Immediate Release: February 19, 2005
Contact: John Hartrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
University baseball opens season Friday at No. 28 Oklahoma State
aim to continue progress from successful '04 campaign
paper, the 2005 Bearcats have lost plenty from their 22-21 team
of a year ago. After achieving a 15 1/2-game turnaround that
ranked third in the nation last spring, 13th-year head coach
Tim Sinicki must replace three starting pitchers including his
No. 1 man plus his 3-4-5 hitters.
Offensively is where BU took the hardest hit from graduation.
Gone are the programs all-time home run king and first
team all-region player (Jay Balback) and a two-time all-conference
selection (T.J. Kowalchuk), who racked up a combined 22 home
runs and 80 RBI last spring.
But Sinicki believes his 2005 edition, while less potent at the
plate and less experienced on the mound, has its own strengths
primarily defense, team speed and depth up and down the
Although we lost a fair amount of offensive production
from last years team, we have a very good core of returning
players who are a year older, stronger and more experienced,
he said. We also have mixed in a couple of junior college
transfers who have performed very well in some of the best junior
college conferences in the country.
This years team will be significantly different than
the 2004 team in many ways, he said. Offensively,
I dont think well hit the home runs like we did last
year (26th in nation), but with that, we should cut down on strikeouts.
Our lineup should produce a lot of doubles, have greater overall
speed, and guys who should be able to handle the bat really well.
Our pitching depth is very good and I really like our chances
to defend at a high level, which should in turn, give our pitching
staff a great deal of confidence.
bat, return of Smucker solidify infield unit
Three of four infielders are back, headed by senior first baseman
Jamie Boyer, a second team America East all-star in 2004.
Boyer was second on the team in home runs (10) and RBI (40)
and feasted off conference pitching to the tune of a .338 average
and .743 slugging percentage. He ranks among the programs
top-10 in four career categories and is a threat to knock the
ball out of the park at any time.
Jamie has proven to be one of the most prolific offensive
threats in our conference, Sinicki said. Were
counting on him to once again be a big-time run producer for
us and to again earn a spot on the all-conference team.
Back in the middle of the infield are senior shortstop Keith
Ford and sophomore second baseman Matt Simek. Fords
on-base percentage of .387 was second-best on the team, and he
stole a BU-best 11 bases, making him an ideal leadoff man. Simek
enjoyed an excellent freshman campaign, earning selection to
the America East All-Rookie squad. He turned 11 double plays
and committed just one error in 116 chances, and at the plate,
showed pop in the bat with 10 extra-base hits.
The infield will be bolstered by the return of sophomore No.
2 hitter Justin Smucker, who missed the entire 2004 season
with an injury. Smucker made just 12 errors at shortstop in
180 chances as a freshman, and his work ethic has drawn high
praise from Sinicki.
The return of Justin to our everyday lineup is a tremendous
boost to our players and coaching staff, he said. Justin
works harder than any single person Ive ever coached and
watching him is certainly an inspiration. He is an outstanding
defensive infielder and showed signs at the end of his freshman
year of becoming a guy who can hit for a high average and be
counted on to drive in some runs. Justin can play all three
infield positions (3B, 2B, SS) and its not a stretch to
say he may be the best at all three. His ability and flexibility
gives us tremendous options with our defensive lineups.
But with all the talk of the key infield returnees, the most
significant role might be played by junior college transfer Mathieu
Bergeron, who will play third base and DH. Bergeron is a
left-handed power hitter who hit .357 with 10 home runs and 38
RBI for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M last spring, and Sinicki
will immediately load him up in the clean-up spot.
Bergeron has the ability to be one of the premier hitters
in the conference, Sinicki said. He should hit for
average and power, and has a tremendous feel for the strike zone,
which could equate to a high number of walks.
Fourth-year letterwinner Brian Lindsay and newcomers Ryan James
and Matt Fernandez round out the infield corps.
can cover ground
Senior center fielder Whitney Powell returns to anchor
a speedy but thin outfield unit. Powell recorded 83 putouts
in center last season, and is also a dangerous runner on the
base paths, swiping 80% of his attempts in 2004. Joining Powell
is fellow junior college transfer and speedster Aaron Davis,
an all-conference selection from Skyline College in California.
Davis batted .387 and led his team to 29 wins and a divisional
title in 2004. He is slated to patrol right field.
Sophomore Brendon Hitchcock, the teams top returning
hitter, returns in left field, but will begin to see some time
at first base as well. The smooth-hitting lefthander batted
.305 with 30 RBI in 2004, and was a second team America East
all-star and an All-Rookie choice. Hitchcock also led the entire
conference with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in the outfield
(no errors in 98 chances). He is slated to bat third in Sinickis
Sophomore Jeff Monaco provides another highly athletic
option with some pop in his bat, and starting infielder Keith
Ford can also play the outfield if needed.
and Haughie will split bulk of catching duties
Senior Chris Darling and sophomore Pat Haughie
will likely split time behind the plate. Darling has shown great
improvement in the last year, and extended his production to
the pitching mound, where he posted two wins, two saves and a
team-best 3.16 earned run average, primarily as a reliever.
At the plate, Darling drove in 10 runs in 14 starts. Haughie,
an excellent defensive catcher with a good eye at the plate,
is coming off a sparkling freshman campaign in which he earned
America East All-Rookie honors. He threw out 13-of-36 baserunners
and had an on-base percentage of .392, which was buoyed by a
team-high 21 walks.
Pat is one of the best catch-throw guys in the conference,
Sinicki said. Offensively, he has the ability to be a
middle of the order type hitter for us eventually.
