Reigning CCC Baseball Tournament Champion, WNE, Picked as Preseason Favorite

Reigning CCC Baseball Tournament Champion, WNE, Picked as Preseason Favorite

By CCC Intern Ty Champagne

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Baseball Tournament Champion Western New England earned 63 points, including seven first place votes to earn the top spot in the 2019 CCC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll. Voting was completed last week by the league's eight baseball head coaches.

The Golden Bears look to defend their title after winning the CCC Tournament last year, and automatically qualifying for the NCAA Baseball Championship. Western New England finished as the No. 3 seed during the regular season last spring with a conference record of 11-5 (32-13 overall) . It then managed to go undefeated during tournament play, winning all five of its games in the league championship.

Salve Regina comes in as the second place team in this year's preseason rankings with 54 points and one first place vote. The Seahawks finished as the tournament runner-up, after losing the first two games to Western New England in the best-of-three CCC Championship Series. They finished the regular season as the top seed in the tournament, with a conference record of 12-4 (25-15 overall).

Endicott was voted third with 49 points, while Roger Williams finished fourth with 39 points. Gordon finishes out the top five with 29 points.

Nichols (25 points), Wentworth (18) and Curry, (11), finished out the rest of the poll.

The first baseball game of the season for a CCC team is on Feb. 22 with both Salve Regina and Endicott in non-conference action. The CCC opens conference play this year on Saturday, March 23. Conference doubleheaders will now be two, nine-inning games. The top six teams in the 2019 regular-season conference standings will qualify for the CCC Championship Tournament, which starts with double-elimination pod play on Thursday, May 2. The winners of the two three-team pods will advance to the CCC Championship Series on Friday-Saturday, May 10-11. The winner of the best-of-three series will be named the CCC Tournament Champion will earn the conference's automatic qualifier in to the 2019 NCAA Baseball Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2019 CCC baseball schedule.

 

2019 CCC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. Western New England 63 (7)
2. Salve Regina 54 (1)
3. Endicott 49
4. Roger Williams 39
5. Gordon 29
6. Nichols 25
7. Wentworth 18
8. Curry 11

 

2019 CCC Baseball Previews

Contributed by each school's sports information department.

 

1. Western New England

Western New England will look to defend its CCC title this spring with the majority of the key pieces back from last season's championship squad.

Two-time CCC Coach of the Year Dan Gomez begins his sixth season at the helm of the WNE Baseball program in 2019 with a career record of 122-83-1 (.595). Gomez's team will be led by senior shortstop Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.), the 2018 CCC Player of the Year, and senior left-handed pitcher Bob Hamel (Southwick, Mass.), last season's CCC Pitcher of the Year.

Six other All-CCC honorees return for Western New England, including senior designated hitter Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.), who also earned All-Region honors along with Loparco and Hamel.

The 2019 campaign gets underway on Saturday, March 2, when Western New England takes on Wheaton at Clark University in Worcester. After playing seven games at the Spartan Southern Classic in Lexington, S.C. from March 15-21, the Golden Bears open their home and CCC schedules against Wentworth at Trelease Park on Saturday, March 23.


Alex Loparco, WNE

2. Salve Regina

Eric Cirella's Seahawks return an eight-member senior class that has advanced to the conference championship each of its first three years. Three of the elder Seahawks – Colton Eremian (Boca Raton, Fla.), Will Ginsberg (Sharon, Mass.), and Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.) – were All-CCC performers last season and will serve as captains along with current juniors and two-time league honorees, Dylan Ketch (Clinton, Conn.) and Patrick Maybach (Saunderstown, R.I.).

Ketch (team-highs 55 hits, .481 OBP) and Maybach (62.2 IP, 11.06 K/9) were also selected to the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Coaches Association (NEIBA) All-New England Team; that's twice in two years for the starting pitcher.

Salve Regina's patient approach at the plate led to 195 bases on balls, two shy of the program's all-time mark set in 1996, while the pitchers dominated with a school-best 9.66 strikeouts per nine innings. Brett Wilkes (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) had four saves in 11 appearances as the Seahawk bullpen closed off nine games successfully in 2018.


Colton Eremian, SRU

3. Endicott

The Gulls, which have won 25 or more games for nine straight seasons, will look to return to championship form in 2019 behind several All-Conference selections including Will Bryant (Cumberland, Maine), Alexander Mandrus (Acton, Mass.), and Dan Cacciola (Saugus, Mass.).

Graduate student Victor Molle (Peabody, Mass.) and seniors Liam Burke (Westwood, Mass.), Zachary Sultar (South Windsor, Conn.), Matt Bald (De Pere, Wisc.), Kyle Wollman (East Berlin, Conn.), Kevin Gould (Rollinsford, N.H.), Bryant and Cacciola will also be tasked with leading the squad in a variety of ways throughout the season.

Endicott begins its 2019 season with a three-game set against Trinity (Tex.) from Feb. 22-24, on the road.


