Mid-Atlantic Regional Preview

No. 2 Keystone has its highest preseason ranking after making it to the Championship series in the D-III World Series last season.
Keystone athletics photo

By Jim Dixon

The Mid-Atlantic Region has seen as many teams come home with a Walnut and Bronze as any other region,. In 2017 more than ten teams are garnering attention in the 2017 Preseason Top 25. Top on the list is Keystone coming in just behind Cortland State as the second ranked team. The Giants are expected to live up to their nickname but will find plenty of challengers in the powerhouse NJAC. Ramapo returns a veteran team but will find plenty of competition from perennial power Kean. Don't count out TCNJ as they climbed back into the national picture last year. 

Alvernia, Johns Hopkins, and Misericordia topped their conferences in 2016 and are looking to repeat and unseat the favorites in the region. Dark horse Widener will find that wins will pile up but will the Pride have enough to make the trip to Appleton. Keystone and Ramapo have big shoes to fill without Chris Triano or Joe Venturino on their respective lineups but return big pieces that find both with good prospects in making another try for the national championship trophy.

New Faces

New Arcadia head coach Bryan Torresani is no stranger to the MAC as a graduate of Elizabethtown.
Arcadia athletics photo

Bryan Torresani, Arcadia: Bryan Torresani has returned to the MAC as Arcadia new head coach. He is coming from Immaculata where he has a four year record of success with the Mighty Mac program. "My family and I are genuinely excited to be joining Arcadia University. Throughout the process I was continually impressed with the people at Arcadia. The resources are in place for a long, successful run and for that I am extremely grateful." Torresani  helped lead the Elizabethtown Blue Jays to three straight postseason appearances, which included winning the MAC Commonwealth title and making an appearance at the NCAA Mideast Regional in 2006.

Phill Shallenberger, Cairn: Phill Shallenberger, a 2010 graduate of Geneva, was named head coach for Cairn after working with the program as an assistant coach in 2014 and 2015. Most recently, Shallenberger was a graduate manager with Division I Belmont. "I'm so excited to be back at Cairn," said Shallenberger on Monday, "The people are a huge reason why I wanted to come back. Cairn is full of great people and is a great place to work with and mentor young adults.

Cory Schad, Cazenovia: Cory Schad enters his fifth season with Cazenovia, and his first as head coach. Schad, a 2009 graduate of Cazenovia joined the coaching staff in 2012. Prior to his time with the Wildcats, Schad played two seasons at Mohawk Valley CC. Before arriving at MVCC, Schad starred at Bishop Grimes HS in Syracuse and holds the school’s single season record for strikeouts as a pitcher (84). Coach Schad has worked previously as an assistant coach for Mohawk Valley CC and at Bishop Grimes HS.

Kevin Schneider, Immaculata:  Kevin Schneider was named the third head coach in Immaculata baseball history this summer. Schneider said of the opportunity, "I'm extremely excited and honored to be the new head baseball coach at Immaculata University. With a first class administration and baseball facilities, I'm anxious to begin building a program that will chase a CSAC Championship and represent the university the right way on and off the field. The future is bright and I can't wait to get to work." 

Dan DiBartolomeo starts his third year with the Knights as their new head coach.
Neumann athletics photo

Dan DiBartolomeo, Neumann: Dan DiBartolomeo replaced John Fleming at Neumann. DiBartolomeo, an assistant coach at Neumann for the past two seasons, oversaw much of the recruiting process as well as working with the infielders, base runners and hitting. "I am truly honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Neumann University baseball team. I would like to thank the Athletic Department, as a whole, for this tremendous opportunity," says DiBartolomeo.

Brian Algeo, Valley Forge: Valley Forge announced the hiring of 2007 alum Brian Algeo as their new head coach. Algeo said "I am extremely excited and honored to be the next baseball coach at UVF. I cannot wait to meet the guys and get to work. We will be a young team by looking at the roster and incoming students but will definitely have a foundation to build upon."  Algeo replaced Mark Norton who was 1-28 in his only season as the Patriot's head coach.

Games to Watch in 2017

March 3: Keystone at Johns Hopkins: No. 2 Keystone opens their season at Johns Hopkins.

