2013 Preview – Ivy League

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on February 6th, 2013 in 2013 National Preview, Ivy
 

2012 CONFERENCE ISR: 23

.

HOW THEY’LL FINISH IN 2013:

THE ROLFE DIVISION.

1- Dartmouth

2- Harvard

3- Brown

4- Yale

THE GEHRIG DIVISION.

1- Cornell

2- Princeton

3- Columbia

4- Penn

.

THE LOWDOWN.

Dartmouth’s run atop the Ancient Eight was cut short by Cornell last season as the Big Red won a dramatic, extra-inning championship game on a jog-off home run. Yep, that’s how competitive this title was. And special salutations to Ivy League Hero by the name of Chris Cruz, who hit the two-run bomb that sent the Big Red to the Big Dance. For now, I’ve got a repeat of last year happening as far as Dartmouth in the Rolfe and Cornell in the Gehrig. Princeton and Columbia could put some heavy pressure on the boys from Ithaca, but in the end, Cornell will win out for a repeat in the Ivy playoffs.

.

.

BREAKTHROUGH TEAM:

- Princeton.

Been a while since we’ve seen these guys up in contending status. Probably since Jim Fiore was the athletic director… he’s now at Stony Brook, so do the math on his success rate. But the Tigers have the most weapons to push Cornell.

.

.

TRENDING DOWN:

- The bottom of the Rolfe Division.

Other than Dartmouth, the remainder of the Rolfe Division has a lot of personnel to refill and probably won’t put up much of a fight to dethrone the Big Green.

.

.

BIGGEST CLEATS TO FILL:

- Brian Billigen, Cornell

The Big Red only hit .285 as a team, led by Billigen’s .361. But he was joined in the exodus along with Brandon Lee (.320) in leaving Cornell without their top two hitters in the lineup. Billigen was a firestarter who did not hit into a single double play all season and also was 13-of-15 in stolen bases. The Big Red offense will need to grow quickly with a number of key newcomers.

.

.

BEST PLAYER:

- Chris Cruz, OF, Cornell

The Ivy hero didn’t have a to-die-for batting average last year – just .258. But his timeliness in hitting big bombs couldn’t have been more clutch after parking 12 dingers and accounting for 35 RBI last season. Look for him to utilize his speed a tad bit more this season after going 8-for-10 in thefts last year.

.

.

BEST PITCHER:

- Kellen Urbon, RHP, Cornell

The crafty righty went 3-1 and had an ERA of 0.47 with nine saves for the Big Red last year. The Frosh All American is already gotten some pre-season love by being named a 3rd team All American by the College Baseball Writers of America.

.

.

IMPACT NEWCOMER:

- Michael Vilardo, INF, Penn

Get this… The multi-talented Vilardo is a former Chicago area hockey player of the year AND baseball player of the year. He was originally an Ohio State hockey commit, but then suffered a shoulder injury his junior year of high school which limited him to baseball only. Out of high school he originally enrolled at the University of Richmond, but redshirted. Now, after transferring to Penn, Vilardo is finally ready to start his baseball career. Look for big things.

.

.

STEAL A LEAR JET FOR…

- Dartmouth at Columbia, March 31

This double-header should be a pre-cursor to the Ivy League best-of-three playoffs. In fact, if you want to put off your purloining of that Lear Jet until the playoffs in early May, I won’t blame you.

.

.

CAPSULES…

.

Red Rolfe Division:

- BROWN (9-35, 6-14)

2012 ISR: 282

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

.

All Conference Candidates:

INF Nick Fornaca (.328)

OF Cody Slaughter (.318-5-32)

OF John Sheridan (.315, 12SBs)

P Taylor Wright (2-3, 5.23)

P Heath Mayo (2-3, 5.53)

.

NOTES:

- The Bears had a really crappy 2012 season, but it’s weird to think that their nine wins included conquests of Maine, San Jose State, Connecticut and Ivy Co-Champion Dartmouth. So there were flashes of promise… or maybe just wild, bizarre, happenstance wins that came about because they made a deal with the devil. You got me on this one.

- In a strange way, the Bears actually had the second-best defense in the Fielding department in the Ivy League, sweeping at a .968 pace. Infielders ilke Wes Van Boom (great name, .275-5-31), Nick Fornaca (.328) and J.J. Franco (.281) return to head up the dirtbaggers crew.

- In addition to all that, the top seven pitchers from last year’s team also come back, headed by Taylor Wright and Heath Mayo, the top reliever (18apps) and top starter (10starts) on the squad. So we’re essentially talking about the entire team coming back, so look for mass amounts of improvements on the woeful nine wins from a year ago.

.

.

- DARTMOUTH (24-18, 14-6)

2012 ISR: 147

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 4

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

.

All Conference Candidates:

OF Jeff Keller (.352-5-26)

1B Dustin Selzer (.324-5-41)

DH Ennis Coble (.311)

2B Thomas Roulis (.257)

LHP Kyle Hunter (3-4, 5.75)

LHP Mitch Horacek (4-3, 5.47)

RHP Thomas Olson (1-4, 1.69, 6svs)

.

