA

Fighting Until the End: With 2010 proving to be the final season of baseball at Duquesne, the Dukes will look to improve upon their league worst 14 wins from 2009.  To do that, they’ll need plenty of leadership from Freshman All-American Rick Devereaux (.323, 15 doubles, 45 RBI) and Jr. RHP Andrew Heck (2-3, 3.78 ERA, 1 CG).

Season of Lasts: Duquesne begins its last season February 19th at South Carolina.  Their final home game is May 16th against Temple and, in what will likely be their final game in school history, the Dukes finish on the road at Fordham May 22nd.

Fordham

2009 Season: (22-32, 16-11)

Nickname: Rams

Head Coach: Nick Restaino

Location: Bronx, NY

Vitals: .281 BA, 34 HR, .364 OBP, .957 Fld. %…6.23 ERA, 10 SVs, 270 K, 307 BB, .296 Opp. BA

Looking for More: Fordham finished last season 10 games  below .500, but five games up in the conference, a tie for 4th place.  This season, with 26 of 30 lettermen returning, Fordham could be poised to make a run at their first NCAA tournament since 1998.

Key Returners: Leading the way this season for the Rams is 5th year Sr. LHP J.P. Mack (6-3, 5.01 ERA, 3 CG), and 5th year Sr. INF Ryan McCrann (.318, 15 doubles, 23 RBI).

Schedule Notes: The Rams host two games in early March with games scheduled March 3rd against Manhattan and March 10 with New York Tech.  They’ll likely find friendlier weather, but tougher opponents on the Spring Break trip down to Florida where they’ll meet Pittsburgh three times, and Miami, FL and Michigan twice.

George Washington

2009 Season: (22-33, 11-15)

Nickname: Colonials

Head Coach: Steve Mrowka

Location: Washington, DC

Vitals: .283 BA, 52 HR, .371 OBP, .958 Fld. %…6.03 ERA, 4 SVs, 404 K, 283 BB, .297 Opp. BA

Sean Rockey (GW photo)

Top Hitters Return: George Washington brings back their top two hitters from a season ago.   Sr. 2B Sean Rockey (.420, 81 H, 10 HR, 60 RBI) leads the way.  Rockey is a pre-season 3rd team All-American, the only A10 player to be named to the team.  Also back is Sr. SS Tom Zebroski (.347, 8 HR, 17 SB).

Big Loss: GW must replace A10 pitcher of the Year Pat Lehman, who led the team with a 7-4 record with a 2.40 ERA and 6 complete games.  The Colonials will rely heavily on returners Jr. RHP Eric Cantrell (5-2, 4.46 ERA, 1 CG), and Sr. RHP Ryan LaPointe (4-3, 4.69, 2 SVs).

Big Start: The first four games this year for GW are on the road against College World Series participants.  They begin the season February 19th in Chapel Hill against North Carolina, before hitting Charlottesville for a game with Virginia on the 24th.

Sink Or Swim:  Sophomore pitcher Marshall Seedorf is also a member of the George Washington swimming team.  In 2008-2009 he was one of the top freshman sprinters in the A10.  CLICK HERE to listen to san exclusive podcast interview with Seedorf.

LaSalle

2009 Season: (19-30, 8-18)

Nickname: Explorers

Head Coach: Mike Lake

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Vitals: .286 BA, 30 HR, .364 OBP, .974 Fld. %…5.78 ERA, 8 SVs, 284 K, 210 BB, .304 Opp. BA

All-A10 Returners: LaSalle returns two all-conference selections from last year.  Team leading hitter Sr. OF John Malloy (.329, 19 doubles, 8 HR) was an honorable mention A10 member, while So. OF Tony Negrin (.374, 46 H, 7 SB), was named to the All-Rookie team making it four straight years a member of the LaSalle team earned that honor.

Road Warriors: The Explorers have just 23 home games this season, with road trips to NC State, Florida, and Old Dominion in the first three weeks.  The home slate is set to begin March 3rd when LaSalle hosts rival Lafayette.

Massachusetts

2009 Season: (27-26, 16-11)

Nickname: Minutemen

Head Coach: Mike Stone

Location: Amherst, MA

Vitals: .309 BA, 60 HR, .387 OBP, .954 Fld. %…5.10 ERA, 10 SVs, 387 K, 198 BB, .281 Opp. BA

Mike Gedman (UMass photo)

Minuteman Offense: UMass featured 7 regulars who hit over .300 last year and see 5 return this year led by Sr. 1B Mike Gedman (.345, .580 Slg. %., 9 SB), 1st team All-A10 performer Sr. OF Mike Donato (.336, 73 H, 40 RBI), and So. C Tom Conley (.312, .424 OBP).