March 4: Cortland at Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays finish a stretch where they play five ranked (four in the Top 10) in six games.

April 6-9: Conference showdown weekend: Kean plays a home-home series with Ramapo and the Roadrunners turn it around on Saturday, hosting TCNJ. Alvernia travels to Widener for a MAC-Commonwealth series that could determine the regular season winner. Moravian hosts Susquehanna on the weekend with a three game set with the winner becoming the  favorite to win the Landmark.

April 29: Kean at TCNJ: Kean and TCNJ finishes the NJAC schedule with a doubleheader that will shuffle the seeding in the NJAC tournament.

May 6: Penn State-Berks at Penn State-Abington: The top teams from the 2016 NEAC standings battle for what could be the top seed in the conference tournament.

Conference Previews

Senior shortstop Conor Reynolds is a four-year starter for the Blue Jays.
Johns Hopkins athletics photo

Centennial Conference: Johns Hopkins (28-15-2) finished the regular season ahead of Haverford but finished second to the Fords in the conference championship game. The Blue Jays received an at-large bid but made a quick 0-2 exit in the Mideast Regional. When Johns Hopkins grabs the bats for the first time, it will be their best player heading to the batters box. Shortstop Conor Reynolds (.343, 15 SB, 27 RBI), the Blue Jay's leadoff hitter for the past three years, is a bonafide candidate for Conference Player of the Year. With five games in their first six against top 25 teams including No. 1 and 2, Johns Hopkins will know immediately what are their chances for a special season.

Haverford (28-14) earned the automatic bid for the Centennial Conference in 2016 and expects to defend their title with a competitive and experienced squad. Haverford will replace 2016 team captain Zack Taylor with freshman Will Karp out of New Jersey with the remainder of the lineup back in school. Ethan Lee-Tyson (.351, 5 HR, 22 RBI) and Matt Goss (.344, 4 HR, 28 RBI) will be part of the Ford's offensive juggernaut. On the mound, the ace duties will fall to Justin Herring (7-0, 1.58 ERA, 67K).

McDaniel (31-10), Gettysburg (24-17-1), and Washington College (26-12-1), and Muhlenberg (18-20) will be competing for the final two playoff spots. Muhlenburg is still evaluating the mix of returning and new players but will have Timmy Pilrun (4-1, 3.02 ERA, 64K) to dominate at the top of the rotation. McDaniel needed the talents of Marty Windisch, the lone CC player to earn All-America honors in 2016, to make the conference tournament last year. Windish finished his eligibility and McDaniel will rely on Eric Grantland (.348, 11 2B, 34 RBI) and Antonio Rosanova (.314, 14 SB, 27 RBI) to continue their success on the diamond.

Franklin and Marshall (16-20-1), Dickinson (20-18), Swarthmore (22-17-1), and Ursinus (16-2) round out the tail end of the 2016 standings. Franklin and Marshall will have plenty of pieces to the puzzle returning but it is the freshman class that will need to make an major impact to bring the Diplomats back to the Conference tournament. One of those pieces returning is David Iacobucci (.379, 4 HR, 23 RBI) who along with Maryland transfer Kengo Kawahara will have to carry the offensive load. Swarthmore will need restorations to their lineup to go along with those at Clothier Field if they are to jump a half dozen spots in the standings to make the conference tournament.

Immaculata senior, Jason McCormick has been named to three All-CSAC teams in three different positions (designated hitter, utility, and outfielder).
Immaculata athletics photo

Colonial States Athletic Conference: Keystone (40-11) will start the season ranked second in the country, the highest preseason standing in program history for the Giants. Coming off a 2016 season as the national runner-up at the D-III College World Series, the Giants are in position for their ninth-straight CSAC championship. Keystone head coach Jamie Shevchik's winning formula is to embrace the transferring player and will have an even mix of new talent with returning players. The Giants will need them as their top four batters and three top pitchers from 2016 are no longer on the roster. The top batters returning are Billy Nelson (.338, 13 2B, 21 RBI) and Robbie Nardelli (.307, 5 HR, 33 RBI) with Nelson (5-1, 3.28 ERA, 52K) also the top returner on the mound.

