Release: February 18, 2009
Contact: John Hartrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
BU baseball set to defend America East regular-season crown
February 20-21 at Dallas Baptist
emerged as the most successful and consistent program in the
America East over the last five years, Binghamton will be gunning
for its third straight regular season title in 2009.
Despite an overhauled roster, the Bearcats won a second straight
regular season crown last spring but fell just short in the conference
tournament, settling for runnerup honors for the second straight
This year's team will have to absorb additional heavy losses,
including program ace and three-time first team all-star Zach
Groh, captain and first team all-conference infielder Ryan James
and second-team all-star first baseman Ryan Holley.
But 17th-year head coach Tim Sinicki still returns six position
starters and half of his pitching rotation, and with immediate
production from several newcomers, the Bearcats could again be
in the thick of things come May.
"This team has a chance to be as good as it wants to be,"
Sinicki said. "The talent is there, both in our position
players and on the mound. The biggest keys to our success in
my opinion are going to be the development of our young pitchers
and our internal leadership."
Outfield corps is very talented
The Bearcats' strength lies in its corps of outfielders, who
are young and talented two-way players.
Leading the way is sophomore right fielder Peter Bregartner,
who topped the team in batting (.319) and was named the America
East Rookie of the Year in 2008. Bregartner had 18 multi-hit
games as a freshman and strung together a 14-game hit streak
in early April.
Back after a year away is speedy sophomore center fielder Henry
Dunn, who earned second team America East and Louisville Slugger
Freshman All-America honors in 2007 after an outstanding freshman
season. A leadoff hitter with 20 RBI and 20 runs in 37 starts,
Dunn was equally productive on defense, tracking down fly balls
in the alleys and committing just two errors.
Junior left fielder and designated hitter Joe Charron led the
team and ranked sixth in the America East with 43 RBI in 2008.
A power hitter who batted No. 3 in the lineup all 56 games, Charron
belted a team-high eight home runs, had 19 multi-hit games and
two games with five RBI.
Sophomore center fielder Corey Taylor came on strong midway through
his freshman season and despite an all-star snub from the conference
coaches, had an outstanding campaign. He hit .418 in 20 games
against America East opponents - tops in the entire conference.
Taylor also drove in 19 runs and had 10 extra-base hits in league
play. His defense was stellar as well.
Senior Ken Jacobi, a veteran left-handed hitter, is a solid option
off the bench. He drove in 10 runs in 15 conference starts and
has been a four-year contributor.
"We have a tremendous amount of talent and depth in our
outfield," Sinicki said. "I think that the combination
of Joe (Charron), Pete (Bregartner) and Corey (Taylor) was the
best overall outfield in the conference last season. Then you
add a veteran presence like Ken (Jacobi) to the mix along with
the return of Henry (Dunn) - who has a chance to be the most
exciting player in the conference, and you see why we as a staff
feel so strongly about this group."
Sophomore transfer John Miele and freshmen Dave Ciocchi begin
their first seasons at BU in 2009. Miele hit .473 as a senior
at St. Francis Prep, and earned a spot on the roster as a walk-on.
Ciocchi was an all-state outfielder for John Jay East Fishkill,
hitting .420 as a senior.
All-star Klee anchors infield
Senior Kyle Klee is back to anchor the infield, which loses three
of its four starters from 2008. Klee earned first team all-conference
honors at shortstop after hitting .303 and driving in 41 runs.
This spring Klee will move back to third base, where he played
as a sophomore.
"Kyle is the glue to the infield, no question," Sinicki
said. "Defensively he is as talented as anyone in the conference,
and Kyle will continue to be a guy we turn to for production
in the middle of our lineup."
Junior Jeff Abrams will take over at shortstop, and junior college
transfer Jim Calderone is slated to step in at second base. Abrams
started 20 games last season, and had a .353 on-base percentage.
Calderone hit .391 and was team MVP for Oakton Community College
(Ill.) last spring. He was a freshman starter and hit .324 at
St. Francis University two seasons ago.
With the late departure of Holley at first base, Sinicki is juggling
multi-positional players, looking for the best fit to stabilize
that hole. Bregartner, Ciocci and junior Matt Simone are in the
mix to take over.
Freshmen Eric Secor and Lane Warner round out the infield. Secor
was an all-region middle infielder for Sayre Area High School,
twice earning team MVP honors. Warner was a two-time all-state
shortstop at Fabius-Pompey High who hit .542 as a senior.
"I think our middle combination of Jeff (Abrams) and Jim
(Calderone) will be one of the best in the conference,"
Sinicki said. "Jeff is slick with the glove and continues
to improve his offense daily. Jim is extremely talented and brings
a great deal of experience from high-level play at the NAIA and
junior college level."
