SEASON PREVIEW: High Hopes for Rutgers-Newark Baseball in '17

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2017 Schedule | 2017 Roster
 
NEWARK, N.J. (February 16, 2017) – The Rutgers University-Newark baseball team will begin its 2017 season Friday, taking part in the Fayetteville Tournament and squaring off against Stevenson University (Friday), Frostburg State University (Saturday) and Penn State University-Abington (Sunday).
 
Rutgers-Newark is coming off a 2016 season in which it narrowly missed out on the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament and experienced significant improvement in overall wins and wins inside the conference.
 
This year, the Scarlet Raiders are eyeing a berth in the league tournament, but have been focused on the daily process of becoming better in each and every aspect of the game each and every day.
 
Head Coach Mark Rizzi and his staff boast a strong group of returners and have added a wealth of talent – both in the form of freshmen and transfers.
 
Infield:
Junior third baseman Brian Boulineau carved out a steady role last year, hitting .268 on the back of 34 hits. He drove in 13 runs and played a nice third base, and the now-veteran will be a steady player for R-N at the top of the lineup and on the hot corner to start the year.
 
Junior Ross Halkias is coming off an all-conference season in which he hit .287 and led the team with a .426 slugging percentage. He clubbed a team-high three homers, and the junior will once again find himself in the middle of a quality lineup as a designated hitter, first baseman and backstop.
 
Sophomore Ryan Zucker made 37 starts for the Scarlet Raiders last year, tallying 23 hits and driving in eight runs while playing a strong second base. Zucker will play a big role in the middle of the infield for the Raiders and should see improved numbers with the bat thanks to a lot of hard work throughout the summer and offseason.
 
Sophomore Casey Hanley should man shortstop early on after hitting .364 in limited action as a rookie. Hanley has the tools and has earned the opportunity to be a key piece for Coach Rizzi's team.
 
Junior Greg Sampson is looking to get healthy and will compete for innings once back in the fold, while freshmen JC BallConnor ClareJordanny NunezChristian DiazKevin Tamsula and Tommy Scanlon will all compete for time. Ball has great athleticism and will battle for innings at SS, Clare has demonstrated solid offensive skills in the early going, while Nunez has nice gap-to-gap power. Diaz is a smart player that will add depth to the middle infield and Tamsula has a wealth of talent and could be a major piece for Newark in both the short and long term. Additionally, Scanlon gives Rizzi another solid option should he need it.
 
Catchers:
Junior Justin Marks headlines the deep and exceptionally talented group of backstops this year. Marks made 37 starts for the Raiders, totaling 37 hits and a .414 slugging percentage in his second season. A player than can do it offensively and defensively, Marks cut down 19 would-be base stealers in 2016 and knows the pitching staff well.
 
Junior Nick Dispenza has continued to improve and should see increased opportunities behind the plate this year after two appearances as a sophomore.
 
Freshman Colin Powers comes on board from powerhouse Saint Peter's Prep. A big and strong player, Powers has impressed early and will be a very good player for the program, while freshman Jeremy Slad adds to the incredibly impressive depth at the position.
 
Outfield:
Senior leftfielder Josh Cote will be an important part of the lineup after taking the field 33 times as a junior. The veteran slugger was the team's top hitter as a sophomore and hopes to be the same as a senior, providing a big bat in the middle of the order and a quality glove and arm in left.
 
Junior Anthony Perconte had a very nice year for the Scarlet Raiders as a sophomore, and the coaching staff thinks big things could be in store for the third year player. A strong outfielder with a good arm, Perconte hit .286 in 2016, slugging .347 and getting on base at a .410 clip which was second on the team.
 
Junior Danny Iannaccone has made big-time strides as a player in his first two seasons with the program and hit .273 in 22 appearances as a sophomore. The Parlin, N.J. native will have a chance to be an integral part of the outfield and could experience new career-marks across the board.
 
Senior Nick Striglia appeared in six games as a junior and hopes to see more action in his final season as a Scarlet Raider. Striglia is a tireless worker and a great team-guy, setting the tone at practice and in games with an infectious attitude.
 
Junior transfer Adam Tricarico has come aboard from Division I Canisius College and has all the makings of an impact player, demonstrating offensive skills, defensive skills and strong work ethic. Junior transfer Joe Biggiani is a great defender with speed that will compete for a spot in the outfield, while freshman Dan Tricarico has a great deal of offensive talent and has a very strong arm. Freshman Corey Kiernan will add to the depth at the position in the early going, and freshman John Klimowich has the talent and tools to play centerfield on the collegiate level and is competing for at-bats.
 
The Pitching Staff: 
Three key returning starters headline this group in sophomore Anthony Rosoline, junior Dominick Fazio and junior Mike Zibrin.
 
Rosoline had a sparkling freshman season in which he went 7-1 in 10 starts, tossing two complete games with an earned-run average of 2.66.  Fazio earned a weekend starting job, getting the ball 10 times and pitching to a tune of a 4.44 ERA. He has worked hard this offseason to improve and came into camp in excellent shape. Zibrin – much like Fazio – came on strong for Rutgers-Newark, earning three wins in 10 starts and finishing the season with a 4.03 ERA. He was second on the team in innings pitched and allowed three earned runs or less in eight of his 10 starts.
 
Juniors Yanni Vayas and Luis Rojas are back from injury and have looked great so far. Both players have high ceilings and could be impact hurlers, but the coaching staff remains cautiously optimistic and will ease them back in the early going.
 
Junior Dan Murphy will be a key member of the back end of the bullpen to start the year and will be asked to get key outs. Murphy has improved immensely since his freshman campaign, and is another player to come to preseason camp in excellent shape. Senior Vincent Enea led the Raiders with three saves in his first year as a member of the program, and he will be another important cog in the back end of the pen. Enea pitched to the tune of a 2.91 ERA in 14 appearances in 2016.
 
Senior Chas Bohannon will see some at-bats and provide depth for the R-N staff after missing last year due to injury. Bohannon was masterful on the mound as a freshman, and hopes to regain that form as a primary hurler for the first time since 2014.
 
Freshmen Michael KatimsVincent ContiJason Palmeri and Brandon Terrizzi are all working for innings on the hill. Katims competes and has a nice fastball, Conti has the potential to be a quality starter coming from a strong Scotch Plains-Fanwood program, while Palmeri has the makeup to be a starter as well. Terrizzi – a lefty – impressed during the fall and should see opportunity as a spot starter and reliever for Rutgers-Newark.
 
Quick Outlook and Links:
After this weekend in N.C., Rutgers-Newark will play four games in the Northeast before traveling to South Carolina for its Spring Break trip. R-N's first game at Riverfront Stadium will be March 23 against Baruch College, and NJAC play opens at The College of New Jersey on April 1.
 
Senior Day is slated for April 29 against Montclair State University and the NJAC Tournament is slated to begin on May 2.
 
Schedule Outlook
NJAC Preseason Poll
 
D3baseball.com
NJAC Baseball Website