Baseball sets sights on NESCAC tourney

After finishing second in the NESCAC West with a 7-5 record last year, just three games behind rival Amherst, baseball aims to improve its record this season and hopefully make a splash in the NESCAC tournament.

“Baseball is a season-long process,” Head Coach Bill Barrale said. The team’s focus must be on “winning all of the individual battles pitch by pitch.”

The Ephs ended last season strong, which bodes well for this season. “They played their best baseball towards the end of the season,” Barrale said. They lost by one run to the eventual NESCAC champion Trinity in their final game of the season.

However, the Ephs will be without some key starters from last season including starting shortstop and clean-up hitter Cameron Susk ’12 who led the team in RBIs and outfielder Stephen Maier ’12. The men will also miss starting pitcher Harry Marino ’12, the first Eph to throw a no-hitter in 23 years. He was also named second team All-NESCAC last season. The Arizona Diamondbacks, in fact, drafted Harry Marino in the 2012 MLB draft, making Harry Marino the first Eph since slugger Jabe Bergeron ’04 to be drafted. After a successful season in rookie ball, Harry Marino was signed by the Orioles and moved up to Class ‘A’ ball.

Despite losing a strong senior class, the men have two promising pitchers to lead the team this season. Thomas Murphy ’15, who led the team with a stellar 3.14 ERA, and Steve Marino ’14, who spent the summer pitching in the Cape Cod league, will look to make an impact this season. Dylan Griswold ’15 and Jacob Slater ’15 will compete to secure that coveted third starter spot after being given some chances last year.

In the bullpen, last year’s closer Jimmy Smith ’13 returns as do Lucas Casso ’13 and Kelso Stevens ’15. Lefty Marty Clarke ’14 and Charlie Baxter ’14 will also look to switch things up this spring.

The infield returns three starters including third basemen and co-captain Taylor Mondshein ’13, who hit .306 last season. Barrale is counting on both Mondshein and second basemen Matt Kastner ’14, who led the team with a .336 batting average last season. First basemen K.C. Murphy ’13 also returns, giving the Ephs an infield nucleus that has started the majority of the games in the past three seasons. The shortstop position is up for grabs this spring, with Beau Horan ’16 looking to make a strong impression on the coaches. Power-hitting catcher Phil McGovern ’15 returns. Designated hitter and utility man Marco Hernandez ’14 also returns.

Darren Hartwell ’13 will lead the outfield, most likely in center field. Last season, Hartwell led the team in stolen bases with 15 and hits with 46. Luke Pierce ’15 will start in left field. The final outfield position is up for grabs and could be won by Tommy Stephens ’14 or Kirby Neuner ’15.

The Ephs travel to Tuscon, Ariz., for spring training where they will play Calvin this Monday. Barrale thinks that the fourth game of spring training against nationally-ranked University of Wisconsin at La Crosse will be a good barometer for the men. Baseball will conclude spring training with three games against Middlebury on March 29 to 30.

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