Pitching Matters: In addition to being the team’s top hitter, Gedman was the team’s top closer as well going 1-4, with a 2.42 ERA, 5 SVs, and a .192 Opp. BA in 15 appearances.  Jr. LHP Charlie Benson (3-0, 3.19 ERA, SV), and Sr. RHP Bryan Leigh (4.07 ERA, 4 SVs) return as well.  UMass does face the task of losing top pitcher Mitchell Clegg (7-1, 4.15 ERA, 1 CG).

Better Late Then Never: UMass gets a later start than most everyone else with their first game not until March 12th when they begin a 4 game series in Stillwater against Oklahoma State.

Rhode Island

2009 Season: (37-20-1, 19-6)

Nickname: Rams

Head Coach: Jim Foster

Location: Kingston, RI

Vitals: .305 BA, 54 HR, .376 OBP, .969 Fld. %…4.76 ERA, 15 SVs, 397 K, 188 BB, .269 Opp. BA

Oliver Palmer (URI photo)

Big Year: Rhode Island finished just one game behind Dayton for the A10 championship last year and return 7 of 8 regular starters to the lineup this season.  Back for the Rams is Sr. INF Oliver Palmer (.342, 21 doubles, 11 HR) and Jr. OF Jeff Cammans (.335, 69 H, 17 SB).

Key Pitchers: Sr. RHP Tim Boyce, Jr. RHP Ken Graveline, and Jr. LHP Chris Pickering all return this season to lead the staff.   The three combined for 18 wins and 133 K in 30 starts.

Early Tests: The Rams begin their season with 3 games against Mississippi State in Starkville before heading the Virginia for a three-game series with the Cavaliers.

Richmond

2009 Season: (22-25, 11-16)

Nickname: Spiders

Head Coach: Mark McQueen

Location: Richmond, VA

Vitals: .283 BA, 44 HR, .392 OBP, .957 Fld. %…6.33 ERA, 11 SVs, 361 K, 193 BB, .300 Opp. BA

Breakthrough Year?: Richmond improved by only 2 wins last year, but raised their winning percentage by almost 10 points from 2009, and return 7 of 8 position starters and 3 of 4 starting pitchers to this year’s team.

Offensive Leaders Back: The Spiders return their top 3 hitters with So. 2B Adam McConnell, a Ping! Baseball Freshman All-American (.355, 70 H, 31 SB), Sr. 3B Cameron Brown (.340, 11 HR, 39 RBI, and Jr. RF Mike Mergenthaler (.301, 6 HR, 41 RBI) back to lead the offensive attack this year.

St. Joseph’s

2009 Season: (16-30-1, 9-17)

Nickname: Hawks

Head Coach: Fritz Hamburg

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Vitals: .290 BA, 24 HR, .391 OBP, .956 Fld. %…6.25 ERA, 7 SVs, 265 K, 253 BB, .305 Opp. BA

Wanna Be Startin’ Something: St. Joe’s won just 9 A10 games in 2009, but the mark was still good enough for their best conference finish since 2003.  First-year coach Fritz Hamburg also led the team to their first conference series sweep in almost 7 years when the swept LaSalle in a 3-game series.

New Stars Emerge: Sr. 1B/OF Dewey Oriente led the team with a .403 BA, with 6 HR and 39 RBI on his way to Honorable Mention All-A10 honors.  Sr. INF David Valesente (.369, 15 doubles, 5 HR) and Sr. LHP Randy Mower (5-5, 4.80 ERA, 44 K) also aided the cause and all return this year.

Home Away from Home: The Hawks will call Campbell Field in Camden, NJ home this season as they await a new on campus facility.  The home schedule begins March 2nd against Delaware sandwiched between road trips.  When they return home March 12th, St. Joe’s will play 16 home games in a row through April 6th.

Saint Louis

2009 Season: (30-25, 12-13)

Nickname: Billikens

Head Coach: Darin Hendrickson

Location: St. Louis, MO

Vitals: .286 BA, 46 HR, .391 OBP, .963 Fld. %…5.45 ERA, 8 SVs, 342 K, 182 BB, .312 Opp. BA

Zach Miller (SLU photo)

In Position: St. Louis’ 30 wins a year ago marked just the third time in school history the team won 30 or more games, and tied for second most wins in a season.  2009 was also just the fourth time since 1972 that the Billikens finished above .500.  In two years as head coach, Darin Hendrickson has improved the team’s win total from 16 to 24, and now 30.

