BABSON PARK, Mass.—After setting a new school record for wins and advancing to the NCAA Tournament regional final for the second year in a row last spring, the Babson College baseball program enters 2019 looking to continue its recent success.
BEAVERS STILL CLIMBING
Under the direction of 17th-year head coach Matt Noone, the Beavers have been one of the top teams in New England amassing 64 victories over the last two seasons. The Green and White, which came within one game of reaching the College World Series and finished the year at 35-12 overall, brings back 26 players from a team that captured its second consecutive New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season and conference titles last spring.
LINEUP LONG ON DEPTH AND EXPERIENCE
Despite losing two of its top run producers to graduation, Babson returns six starters, four of which drove in 30 or more runs last spring. Senior shortstop Brian McHale (Ramsey, N.J.) batted .339 with 20 extra-base hits and 30 RBI, junior outfielder Jake Oliger (Newtown, Conn.) hit .320 drove in 37 runs to go along with 10 doubles, and junior catcher Sean Harrington (Walpole, Mass.) boasted a .503 on-base percentage in addition to racking up 11 extra-base hits and driving in 31 runs. Additionally, junior first baseman Matthew Valente (Wyckoff, N.J.) produced 11 extra-base hits and drove in 35 runs in his first season as a starter.
SENIORS SETTING THE TONE
Infielder Connor Gill (Sterling, Mass.) and outfielder Eric Jaun (Loveland, Ohio) are both three-year starters that have played a major part in the program's success over the last three seasons. Gill, who also was one of the team's top starting pitchers in 2018, is a career .299 hitter who matched his career high with 10 extra-base hits to go along with a career-best 21 runs batted in last spring. Jaun is coming off a terrific junior campaign that saw him hit .318 with 10 doubles and 24 runs batted in. Classmates Edward Lehr (Byram Township, N.J.), who batted .346 with eight doubles and 16 RBI, and Nicholas Browne (Mount Laurel, N.J.), who finished second on the squad with six homers in 2018, should both play key roles for the Beavers this season.
VETERAN STAFF HAS THE STUFF
Highlighted by the return of Gill and fellow senior Michael Genaro (Greenwich, Conn.), the Green and White returns four pitchers that made at least four starts last year. Gill went 6-2 with a 3.31 ERA and held opposing hitters to just a .243 average, while Genaro set a Babson single-season record for wins finishing 9-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 58 strikeouts against just three walks in 72.2 innings pitched. Lehr made four starts and eight appearances in all on the hill going 2-2 with 20 strikeouts in 28.1 innings, while sophomore Alex Luka (Downers Grove, Ill.) went 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA over 33.2 frames as a rookie.
BULLPEN ARMS READY FOR BIGGER ROLES
Although Noone must replace the school's all-time saves leader, the Beavers' feature a number strong pitchers that had success out of the bullpen last season. Senior Max Tannenbaum (Coral Springs, Fla.) had two saves and posted a 3.86 ERA in 20 appearance, junior William Gallagher (Kingston, Mass.) went 2-0 with 15 strikeouts in 13.2 innings, and classmate Michael Nocchi (Manasquan, N.J.) finished third on the team in appearances and went 1-1 in 19.2 innings of work. Sophomore Tyler Bell (Abington, Mass.), who recorded 17 strikeouts in 11.1 innings, classmate Ben Aleixo (North Smithfield, R.I.), who was 2-1 in six appearances, and senior Nicolas Parente (Lincoln University, Pa.) are part of a large group of returning pitchers that will be looked upon to give the team key innings this spring.
READY WHEN CALLED UPON
Juniors Aidan Scott (South Glastonbury, Conn.) and Alex DiMartino (Mahwah, N.J.) appeared in 16 and 14 games, respectively, last season and give the Green and White depth and versatility in the lineup. Scott started nine times behind the plate and batted .270 with two doubles and three RBI, while DiMartino saw time at both first base and DH and finished with a pair of doubles and three RBI in 39 at-bats.
The Green and White was ranked 17th in both the D3baseball.com and Collegiate Baseball preseason polls, and garnered seven of eight first-place votes to finish atop the NEWMAC coaches' poll.
MARK YOUR CALENDER
The Beavers open the season with a three-game series in San Antonio, Texas, against third-ranked Trinity and will travel to Port Charlotte and Fort Myers, Fla., for six games between March 15-19. Once returning home, Babson will face a daunting 17-game NEWMAC slate beginning on March 23, and will host both ninth-ranked UMass Boston and 11th-ranked Southern Maine in April.