NOTES:

- The Big Green hope to get things going a little earlier this season after they struggled with a 5-13 start last year. Of course, the flip-side of that is how they went 19-5 in April and May, winning their way to a Ivy League Co-Championship.

- The Big Green led the Ivies in hitting (.298) and fielding (.977), showing they had a sense of quality to their play. Of those in the batting order, they’ll return three of their top four hitters in Jeff Keller, Dustin Selzer and Ennis Coble, who all hit over .300. But one player to watch who was NOT a returning starter is soph OF Matt Robinson, who hit an Ivy League-best .424 in 22 starts. If he can keep that kind of energy going on a full-time bases, the Big Green offense will be potent.

- Look for that pitching staff to improve its 4.26 team ERA significantly. Although Kyle Hunter and Mitch Horacek had the lowest ERA’s of the starters, they also combined for six complete games last season and issued just 23 walks in 108 innings of work. That’s some high-quality outings there. In fact, as a team, Dartmouth College gave away just 90 free passes, which was 39 fewer than anyone else in the Ancient Eight.

- The Big Green does have one advantage over any of their rivals: they played a few days of baseball on a trip to the Dominican Republic during the week of Thanksgiving. Not only was it a good humanitarian trek, it was also a unity-building trip for the team and they got to play a handful of games against DR teams while they were there.

.

.

- HARVARD (12-30, 8-12)

2012 iSR: 244

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

.

All Conference Candidates:

SS Jake McGuiggan (.352-2-21)

2B Kyle Larrow (.350)

OF Mike Martin (.338-3-14)

RHP Baron Davis (2-2, 3.14)

RHP Zack Olson (0-3, 2.61, 4svs)

.

NOTES:

- It was a tragic off-season for the Crimson baseball program as longtime head coach Joe Walsh died suddenly of a heart attack last summer. Walsh called Harvard his “dream job” and spent 18 years as the skipper, including 1998′s 36-12 team, which finished the season at No.. 24 in the national rankings. Walsh’s record was 569-566-3 as the Crimson coach and his 15 years of coaching his alma mater, Suffolk University.

- Bill Decker takes over as the new head coach and has a good track record in the Northeast, having spent the last 22 seasons as the head coach at Trinity College in Connecticut. Decker went 529-231 and was the program’s winningest coach, including 2008′s 45-1 team which won the D3 national title.

- On the field, not a great improvement for the Crimson last season. Sure, they didn’t finish in last place in the Ivy League like they did in 2011, but they only increased their win total by three wins last year.

- They’ll have to replace the two best arms in the pitching corps in Brent Suter and Joey Novak, who combined for 94 innings and 16 starts.

.

.

- YALE (13-31-1, 5-15)

2012 ISR: 273

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

.

All Conference Candidates:

INF Cale Hanson (.340, 11SBs)

INF Kevin Fortunato (.277-4-33)

RHP David Hickey (1-4, 3.43)

.

NOTES:

- The Bulldogs went from a winning record in Ivy play and overall in 2011 to a dead last place finish in 2012. Yuck. Although it must be noted that they did finish the season on a 6-5 run and also beat Stony Brook earlier in the campaign. Wow, right?

- Talk about a great off-season, RHP David Hickey was named the No. 1 pro prospect in the Hawaiian Summer League pitching for Waikiki, which should help catapult him to a big senior season. But the bummer part is that there are only three pitchers coming back who threw more than 10 innings in games last season.

- Joining Hickey in the returnee department will be Rob Cerfolio (0-4, 4.98), who started nine games last season, and Eric Hsieh (0-2, 8.56).

- Yale will play Michigan on Tuesday March 26th at Citi Field in Queens, New York, which is home to the New York Mets.

.

.

Lou Gehrig Division:

- COLUMBIA (21-24, 12-8)

2012 ISR: 177

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

.

All Conference Candidates:

INF Alex Black (.370-2-18)

OF Nick Ferraresi (.310-4-32)

RHP Stefan Olson (4-5, 3.65)

.

NOTES:

- There wasn’t a quantum leap in the wins department last season for the Lions, but the most noticeable change was their ISR ranking, which was 207 in 2011 and 177 last season.

- RHP Tim Giel spent last summer dominating in the prestigious Cape Cod League, even throwing in the Cape All Star Game. He’s got great control, issuing just 13 base on balls last year. He’ll be joined in returning to the starting rotation with Stefan Olson and mid-week starter David Speer (3-1, 4.91). Behind them, saves leader David Spinosa (1-5, 4.82, 4svs) leads the bullpen.

- The batting order actually only returns three full-time starters in Alex Black, Nick Ferraresi and Aaron Silbar (.218). But part-timers like Nick Crucet (.264), Eric Williams (.256) and Jordan Serena (.240) each had 20-to-25 starts and will be leaned upon a little more this season.