Offense Back: St. Louis brings back 3 of their top 4 hitters with Sr. 1B Danny Brock (.336, 71 H, 15 doubles), Sr. C Ben Braaten (.335, 8 HR, 41 RBI) and So. INF Zach Miller (.324, 10 HR, 61 RBI), a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, leading the way.

Pitching Questions: The Billikens will need to rely on several newcomers on the mound this season.  Sr. RHP Bryant Cotton (5-4, 4.64 ERA, 52 K) is the only pitcher returning who started double-digit games last year.

St. Bonaventure

2009 Season: (24-25, 9-17)

Nickname: Bonnies

Head Coach: Larry Sudbrook

Location: St. Bonaventure, NY

Vitals: .284 BA, 24 HR, .374 OBP, .957 Fld. %…5.31 ERA, 7 SVs, 296 K, 216 BB, .288 Opp. BA

Offensive Struggles: St. Bonaventure had just 4 regulars hit over .300 last year, and only 2 of them return this season.  The two returnees are Jr. SS Jesse Bosnik (.321, 60 H, 26 SB) and So. OF Ryan Skellie (.331, 48 H, 31 RBI).  Skellie was named to the A10 All-Rookie team for his effort, becoming the first Bonnie ever named to the team.

Schedule Notes: The Bonnies begin the season February 27th in Winter Haven, FL where they play 9 games in 10 days against 9 different opponents.  They then take the next 9 days off before opening the home schedule March 17th with a doubleheader against Niagara.

Temple

2009 Season: (17-33, 11-15)

Nickname: Owls

Head Coach: Rob Valli

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Vitals: .321 BA, 43 HR, .378 OBP, .939 Fld. %…7.03 ERA, 12 SVs, 261 K, 238 BB, .328 Opp. BA

Find Some Bats: Temple returns just two of their top 9 hitters from last year.  Leading the charge this season is Sr. INF Tony Jusino (.363, 73 H, 19 doubles) and Jr. SS Rafael Cordero (.310 while playing in 23 games)  Also returning is So. INF Foster Dunagin who went 9-23, with 5 RBI in very limited action.

Mound Presence: The Owls finished 13th out of 14 in the conference in terms of ERA, but bring back every pitcher who started a game last year except for one.  The still young, but experienced staff is led by Sr. RHP Ryan Thomas (4-3. 5.03 ERA, 3 SVs) and Sr. RHP Matt Blackburn (3-1, 4 SVs, 31 K).  They also return Sr. RHP Matt Mongiardini who threw only 4 innings last year before going down with a season-ending injury.  Mongiardini went 6-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 2008.

Frequent Fliers: Temple will rack up the air miles at the start of this season.  The first three weekends of the season have them traveling to Fort Myers, FL for three games against Florida Gulf Coast, Las Vegas for a series with UNLV, and then to Durham, NC to take on Duke.

Xavier

2009 Season: (39-21, 18-9)

Nickname: Musketeers

Head Coach: Scott Googins

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Vitals: .311 BA, 50 HR, .400 OBP, .971 Fld. %…5.71 ERA, 14 SVs, 446 K, 275 BB, .294 Opp. BA

Ben Thomas (Xavier photo)

Best Season Ever: Xavier captured their first ever Atlantic 10 tournament championship and made their first trip to the NCAA tournament in school history last year.  The 39 wins in 2009 were the most in a season ever, and school records were also set for runs, hits, doubles, and RBI.

Key Returners: The top 3 hitters return led by Sr. INF Zac Richard (.350, 8 doubles, 22 RBI), Jr. INF Ben Thomas (.338, 16 HR, 66 RBI) and Sr. OF Bobby Freking (.335, 58 H, 35 RBI).  The Musketeers also get a boost with Jr. OF John McCambridge back who rapped out 60 hits a stole 42 bases.  The pitching staff is bolstered with the return of Jr. RHP Brian Muransky (7-2, 5.05 ERA).

Tough Tests: Xavier’s non-conference schedule is loaded with challenges, beginning with a opening weekend trip to Knoxville to face Tennessee.  The also travel to Georgia Tech, Duke, Wake Forest, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio State.

2010 Atlantic 10 Predictions

Atlantic 10 Champion: Charlotte, with Dayton and Xavier contending

Player of the Year: Sean Rockey—George Washington

Pitcher of the Year: Cameron Hobson–Dayton

(By Collegebaseball360.com contributor Shawn Lewallen)

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