BU bolsters lineup for America East debut
Much is new in 2002.
Tenth-year head coach Tim Sinicki has his Bearcats playing in
a new conference with a new and more-demanding schedule. Though
BU played in a Division I league last spring, this years
America East membership carries with it greater stakes
namely an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I tournament. To
aid his teams transition, Sinicki has brought in a dozen
new players, and is eager to begin the programs Division
I tenure in the seven-team America East.
Were excited to be part of this conference,
Sinicki said. All four remaining schools (Maine, Vermont,
Boston University and Hartford) have great baseball traditions,
and weve already shared a strong rivalry with Albany and
Stony Brook. It will be a tremendous challenge for our kids.
Of Sinickis 12 new faces, six will bolster a pitching staff
that showed flashes of brilliance but lacked depth a year ago.
Unfortunately, three-year staff ace Jeff Montani wont be
back for his senior season after signing a professional contract
with the Baltimore Orioles.
Highlighting the group is senior David Eagan, a left-handed workhorse
who returns after missing the entire 2001 season with an elbow
injury. Eagan went 7-3 and carried a 3.80 earned run average
in 2000, earning all-conference honors. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds,
he eats up a lot of innings, and will take the ball as the teams
number one pitcher this spring.
David looks strong and healthy, Sinicki said. He
has already caught the eye of scouts, and with a good spring,
he could further his career at the professional level. We will
need him to be dominant.
Junior transfer Jacob Thiel could be the number two starter.
Thiel brings a wealth of talent from Canada College in California.
As a closer and starter last spring, he won two games, saved
four, and posted a 2.70 ERA. Thiel struck out 25 and walked just
four in 30 innings.
Jake improved every time he took the mound during the fall
season, Sinicki said. By the end of the fall, he
had given us a tremendous amount of confidence in his ability
to be competitive in America East games.
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Thiel also brings the added bonus of
offensive power. At Canada College, he batted .305, and will
likely bat fifth in the BU lineup when not on the mound.
Jake has tremendous home run power and also is the fastest
runner on our team, Sinicki said.
Senior captain Greg Sousa could be the teams third starter.
Sousa won three games in 2001, including two key conference tilts
that helped the Bearcats snare runner-up honors.
Greg has already demonstrated ability to win against Division
I opponents, Sinicki said. He needs to have command
to be successful, but when he does, he has the ability to shut
teams down with a variety of pitches.
Junior Josh Fuerst, along with freshmen Johnmin Hickey and Mike
Weglinski will provide Sinicki with available spot-starters.
Fuerst, 6-foot-5, won twice in five starts last spring, including
a commanding 5-1 win over Stony Brook.
Hickey is a talented 6-foot-4 recruit from Reno, Nevada who lost
just twice in his scholastic career. He was a three-time first-team
Six-foot-4 junior lefty Phil Artonio returns as the bullpen stopper.
Artonio went 4-1 with two saves and a team-best 3.50 ERA last
spring, earning first-team all-conference honors.
Jason Heindorf and freshmen Tom Gaube and Adam Shatkun will also
work in relief.
Gaubes arm strength caught the attention of Sinicki, who
converted the local recruit from third base to pitcher.
Junior Kyle Loucks and senior Steve Kohan again give Sinicki
a solid tandem behind the plate.
Loucks started 30 games at catcher and designated hitter last
season, and batted .287. Kohan played in 25 games, and closed
out the season on a tear, batting .500 in three post-season games.
Freshman Chris Darling, an all-league scholastic standout, offers
Sinicki the luxury of a third catcher with dependable skills.
Gone is shortstop Tim Macko, a first-team all-conference player
who graduated as the programs all-time home run leader.
The other three infield positions are holdovers, however.
Sophomore Jamie Boyer is back at first base, where he started
45 of 46 games as a freshman. Boyer collected 41 hits with 29
RBI both second-best to Macko. He showed some pop in the
bat with 13 extra-base hits and was named second-team all-conference.
Senior J.T. Martin, a veteran infielder with power, will back-up
at first and get some additional swings at DH.
Junior Tyler McGonigal is back at third base after hitting .289
with four home runs and 20 RBI in 2001. He struck out only 11
times in 121 at-bats, and may bat leadoff in Sinickis 2002
Senior Cesar Suero and sophomore Matt Caputo split the role at
second base last spring, and may do the same this year. Suero
made 33 starts in 2001, and is more of a defensive force.
Caputo hit .310 in 36 games, and like Suero, can also play third
At short, freshman Brian Lindsay has the inside track on the
starting spot. A slick-fielding 6-foot-2 athlete, he led Horseheads
High School to the state title as a sophomore, and was a two-time
first-team all-conference infielder.
Freshman Shawn Collyer, a .526 hitter and all-state scholastic
shortstop, will see time as well.
Senior Tim Collar, already entrenched in numerous career top-10
categories, occupies left field and more importantly, the clean-up
spot for his final collegiate season. Last spring, Collar made
32 starts despite a nagging foot injury, and drove in 16 runs.
We are expecting Tim to pick up where he left of in his
sophomore year (.363 average with 44 RBI), Sinicki said.
As our clean-up hitter, Tim needs to produce in order for
us to be successful.
Sophomore T.J. Kowalchuk should gain the start in center field.
Kowalchuk enjoyed a solid freshman campaign, belting five home
runs and driving in 18 runs.
Junior Tony Berube, a transfer from Keystone College, is slated
to start in right field. Berube, who played high school ball
just a few miles down the road at Vestal High, batted .407 for
Keystone last spring.
We didnt recruit Tony to be a role player,
Sinicki said. Were counting on him in the middle
of the order to drive in runs and solidify our outfield.
Senior Austin Walters returns to the team after a year away,
and can play anywhere in the outfield. Walters batted .307 with
nine doubles in 2000.
Junior Tom Cummings, who had a .423 on-base percentage in 2001,
will also see time, as will senior Jared Goldstein and freshman
In addition to the challenging 24-game America East conference
slate, BU will battle several elite programs, including Delaware
State (37-10 in 2001), Western Carolina (30 wins) and NCAA tournament
teams Bucknell and Maryland-Baltimore County.
The Bearcats will play their first 28 games on the road before
hosting Cornell on April 9.
Sinicki is eying a top-four finish in the conference, which would
open the door to the America East Championship tournament, May
23-25 at University of Maine.