Seawolves Picked Fourth In Preseason Poll
Feb. 26, 2003
The Stony Brook baseball team has been picked to finish fourth in the America East his year according to a vote of the conferences head coaches. The Seawolves qualified for the America East championship last year in its first year in the conference, and head coach Matt Senk's Seawolves defeated eventual champion Maine in an opening round game before bowing out. Stony Brook must replace Dwayne Whitaker (second-team all-conference, .312 BA, 9 HR, 31 RBI), but returns a solid nucleus, led by 2002 America East Rookie of the Year P Jon Lewis (9-3, 3.39 ERA, conference leading 90 K). Also returning is senior 2B Rich Graham (second-team all-conference, .290 BA, 27 RBI) and sophomore SS Matt Devins (second-team all-conference, .312 BA, 30 RBI).
University of Maine is the preseason favorite to repeat as the conference baseball champion this year. The Black Bears received six of a possible seven first-place votes and 47 points overall. University of Vermont was picked to finish second, garnering one first-place vote and 41 points.
Northeastern University was third with 34 points. Stony Brook University followed with 30 points, with Binghamton University (18), University at Albany (16), and University of Hartford (10) rounding out the poll.
The Black Bears (40-17 overall, 16-6 in America East) won their third America East title last year, their first since 1993, by reeling off four straight wins after dropping their opening round game in the championship. Maine advanced to the NCAA Regional in Los Angeles after defeating Northeastern, 7-5, in the America East Championship game. The NCAA appearance was the Black Bears' fourth in the last 12 years.
Head Coach Paul Kostacopoulos, the 1997 and 2001 America East Coach of the Year, returns six all-conference selections from a year ago, led by junior Mike MacDonald, the 2002 America East Pitcher of the Year, who posted a 7-3 record with a 3.44 ERA, while striking out 74 batters in 86.1 innings. Also returning for Maine is the core of America East's best offensive team in seniors C/3B Joe Drapeau (second-team all-conference, .341 BA, league-leading 11 HR and 61 RBI), 2B Brett Ouelette (2002 Championship Most Outstanding Player, .311 BA, 31 RBI), and C/DH Alain Picard (second-team all-conference, .340 BA, 53 RBI). Junior OF Simon Williams (first-team all-conference, .363 BA, 21 SB) and sophomore C/DH Aaron Izaryk (first-team all-conference, freshman All-American, .367 BA) also return. Lost from last season's squad is OF Mike Ross, a second-team all-conference pick (9 HR, 48 RBI).
Vermont (27-22, 14-8) returns four all-conference selections and 15 letterwinners from last season, highlighted by 2002 America East Player of the Year senior outfielder Jeff Barry, who led the conference in hitting with a .401 batting average, triples (5), and stolen bases (32). 2002 America East Coach of the Year Bill Currier also returns senior pitcher Brian Robinson (second-team all-conference, 6-4, 3.30 ERA, 62 K) and sophomores SS Bobby Tewksbary (first-team all-conference, .325 BA, .449 OBP) and OF Jason Carey (second-team all-conference, .324 BA, 24 RBI). Catcher Jeff Tarigo (.314 BA, 33 RBI) and pitcher Andy Kumming (6-2, 3.04 ERA, 52 K) were lost to graduation.
Head Coach Neil McPhee leads Northeastern (29-22, 11-11), which returns seven starters who brought the Huskies to the America East Championship game last season. McPhee lost his top two hitters from last season in C Luke Carlin (.361 BA, first-team all-conference, 10th round Detroit Tiger draftee) and 1B/OF Ben Beck (.344 BA), but returns sophomore 1B Miguel Paquette (all-rookie, team leading seven home runs) as well as the core of the top pitching staff in America East (3.86 team ERA). Sophomore Devin Monds (all-rookie, 5-2, 1.80 ERA) and junior Jordan Thomson (team-leading six wins) head the list of returning hurlers.
11th year head coach Tim Sinicki brought in four junior college transfers to help speed up Binghamton's (17-34, 8-12) transition to Division I, including two pitchers, J.D. Brink and Mark Messina, who are expected to replace graduated seniors David Eagan and Greg Sousa (combined 160 innings and 10 wins) and become the staff's aces. Junior 1B Jamie Boyer (second-team all-conference, .323 BA, .436 OBP) returns as the team's top hitter. Junior transfer Jay Balback (.405 BA, 71 RBI at Delaware Tech) is expected to make an immediate impact in the middle of the Bearcat lineup.
Albany (20-30, 8-14) lost OF Eddie Scott (first-team all-conference, .339, 27 RBI) to graduation and 2B Mike Grasso (first-team all-conference, .344 BA, 30 RBI, 28 SB, 11th round Atlanta Braves draftee) to the professional ranks, but head coach Jon Mueller returns two all-conference selections; junior P Scott Emmerthal (second-team all-conference, 6-1, 2.38 ERA, 42 K) and sophomore OF Tony Vallone (second-team all-conference, .351 BA, 22 RBI).
Hartford's (17-29, 8-14) top two offensive threats return for head coach Harvey Shapiro in junior 3B Ron Accabo (first-team all-conference, .349 BA, .630 SLG, conference leading 20 2B) and sophomore 1B Ryan Cuscovitch (first-team all-conference, .323 BA, 5 HR, 35 RBI). The Hawks have brought in several rookie pitchers who look to stabilize a pitching staff that has been depleted by injuries.
Team (First Place Votes) Points
Maine (6) 47,
Vermont (1) 41,
Stony Brook 30,