Junior John Hark can also fill in behind the plate.
injuries, departures have opened door for newcomers
Graduation and injuries have forced a drastic makeover of Sinickis
pitching staff for the 2005 season. Of the nine pitchers who
went at least 20 innings last spring, only four return, meaning
several newcomers will have a chance to step in and play key
roles in the rotation. Injuries will cost 2004 No. 1 starter
David Lind (9 starts, 4.40 ERA) and top reliever Tom Gaube (2-0,
3 saves, 4.44 ERA) the 2005 season.
Losing David and Tom for the season will certainly have
an impact on our pitching staff, Sinicki acknowledged.
My hope is that one or two or even the entire staff will
look at this as an opportunity to either enhance their roles
within the staff and/or pitch more innings than maybe they had
The ace of the staff is sophomore Zach Groh, who won four
games as a freshman and was the teams go-to pitcher in
the final playoff push in May. Groh had a 4.32 ERA in league
games, and led BU in strikeouts and was ninth in the America
East in strikeouts per game (8.44). In his final three outings
(17.1 innings), he struck out 18 and allowed only four earned
Zach has established himself as a pitcher who can win and
win big at this level, Sinicki said. He may have
the best slider in the conference and his velocity continues
Newcomers Jarrod Rampey and Scott Diamond are expected
to move into top-3 spots in the rotation. Rampey, a junior transfer,
was a two-year starter for Wofford College (S.C.) and established
himself as one of the programs top pitchers. Last spring
he won four games and had the second-most strikeouts on the team
with 41. A former all-state pitcher for Pittsford-Sutherland
High School in Rochester, Rampey now returns to Upstate New York
for his final two collegiate seasons.
Jarrod brings a wealth of talent and experience to our
staff, Sinicki said. He has pitched at a very high
level in the Southern Conference the last two seasons and were
counting on him for quality innings and stability in our weekend
Diamond is a 6-foot-2 lefthander from Guelph, Ontario, who was
rated the 21st-best Canadian high school player by Baseball America.
He pitched three years for Team Ontario, owning a 1.85 ERA with
181 strikeouts in 166.3 innings.
Scott has been the most impressive newcomer on the mound
thus far, Sinicki said. He has the ability to be
one of the best pitchers Ive ever had in the program.
Senior lefthander Mike Weglinski is a dependable veteran
who logged a team-best 50 innings last season. He won three
games with a save and held down a 4.86 ERA. Weglinskis
best outing was against VMI, when he tossed six innings of no-hit
relief to earn the victory. His ability to spot pitches and
change speeds makes him a valuable option as a starter or reliever.
Binghamtons bullpen was one of the teams strengths
last season, posting a 14-3 record with a 5.29 ERA. Junior Adam
Shatkun, who is undefeated in his collegiate career, should
continue to provide middle-inning relief. Last season, the righthander
went 5-0 with a 3.60 ERA. In 30 innings, he allowed just six
walks and six extra-base hits, and puts good movement on the
Junior transfer Nick Bogdanoff, a sidearm righty, is expected
to be the teams closer. At Skyline College (Calif.) last
spring, he went 7-0 with a 3.40 ERA.
Newcomers Khalid Afify, Gary Freas and Gio Yannuzzi,
along with second-year pitcher Mike Van Gorder, round
out the staff. Afify is a hard-throwing freshman righthander
who can hit 90 mph, and Yannuzzi gives Sinicki a third lefthanded
option on the mound. Afify, Yannuzzi and Van Gorder represent
half of Sinickis six Binghamton-area recruits in the program.
Despite the two injuries (to Lind and Gaube), I do think
our pitching depth is very good, Sinicki said. Were
hoping to make up for the quantity with quality. I feel like
we have 10 guys who can compete at this level. Were not
a staff that will strike out a ton of hitters, so its going
to be important to get ahead of hitters early and then make them
put the ball in play so we can defend.
schedule begins at No. 23 Oklahoma State
Binghamtons 54-game schedule begins with a daunting three-game
set at Oklahoma State University, which was ranked No. 23 in
the Collegiate Baseball Pre-Season Poll. The Cowboys won 38
games and captured the Big 12 title in 2004, and are the first
nationally-ranked team BU has faced at the Division I level.
The non-conference schedule continues throughout March with trips
to Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. In all, the Bearcats
will play their first 20 games on the road before a scheduled
three-game home series with Long Island University on April 2-3.
Binghamton will play eight games against 2004 NCAA tournament
teams (Oklahoma State, St. Bonaventure and Le Moyne) and will
continue rivalries with in-state opponents Cornell and Siena.
The Bearcats will also play six first-time opponents.
Our schedule is once again built to challenge and prepare
our players for the rigors of America East competition,
Reigning conference champion Stony Brook, four-time league winner
Maine, 2003 champ Northeastern and 2005 tournament host Vermont
will all likely be in the mix as the America East season hits
full stride. The conferencs schedule is a 21-game slate (three-game
series against the seven AE opponents) that culminates
with the four-team 2005 America East Championship, May 26-28
at Vermonts Centennial Field.
in on conference tournament spot a priority
After 20 conference games last spring, BU fell one win shy of
advancing to the four-team America East tournament, and climbing
that hurdle remains Sinickis number one goal.
The America East will once again be strong from top to
bottom, he said. There is no time to catch your
breath and relax once conference play begins April 9-10. Any
of the eight teams is capable of qualifying for the conference
tournament and from there, well, anything is possible.
The last two championship tournaments have indeed shown that
anything is possible. In 2003 and 2004, the No. 4 seed has won
the America East title and carried the America East banner into
the NCAA regionals.
The Bearcats are chomping at the bit to take a shot at the title,
and with a solid defense and strong depth across the board, the
2005 edition could earn that chance.