New England Regional Preview

By Tristan Hobbes for

Erik Bergstrom will be looking to get Keen State a regional championship in 2012.
Keene State athletics photo

The New England regional is the biggest region in the country and this year features six 30-win teams, the most of any regional. Western New England emerged victorious last season and is the fifth seed this season. The region also features five teams that have won at least one regional championship in the past. This year’s regional returns to Mansfield, Conn., for the third time in the last four years.

No. 8 Wheaton and No. 11 St. Joseph’s are the top teams in the regional and are the only ranked teams in the regional. Joining them will be NESCAC champion Trinity, CCC champ Western New England, LEC champ Southern Maine and MASCAC champ Bridgewater St. Keene St. and Bowdoin received at-large bids to the regional and will be the fourth and seventh seeds, respectively.

New England Regional Schedule
Wednesday, May 16
G    Time     Participants     
1     10:00 am    Keene State (31-13) vs. Western New England (33-11)
2     1:00 pm      Wheaton (MA) (34-8) vs. Bridgewater State (30-13)
3     4:00 pm      Trinity (Conn.) (32-9) vs.  Southern Maine  (27-17)
4     7:00 pm      Saint Joseph's (ME) (37-5) vs. Bowdoin (25-18)
Thursday, May 17         
5     10:00 am     Loser of game 1 vs. Loser of game 2     
6     1:00 pm       Loser of game 3 vs. Loser of game 4     
7     4:00 pm       Winner of game 1 vs. Winner of game 2     
8     7:00 pm       Winner of game 3 vs. Winner of game 4
Friday, May 18     
9     10:00 am     Winner of game 6 vs. Loser of game 7     
10     1:00 pm     Winner of game 5 vs. Loser of game 8     
11     4:00 pm     Winner of game 7 vs. Winner of game 8     
12     7:00 pm     Winner of game 9 vs. Winner of game 10     
Saturday, May 19         
13     1:00 pm     Winner of game 12 vs. Loser of game 11         
14     4:00 pm     Winner of game 11 vs. Winner of game 13         
Sunday, May 20    
15     1:00 pm     Same as game 14, if necessary 

Favorite: Wheaton has been the top team in the region all season long and they come in as the clear-cut favorite this week. They won their 12th NEWMAC title two weeks ago and have fashioned one of top team ERAs in the region at 2.60. Frank Holbrook and Alex Palioca both won seven games and Sean Ryan has returned from injury better than ever. The Lyons went 7-2 against the rest of the regional bracket during the regular season.

Most likely to disappoint: With a region that is so tough from top to bottom, St. Joseph’s could find itself out early. They draw a tough first round opponent in intrastate rival Bowdoin, a team they lost to during the regular season. They also haven’t played a meaningful game in nearly two weeks.

Cinderella: Bowdoin received an at-large bid to the tournament and that second life could be just the boost they need. With Oliver Van Zant leading the Polar Bear pitching staff, a first round upset could be in the cards, and having Christian Martin in game two gives Bowdoin one of the top 1-2 combos in the regional.

Players to Watch:
OF Sean Ryan, Wheaton (Mass.) (.403, 73 H, 16 2B, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 41 R, 24 SB)
SP Chad Rafferty, St. Joseph’s (Maine) (9-0, 1 S, 1.97 ERA, 59.1 IP, 19 BB, 61 SO)
INF Stephen Rogers, Trinity (Conn.) (.392, 56 H, 5 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 38 R, 13 SB)
OF Kyle Morrill, Keene St. (.431, 5 2B, 7 3B, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 51 R, 13 SB)
INF Mike Rubino, Western New England (.409, 70 H, 17 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 46 RBI, 40 R)
DH Tucker White, Southern Maine (.393, 70 H, 10 2B, 9 3B, 6 HR, 46 RBI, 45 R)
SP Oliver Van Zant, Bowdoin (5-2, 2.20 ERA, 65.1 IP, 26 BB, 89 SO)
INF Sean Riley, Bridgewater St. (.390, 25 2B, 6 3B, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 52 R)