.

.

- CORNELL (31-17, 14-6)

2012 ISR: 145

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

.

All Conference Candidates:

2B Brenton Peters (.292, 34BBs)

DH Kevin Tatum (.300)

OF Chris Cruz (.258-12-35)

RHP Brian McAfee (6-1, 3.38)

RHP Connor Kaufmann (7-2, 3.90, .230OBA)

RHP Kellen Ubron (3-1, 0.47, 9svs)

.

NOTES:

- Holy cow! The Big Red came out of nowhere last season and set the Ancient Eight on its ear. They really did. Cornell won just 10 games in 2011 and had ZERO pitching come back to the roster for 2012. Next thing you know, they turn around and lead the loop with a 3.70 team ERA. Not only that, they go out and win 31 games, beat heavily-favored Dartmouth in the Ivy playoffs and made the NCAA tournament. (Did I say “Holy Cow!” yet?).

- Offensively, the Big Red was a team that got things moving, leading the Ivies in walks (177BBs) and stolen bases (55SBs), which paid a big bill on their way to the NCAA tournament.

- Two big prime time performers return to the roster to lead the Big Red in 2013. Chris Cruz returns after being THE hero of the 2012 season by cranking a two-run jog-off home run to beat Dartmouth in Game Three of the Ivy Playoffs. Ace reliever Kellen Urbon came to Ithaca D1-ready, stepping into the closer’s role immediately and holding opponents to an impressive .179 batting average.

- Nine Cornell players are from California.

.

.

- PENNSYLVANIA (17-23, 8-12)

2012 ISR: 240

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

.

All Conference Candidates:

OF Ryan Deitrich (.350-4-22)

C Austin Bossart (.276)

1B Spencer Branigan (.248-2-26)

.

NOTES:

- At least the Quakers were consistent, finishing second-to-last in the Ivy League in hitting (.269), pitching (5.61) and defense (.958) on the stat sheet last season. No lie. But that also includes finishing with the second-to-worst record in the Ivies overall and dead last in the Lou Gehrig Division. Piss!

- Lots of experience returns for this year, especially with the return of the top two hitters from last season in junior Rick Brebner (.313-2-17) and Ryan Dietrich. Also, senior 1Bman Spencer Branigan could be a huge key to the offense as he possesses good power, but needs to get his bat going a little better for 2013.

- Five of the top six pitchers from last year’s squad led by RHP Cody Thompson (2-4, 3.63), who was sort of a jack-of-all-trades by starting eight games, with two complete games and also saved two games along the way. Keep a watch for sophomore hurlers Dan Gauteiri (4-1, 3.95, 1sv) and Connor Cuff (1-2, 5.26) who combined for 24 appearances and 53 innings of work in their freshmen seasons.

- The staff will pitch to a very steady backstop in Austin Bossart, who should make bigger strides in this his second season as a Quaker. He committed just three errors all last season, threw out 22 baserunner and was named honorable mention All-Ivy.

.

.

- PRINCETON (20-19, 13-7)

2012 ISR: 155

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

.

All Conference Candidates:

UTL Alec Keller (.346)

RHP/1B Mike Ford (4-4, 3.60 & .272)

RHP Zak Hermans (6-2, 3.00, .241OBA)

.

NOTES:

- The “Bad News” is that you really got the feeling last year that the Tigers were the best team in the Ancient Eight, considering they beat Florida Atlantic twice in the opening weekend, played competitively at South Carolina in week two, won a series at Richmond, opened Ivy League play with a win over Dartmouth and closed league play taking three of four from NCAA tournament-bound Cornell. WTF? How did these guys NOT go Big-Dancing last season? Or even make the Ivy League playoffs at least?

- The starting pitching duo of Zak Hermans and Mike Ford combined for seven complete games in 2012. Also, keep an eye on sophomore Nick Donatiello, who held opposing batters to a .164 average, while going 1-1, 2.81 in his 10 appearances.

- Sam Mulroy will be sorely missed after leading the team in hitting, home runs, RBI and stolen bases.

 

COMMENTS:

February 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm
bob says:

Princeton has 3 weekend starters returning. Also they won the Ivy League in 2011 so not sure where “Been a while since we’ve seen these guys up in contending status” comes from. Do your homework.


February 14, 2013 at 6:59 pm
bill says:

Seems many publications forget PRINCETON WON the IVY in 2011….played in the Austin NCAA’s and lost to Texas 5-3 and Tx St 3-1. Most of that team is back for 2013. They started a few soph/frosh that year….Ford, Flink, Harrington,Mishu, York , Baird, Keller….best pitcher Hermans. Fact, were co-favorites to repeat last year before losing 3/4 at Columbia forced thenm to sweep Cornell to win Gehrig They won first 2 in Ithaca and won third game at home. Lost title during 2nd game in 12th inning. .

For some odd reason, no one seems to recall this. They think Darthmouth won it in 2011.