Immaculata (23-21) and Neumann (20-19) finished tied for second in the conference regular season with Immaculata finishing second in the conference tournament. Immaculata will be led by senior outfielder Jason McCormick (.348, 22 SB, 55 R, 21 RBI) and junior pitcher Trevor O'Brien (5-2, 3.28 ERA, 27K). Neumann will have first year head coach Dan BiBartolomeo shouldering the team responsibilities for the first time in his three years with the Knights. The Knights will have the core of their 2016 team back and in D-III baseball, experience gained leads to wins.

Gwynedd Mercy (19-21), Centenary (19-14), Cairn (19-16), and Marywood (10-23) all finished at the backend of the conference. The Griffins were the only team out of this group to make the end of the season tournament. Centenary's chances of moving up in the standings looked good as 2016 ended with CSAC Rookie of the Year, pitcher Trey Hinkle on the staff but Hinkle transferred to a program in the D-II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, putting Centenary's chances of moving up in the standings in jeopardy. Cabrini will open their inaugural season at home, hosting Penn State Brandywine. 

Zach Leone was a second team selection on the 2017 D3baseball.com Preseason All-American team.
Susquehanna athletics photo

Landmark Conference: Susquehanna (33-16) won 15 more games in 2016 than the previous year. This would be cause for celebration but just two years ago the Crusaders had a 30-win season. Susquehanna is searching for consistency in the play and the first step in a consistent winning program is find players that will play at a consistent high level. Susquehanna has one in 2017 D3baseball.com Preseason All-American Zach Leone (.444, 20 2B, 53 RBI). In addition to Leone, five other regulars return on offense with half the pitching staff. The best returning pitcher is not a starter but the Crusaders' closer, Liam Conboy (3-2, 9 SV, 1.67 ERA, 33K).  

Elizabethtown (25-20) and Moravian (22-21) both made the Landmark postseason and in a head-to-head series, it was Elizabethtown who moved on. Elizabethtown head coach Cliff Smith, with three wins will be the second winningest coach in program history with 229 wins. Moravian will see their strength on the mound where they will retain all their starters and have added depth to the bull pen. On offense the outfield is where the runs will come from as Anthony Gaetaniello (.370, 20 SB, 25 RBI), Mike Mittl (.323, 13 SB, 24 RBI), and Austin Markowski (.308, 6 HR, 21 RBI) all return. Gaetaniello will also be chasing his 200th hit, needing 55 in his final season.

Drew (18-23), Catholic (20-19), and Scranton (16-21) will have to settle for the final playoff berth if the big three pile up wins like they did in 2016. Scranton will rely on a junior class that includes Tommy Trotter (.370, 11 SB, 26 RBI) and Brad Schneider (.367, 31 R, 23 RBI) to anchor a lineup that is hoped to deliver a top four finish in the conference. As for the Royal's pitching, the key will be how the veteran pitchers perform and how soon the younger pitchers can step up to boost the staff.

Merchant Marine (11-24), and Juniata (9-30) finished 2016 at the bottom of the standings. Juniata will be rebuilding as nearly two thirds of the offense and pitching staff are no longer on the roster.

Alvernia first baseman Cameron Coons was named the MAC Commonwealth Player of the Year in 2016.
Alvenia athletics photo

Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference Commonwealth: The Alvernia Crusaders (27-15) and Widener Pride were selected as the favorites in the 2017 conference preseason poll as both received 45 points and four first-place votes. In 2016, Alvernia earned the top-seed in the MAC Commonwealth Championship, but the Crusaders went 0-2 to be the first team eliminated in the four team tournament. Alvernia will try to avoid another early exit in May and key to this task will be the reigning MAC Commonwealth Player of the Year, Cameron Coons (.414, 15 2B, 33 RBI) and the MAC Commonwealth Rookie of the Year, Nathan Sides (.353, 33 R, 24 RBI). On the mound, the ace will be John Catchmark (8-0, 319 ERA, 66K).
Widener (25-18-1) captured the 2016 MAC Commonwealth title, going undefeated in the tournament. The Pride bring back their entire starting lineup, nearly their entire pitching staff, seven who claimed all-conference honors. Josh Lafferty (8-2, 2.35 ERA, 52K) and Kyle McKelvy (8-2, 4.99 ERA, 58K) were equally effective on the mound. Helping score runs will be seniors Justin Healey (.376, 44 RBI) and Bob Barnett (.346, 24 SB, 41 R).

