Baseball seeks to build on 2009 West Division title

Baseball is looking to build on last season’s success and improve on its NESCAC tournament play this season. The team finished with a 25-12 overall record last year and won the NESCAC West Division, only to be eliminated in the third round of NESCAC tournament play.

The squad is filled with a strong core of returning Ephs, including captain Al Mathews ’10. Mathews led the team at the plate last year, hitting .466a and knocking in 51 runs, both team highs. He also led the team in fielding with a 0.980 average last season and will return as a member of the team’s talented outfield. Stephen Maier ’12 and Pat Barren ’11 will join Mathews in the outfield, while Maier will also reprise his role as the lead-off man in the men’s batting order and hopefully build on last season’s 0.349 batting average.

Robin Allemand ’10 and Chad Brown ’10 will be returning as the team’s starting shortstop and catcher, respectively. KC Murphy ’13 and Andrew Bishop ’13 will compete to become the starting first baseman. James Allison ’11, Jim Entwisle ’10 and Cameron Susk ’12 will return to complete the infield.

The team’s real depth lies in its pitching. The team has 16 pitchers, only seven of whom can play other positions. Both Tom Coleman ’10 and Paul Burgdorf ’10 have a lot of experience, while Harry Marino ’12 returns as the starting left-handed pitcher. Burgdorf and Marino, who struck out 28 batters each last season, represent the leaders in the category among returning Ephs. Wilson Barr ’11 and Matt Berdoff ’12, who only allowed five hits last season, will also be looked to for large contributions this season. Head Coach Bill Barrale plans on “giving them all an opportunity” to play and said that since there are a lot of pitchers, “somebody, or even two somebodies, need to step up and have a breakout role. They’re all very talented and I expect lots of competition.”

The Ephs will travel to Arizona to open their season over spring break. The team’s first two games against Southern Maine and Eastern Connecticut State, ranked No. 12 and No. 3, respectively. Williams will play a total of 16 games in Arizona, including three against NESCAC rival Middlebury.

Both Mathews and Barrale emphasized the importance of the Arizona games. “Arizona is half of our season,” Mathews said. “It is [our] team’s goal to start and finish strong.”

Barrale focused on the more technical parts of the game: “We lack power behind our hits, so we don’t score a lot of home runs. We play ‘small ball.’” He says one of his goals for the season is to get his team to “win on a pitch-to-pitch game.” “Baseball is a weird game, mentally,” Barrale said. “There’s no time clock in baseball; it’s just a series of pitches, so we’ve been trying to get the boys to take everything one pitch at a time.”

“This is a great group of guys and I’m proud to play my last season of baseball with them,” Mathews added.

The Ephs’ first home game is April 7 against Keene State.

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