February 22, 2011

Brown Baseball 2011 Season Preview

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Preseason Links

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In just 12 days, the collegiate baseball season will begin for Brown University as the Bears baseball team looks to improve off of last season's 10-10 Ivy League finish. Optimism is high as five All-Ivy performers return to pace an offense that was among the Ivy League's best last season. 

The Bears pitching staff will also receive a major boost with key performers returning from injury and several talented newcomers joining the roster.

Brown will challenge itself all year, starting the season against with seven games against top-10 teams, before traveling cross-country for six games in California.

Schedule:

Brown will kick off the 2011 season on March 4-6 with a three-game series against No. 3 Vanderbilt.  The following weekend, The Bears will travel to Austin, Texas for a four game set with the No. 6 Longhorns. 

"Once again we are lucky to take on some of the best teams, in some of the best ballparks, in all of college baseball," said head coach Marek Drabinski. "Our early season schedule is designed to make us better for league play and we expect that to happen.  The Ivy league looks to be very strong this year and we are going to need to be at our best each weekend."

Consecutive spring break series (March 26-30) in Northern California (at Santa Clara and San Jose State), will leave the Bears battle tested before they begin the Northern portion of the schedule.  The first home game at Murray Stadium is Tuesday, April 5 versus Quinnipiac. 

Other non-conference opponents for the Bears include, Siena, Marist, No. 14 Connecticut, Holy Cross, Rhode Island and Bryant.

Brown will travel to Ivy League foes Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth and Yale, and host conference rivals Columbia, Penn, Harvard and Yale.

THE TEAM

Pitching Staff:

Improved depth looks to be a key factor for the Bears pitching staff in 2011.  Several Brown pitchers return to the staff, as they look to bounce back from injury.

Two members of last season's weekend rotation return this year in senior Matthew Kimball (Nashville, Tenn.) and sophomore Kevin Carlow (Mystic, Conn.). Kimball, Brown's all time leader in saves, will have a full season in the rotation after making the transition from the bullpen midway through the 2010 season. Carlow led the staff in wins and ERA in his freshman campaign. 

Matt Kimball

Junior Mark Gormley (Milton, Mass.), an All-Ivy Selection in 2009 with a 6-2 record, looks to return to the rotation after missing much of the 2010 season due to injury. 

Senior Conor Burke (Andover, Mass.) also returns from an injury-shortened 2010 season and could pitch in the rotation or be a key bullpen member.  Fellow seniors Andrew Bakowski (Stamford, Conn.) and Josh Feit (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) will give the Bears two valuable late-inning options to close games. 

"We had a really good fall with our command and we expect that to be a key for us this spring.  Getting Gormley, Burke, and Feit back from injury to go along with Kimball, Bakowski, and Carlow should give us some veterans that have pitched well for us in the past," said Drabinski. "Also, adding some talented freshman should really improve our pitching staff and strengthen our bullpen this spring."

The Bears also had a number of underclassmen gain valuable experience in 2010.  Junior John Murphy (Silver Spring, Md.) and sophomores Heath Mayo (Whitehouse, Texas), Cooper Smith (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and Will Lacker (Brookline, Mass.) all look to further develop roles on the pitching staff this spring. 

Four rookie pitchers will all look to make an immediate impact on the Bears' staff this spring.  Freshmen Lucas Whitehill (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Anthony Galan (Watchung, N.J.), Chris Hubbard (Long Beach, Calif.) and Adam Hoffman (Lafayette, Calif.) will all aim to capture valuable innings in 2011.

Catcher:

Senior captain Matt Colantonio (Garden City, N.Y.) will return for his fourth season as a starter behind the plate for the Bears.  Colantonio (.346, 4 HR, 30 RBI) was a First Team All-Ivy selection last season and his production and leadership will once again be counted on in 20011.  Freshman Wes Van Boom (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) looks to be a very capable backup and he will see significant playing time during his first season.

"We feel really good about catcher heading into the spring.  Matt has had a fantastic career and we count on his play and leadership," noted Drabinski.  "We are also excited to get Wes some experience behind the plate and to use his bat in some other positions as well." 

 

 

Infield:

Multiple returnees highlight an infield that will be counted on to produce both offensively and defensively in 2011.  Seniors Ryan Zrenda (Old Lyme, Conn.) and Pete Greskoff (Paoli, Pa.) will return at third and first base, respectively.  Both Zrenda (.357, 11 HR, 30 RBI) and Greskoff (.294, 17 HR, 54 RBI) were All-Ivy performers last season and they make up a dangerous middle of the lineup for the Bears.  Greskoff needs only one homerun in 2011 to become the schools all time leader.

Peter Greskoff

Junior Mike DiBiase (Weston, Mass.) will also return as a run producer in 2011.  DiBiase (.326, 8 HR, 34 RBI) was an All-Ivy and All-New England Designated Hitter last season.

"Obviously this infield group has some real talented players.  We'll be counting on middle of the lineup hitters like Zrenda, Greskoff, and DiBiase to continue the production that they have shown in the past, " said Drabinski. 

Junior captain Graham Tyler (Cranston, R.I.) also returns to the lineup for his third season as the Bears' starting shortstop.  Tyler (.281, 4 HR, 23 RBI) provides a consistent offensive and defensive presence for the Bears.

Freshman J.J. Franco (New York, N.Y.) will look to step in at second base in his first season with the Bears.  Valuable infield depth will be provided by sophomore Cody Slaughter (Clearwater, Fla.) and freshman Nate Kukowski (Brentwood, Tenn.).

"We feel good about Tyler and Franco in the middle infield.," stated Drabinski. "Both Slaughter and Kukowski can contribute at multiple positions and they will be important for us this spring."

Outfield:

The outfield is headed by Feit (.361, 4 HR, 27 RBI) who was an All-Ivy selection in right fielder last season. The senior, who also pitches out of the bullpen, will anchor the unit, while looking to improve upon his 2010 numbers. 

Josh Feit '11

"With another year as a position player under his belt, we look for Feit to build on his strong 2010 season," remarked Drabinski. "Some of the younger players had really good fall seasons and individual workouts and we think they can step in and solidify our outfield this spring."

There will be some competition to join Feit in the Brown outfield in 2011. Junior Jon Suzich (Bethesda, Md.) and sophomore John Sheridan (Palo Alto, Calif.) will be joined by freshmen Daniel Massey (Greensboro, N.C.) and Matt DeRenzi (Mendham, N.J.) in the outfield mix.