The trio of Arcadia (22-14-1), Messiah, and Stevenson (21-22) are expected to compete for two of the tournament seeds. Messiah (24-20) earned a spot in the 2016 MAC Commonwealth final four but saw Stephen Ridings, the conference Pitcher of the Year, get selected in the MLB amateur draft. The top of the remaining rotation won at a .500 clip and will need to make the next step to make the tournament in 2017.

Lebanon Valley (17-22), Hood, and Albright (5-30) are predicted to round out the bottom of the conference standings.  Hood (16-24), in just their third season will feature a team with no seniors and if they do not make the tournament in 2017, they will be well positioned to make the step in 2018. Josh Gall (.265, 10 2B, 27 RBI) went through a sophomore slump but if he returns to his stellar freshman campaign, look out for the Blazers.

Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference Freedom: The Misericordia Cougars (34-13) are expected to continue their dominance of the MAC Freedom as the favorite in the 2017 conference preseason poll. The Cougars, winners of six straight conference titles, received five of eight first-place votes. Misericordia saw their program's hits and wins leader both graduate but have plenty returning in 2017. Shortstop Kenny Jarema (.393, 23 RBI) will move back to his natural position as part of a strong defense. Starting pitcher Ryan Dorosh is gone but a rotation of four returning pitchers went 16-4 in 2016 and will continue to pile up wins in 2017.

Tommy DePaul is the all-time leader in steals at DeSales.
DeSales athletic photo

DeSales (27-15) received the other three first-place votes and a second preseason ranking, just where the Bulldogs finished in 2016 as runner-up in last season’s conference tournament. The best part of a deep Bulldog pitching staff is the backend with Tyler Cooperman (6-0, 5 Saves, 2.68 ERA, 36K). The offense stole 91 bases last year and will continue to swipe bags in 2017. DeSales top base thief, Tommy DePaul (.341, 16SB, 23 RBI) is back for his senior year.

Manhattanville (25-16) recruited 19 newcomers to compliment a strong core. The Valiant's top returner is third baseman Robbie Lynch (.370, 6 HR, 54 RBI). Lynch, the returning Conference Player of the Year, is one of the best hitters to put on the red and white. The top of the rotation will consist of Pat Badia (5-1, 4.01 ERA, 13K) and converted infielder Jorge Castro.

King's (23-15) or Wilkes (19-21) will miss the conference tournament if the preseason predictions are proven true. If lightning strikes, one of the bottom three in FDU-Florham (15-20-1), Eastern (16-21-3), and Delaware Valley (15-20) will displace both King's and Wilkes. Delaware Valley would be the biggest surprise if they can avoid more injuries. Pro prospect Kyle Wenger (.449, 9 SB, 18 RBI) missed half the 2016 season and will bring a spark to a team that has already seen two key players sitting out 2017 with injuries.

North Eastern Athletic Conference: Penn State-Abington (23-19) and Penn State-Berks (24-13) have been the class of the NEAC with Berks claiming the automatic pass into the NCAA playoffs each of the last three years. The future looked bright for Penn State Berks with 2016 NEAC Pitcher of the Year, Sean Pavlik, finishing his sophomore season but Pavlik transferred to the main campus to finish his major. His presence on the mound will be missed but the offense returns five of their six top batters led by Zach Reis (.380, 5 2B, 18 RBI) and Toby Welk (.364, 3 HR, 38 RBI). Penn State Abington returns all four All-NEAC players and are expected to be at the top of the standings when the conference tournament is played.