Dan Cacciola, EC

4. Roger Williams

The Roger Williams baseball team showed continued signs of progress last year and looks to handle some unfinished business in the CCC Tournament this season.

Last year, head coach Jason Tower was honored as CCC Co-Coach of the Year after guiding RWU to an 11-5 conference record and claiming the No. 2 seed for the CCC Tournament, in addition to a win over No. 4 nationally-ranked UMass Boston. Unfortunately for RWU, the Hawks would be eliminated in the first weekend of the CCC Tournament.

The Hawks hope to lean on the strength of their returning veteran presence, as the team only loses two starters in the lineup and two pitchers from the rotation. Roger Williams brings in 12 newcomers to this year's squad in addition to the 12 returning upperclassmen. Three of the RWU returners are 2018 All-CCC selections including senior catcher Chris Bosco (North Andover, Mass.), who last year led the team in batting average and led the CCC in runners thrown out for the second straight year.

Chris BoscoRWU

5. Gordon

Gordon baseball returns a trio of offensive firepower in Chris Leavitt (East Bridgewater, Mass.), Christian Hodge (Waltham, Mass.), and Daniel Quint (Wells, Maine), who finished at the top of the Fighting Scots' stat sheet a season ago. Leavitt led all Scots with a .370 average at the plate, Hodge hit .358 with a team-leading 43 hits and 22 RBI, while Quint batted .342 with 17 RBI off 40 hits to go along with 10 stolen bases.

Poised to lead the Scots' young pitching staff are reigning CCC Rookie of the Year Joe Pedulla (Monroe Township, N.J.) and southpaw Derek Hudson (Hudson, N.H.). Pedulla went 6-2 last year and held his opponents to a miserly .160 batting average, while Hudson's 59.2 innings pitched led to 38 strikeouts and a 2.11 ERA.

The Fighting Scots will open their season on Feb. 23 as they travel to Langhorn, Pa. to face off against Cairn for their earliest start to the season in over 10 years.


Christian Hodge, GC

6. Nichols

The Nichols College baseball team begins its first season under head coach Tim Mayo in 2019. Junior Kyle Bouchard (Fall River, Mass.) (.375 average, 36 RBI) and senior Joe Assenza (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) (.283 average, .342 OBS) will anchor the lineup while junior Andrew Charbonneau (Berlin, Conn.) and newcomer Tony Martignoli (Santa Rosa, Calif.) sit atop the rotation. The roster consists of 20 freshmen who will all be given a chance to prove themselves to Mayo and receive playing time during the regular season.


Joe Assenza, NC

7. Wentworth

After posting its highest win total in conference play since the 2010 season and making its first appearance in the CCC Tournament since 2014, the Wentworth baseball team looks to make a return trip to the postseason with 17 letter-winners on the 2019 roster, including four of the team's top five hitters from a season ago. Senior Andrew Elliott (Rockland, Mass.) hit .304 as a junior, en route to being named Third Team All-CCC a year ago. Elliott had seven doubles, a team-high two home runs, and drove in 18 runs. Sophomore Aidan French (Chicago, Ill.) was second on the team last season in hitting as he hit .373 with a team-high 38 hits to go along with six doubles, one home run, and 17 RBI. French also led the team with 27 runs scored and 11 stolen bases and also had an on-base percentage of .435. Junior Owen Swanson (New Milford, Conn.) returns to patrol center field after hitting .324 with a team-high nine doubles as a sophomore and solid defense throughout the season. Jake Smith (Orange, Conn.) returns for his senior campaign after a solid junior season behind the plate. Offensively, Smith was second on the team with two triples. On the mound, junior Ryan Obin (Plymouth, Mass.) is coming off a sophomore season which saw him lead the team in starts (eight) and strikeouts (28) while also picking up the save in the Leopards' postseason clinching win. Senior Leo Coehlo (Marlborough, Mass.) rejoins the Wentworth pitching staff after missing the 2018 campaign with an injury. As a sophomore, Coehlo struck out 19 batters in 16.1 innings of work.


Andrew Elliott, WIT

8. Curry

The Curry baseball team enters its second season under head coach Paul Bortolotti. The 2019 Colonels return 17 student-athletes and will welcome 15 newcomers.  Bortolotti will rely on his leadership from his upperclassmen, starting with his captains: junior Adam Duarte (East Providence, R.I.) and senior Tyler Jenkins (East Bridgewater, Mass.). The Colonels also return four of the top six hitters from last year's squad in Jenkins (28), Duarte (23), junior Michael Moreau (Marshfield, Mass.) (23), and senior Jhonathan Oliveira (Peabody, Mass.) (22). The team will also look to its returning pitching staff with sophomore Zachary Wensley (Raynham, Mass.), junior James Mello (Fall River, Mass.) among many others that served in relief roles. There are six newcomers that will see some time on the hill this season while some familiar position players will also pitch. Curry looks to return to the postseason following a year in which they finished 10-19 overall and 4-12 in the CCC.

 
Tyler Jenkins, CC

 

 

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE

The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of nine full member and one associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.

 

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