Sophomore tandem behind plate
Second-year catchers C.J. Lukaszewski and Jeff Skelhorne-Gross
return to handle the catching duties. Lukaszewski started 29
games and Skelhorne-Gross worked 26, giving Sinicki a steady
tandem behind the plate.
Lukaszewski hit .341 in conference play and after his season
was cut short with a hand injury, Skelhorne-Gross took over and
batted .324 the rest of the way.
Senior Tom Baileys played in 30 games with 18 starts, and can
catch, play first base or DH. Baileys hit .299 with 15 RBI and
a .372 on-base percentage in 2008.
Dennis, Smith lead pitching staff
Senior lefty Jeff Dennis and junior right-hander Murphy Smith
anchor a starting pitching rotation that will have to overcome
the loss of staff ace Zach Groh and gritty lefty starter Gio
Yannuzzi, who combined for eight wins and 137.2 innings of work
Dennis, 6-foot-6, was drafted in the 40th round of the MLB Amateur
Draft by the Oakland Athletics, but opted to return to school
for his senior year. Dennis went 4-5 with a 3.97 earned run average
in 2008, and opponents hit just .223 off him.
"Jeff has emerged as a legitimate number one starter and
can be as dominant as anyone in the conference," Sinicki
said. "I think Jeff has really matured in the past year
or so, and now understands what his strengths are and how to
pitch to those strengths."
Smith went 6-4 with his sixth win being a two-hit shutout over
Vermont in the
America East tournament. Smith held down a 4.09 ERA in 15 starts.
"Murphy really turned a lot of heads last season, his first
in the weekend rotation," Sinicki said. "His greatest
attribute might be his consistency. Every time Murph takes the
mound you kind of know what you're going to get. He has really
learned to command both his assortment of pitches as well as
the strike zone."
The bullpen remains solid with senior all-star Greg Lane and
lefty middle reliever James Giulietti.
Lane was dominant last spring, racking up a school-record and
conference-best 11 saves en route to first team America East
honors. He added three wins and held down a 1.97 earned run average
in 24 appearances.
Giulietti went 3-0 with a 4.66 earned run average in conference
Other returning bullpen candidates include sophomore Morgan Smith
(2-2) and junior Matt Simone (1-0).
Sinicki has seven new pitchers, with freshmen Mike Augliera,
Walker McKinven and Aaron Schuldt pushing for starts. Augliera
was a third team all-state selection for Old Bridge High in New
Jersey, posting a 1.65 career earned run average. McKinven, a
prized recruit from Illinois, redshirted last season after suffering
an injury. As a senior reliever at New Trier High, McKinven went
undefeated for a team that was ranked as high as No. 6 in the
state. Schuldt went 5-2 with a 1.68 ERA for Liverpool High last
spring, earning All-Central New York accolades.
Other pitchers on the squad include freshmen Robert Rogers, Billy
Hurley and Alex Adami. First-year player Scott Swanson is out
for the season with an injury.
"I think we might have the best combination of top two starters
and closer (Greg Lane) in the conference," Sinicki said.
"There is going to be some serious competition for the final
two spots in our weekend rotation. James (Giulietti), Walker
(McKinven), Mike (Augliera), Alex (Adami)
they are all
in the mix at this point. Overall I like this staff a lot
it's deep, talented and has the makings to be very very good."
53-game slate spans 3 months
Binghamton opens its season with a three-game set at 2008 NCAA
participant Dallas Baptist on February 20-21. A four-game series
at University of New Mexico on March 6-8 and three games at the
America East-Northeast Conference Challenge (March 27-29) also
highlight the early season slate.
The Bearcats will play their first 21 games on the road before
welcoming conference foe Hartford to Varsity Field on April 4-5.
Other matchups of note include single games against in-state
rivals Marist (April 1), Cornell (April 8), Siena (April 14)
and Army (April 21) and a four-game set at Lehigh (April 21-22).
Binghamton will play a four-game series against each of the six
America East opponents, with defending champion Stony Brook (April
18-19) and Vermont (May 15-16) making the trip to Vestal this
conference championship will be held May 21-23 at a site to be
determined. There, the Bearcats will try to break through and
claim the program's first conference title after back-to-back
runnerup finishes at the 2007 and 2008 championship tournaments.
The conference is going to be as good and balanced as ever,"
Sinicki said. "Coaches are working as hard as I've ever
staffs hitting the road recruiting and with the improved
facilities teams are getting a lot accomplished in the non-traditional
and off-seasons. Our goals, however, remain the same
hard to win the regular season championship and number one seed
in the AEC Tournament, then capture the tournament title and
automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament. I feel strongly
that both goals are within our reach this spring."