Justin Taylor was tabbed as a 2017 D3baseball.com Preseason All-American shortstop in January.
Lancaster Bible athletics photo

Lancaster Bible (21-16), and SUNY Poly (18-20) beat out Keuka for the final two spots in the NEAC tournament. Lancaster Bible is still a young team but with the talent to make the NEAC a three team race. Back for his senior season is 2016 NEAC Player of the Year, shortstop Justin Taylor (.461, 17 HR, 56 RBI). Taylor will be joined by sophomore outfielders Will Welsh (.415, 5 HR, 31 RBI) and Jensen King (.321, 3 HR, 25 RBI). Welsh. The Chargers will have to score runs in bunches as pitching is their weakness. Tyler Vyce (.333, 10 2B, 33 RBI) is SUNY-Poly's best returning player.

Keuka (17-15-1), and Penn College (13-23) missed qualifying for the end of the season playoffs and are hoping to earn a spot in 2017. Keuka has moved a step forward keeping a solid defense on the field and adding depth to their pitching and batting. It is the junior class that has the most talent with top hitter Dakota Skinner (.347, 1 HR 12 RBI) at the plate and Ryan Lawrence (2-1, 3.71 ERA, 13K) on the mound.

Gallaudet (9-30) and Cazenovia (5-26) finished in the NEAC cellar in 2016. Cazenovia returns three All-Conference players and Gallaudet just one. The Bison's lone NEAC All-Star is sophomore shortstop Cameron Upton (.345, 8 2B, 18 RBI). Joining Upton is Kyle Gumm (.310, 7 SB, 20 RBI) who has shown improvement every year and should be one of the leagues best outfielders. Pitching will be a question mark for Gallaudet at the start of the season as the freshmen mature. Wells joins the conference in the team’s inaugural season.

New Jersey Athletic Conference: Three teams in the NJAC are nationally ranked and have the talent to stay in the Top 25 all season long. No. 19 Kean (30-18) finished the NJAC regular season in the top spot but fell out of the conference tournament and had to rely on an at-large bid to the NCAA playoffs. Head coach Neil Ioviero saw his infield graduate and there will be a lot of new faces around the bases. Pitching will be the strength of the team with senior Richie Ferguson (8-4, 3.05 ERA, 53K) and sophomore Tyler Hopman (6-1, 3.62 ERA, 45K) getting starting nods.

Joe Cirello was tied for the led in wins with Steven Volpe with eight in 2016.
TCNJ athletics photo

No. 18 TCNJ (32-12) made great strides in 2016 with their first NCAA playoff bid since 2009. Just like Kean, TCNJ was not on the field when the Championship was won and settled for a competitive Pool C bid to the NCAA playoffs. Pitching is a strength of the NJAC teams but TCNJ has the best in righthander Brandon Zachary, the NJAC Co-Pitcher of the Year. Juniors Zachary (6-3, 3.65 ERA, 54K) and Joe Cirello (8-1, 2.68 ERA, 40K) will form a potent 1-2 punch on the mound for the Lions.

No. 11 Ramapo (35-12-1) finished first where it counted and did not have to wait for their name to be called on selection Sunday. The NJAC champs opened their regional play with two wins but two losses on the third day of the Regional ended their quest for a second straight World Series appearance. Graduation claimed their starting second baseman and catcher but nearly everyone else returns. Pitching is a strength as well and will need to be in mid season form with a tough schedule at the start of the season. One change from 2016 to keep an eye on is that Jerry D'Andrea (2-2, 10 saves, 2.57 ERA, 34K) moves from the bull pen to the starting ranks.

Rowan (24-18), like Ramapo, will need a new second baseman and catcher in the regular lineup as their All-NJAC fielders graduated. The Profs have a solid senior core on offense, led by Matt Jolly (.344, 3 HR, 25 RBI). The Rowan pitching staff will need to see some improvement to challenge the top three and help is on the way. A potential future MLB draft pick in Danny Serreino joins Rowan from Brookdale Community College.

Montclair State (23-20) made the best of their opportunities in 2016, nearly winning the conference tournament, falling to Ramapo 8-3 in the title contest. Rutgers-Camden (23-14) and William Paterson (21-20) along with Montclair State will fight for the final tournament berths and a shot at the automatic bid earned by the tournament winner. Rutgers-Newark (15-24), Stockton (10-23), and New Jersey City (15-23) finished at the end of the standings and will find it hard to break into the upper half of the standings in one of the toughest conferences in D-III.