March 28, 2008
Providence, RI - Battle-tested from playing seven games in six days, but rested after an off day on Friday, the Brown baseball team (6-8) will open its Ivy League season on Saturday at Columbia (4-14), then close its trip with a rematch of last season's Ivy League Championship Series with a doubleheader at Penn (6-7).
As of Saturday, the Bears will have trekked about 1,675 miles by bus on their trip, going south to North Carolina and playing their way up through Virginia to the Bronx. On the trip, the Bears are 3-4, defeating Hartford, 25-9, and Richmond, 16-7; falling to Campbell, 5-2, Duke, 7-6 in 10 innings, and George Mason, 6-5; and splitting a doubleheader with UNC Asheville, dropping the lid-lifter, 9-3, before taking the nightcap, 13-12.
Entering the weekend, freshman catcher Matt Colantonio (Garden City, NY) is the Bears' top hitter, leading the team with a .478 batting average and .547 on-base percentage. He was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Tuesday, and has been red-hot on the team's current road trip, hitting .577 (15-for-26) with seven RBIs and six runs scored. Senior J.J. Eno (Kahului, HI), all of 5-8, has been the team's top power hitter with a .542 slugging percentage on the season. He is hitting .423 (11-for-26) on the trip with two doubles, a triple, and a home run for a .692 slugging percentage.
Atop the order, junior center fielder Steve Daniels (Fox Point, WI) has rediscovered his hitting stroke on the trip. After hitting just .241 (7-for-29), scoring three runs, driving in one, and stealing one base in the Bears' first seven games, he has turned things around, hitting .417 (15-for-36), scoring 11 runs, driving in four, and stealing nine bases in his last seven. In fact, the whole team has picked up its hitting; eight Brown starters are hitting above .300 on the trip, while just three did in the team's first seven games.
On the mound, Head Coach Marek Drabinski and his staff have used the trip to sort out the team's conference rotation. Sophomore Will Weidig (Katy, TX) and senior Alex Silverman (Wilmington, NC) will start the first game of each doubleheader this weekend, hoping to go the distance in each of the seven inning games and save the Brown bullpen for the second, nine-inning game each day. Weidig has a team-high 19.1 innings pitched. He is 1-2 with a 5.21 ERA in his three starts, also making a one-batter appearance on Wednesday, coming out of the bullpen to get a key out in Brown's win over Richmond. Silverman has also made three starts, going 2-0 with a 7.00 ERA. He leads the Bears with 19 strikeouts, one more than Weidig.
The Bears' other two starters this weekend will be freshman Josh Feit (Woodcliff Hills, NJ) and senior Anthony Vita (West Babylon, NY). Feit will get the call in game two against Columbia. In 11.1 innings over three appearances, two of them starts, Feit is 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA. Vita has seemingly come out of nowhere to be Brown's most effective pitcher so far, and will start the second game against Penn. In two seasons with the team, he had pitched just 9.1 innings over 10 appearances due to injury. This year, in six appearances, he has already thrown 12.1, going 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA, also earning one hold.
Columbia had a rough start to its season, getting swept in consecutive four-game sets at Duke and then-#24 Pepperdine. The Lions then split four-game series with Georgia Southern and Liberty around a 3-2 loss to Davidson. This week, #25 St. John's handed Columbia a 10-5 loss in Queens on Tuesday.
This weekend's games will be the first at home for the Lions, who finished third in the Gehrig Division last year at 10-10. Sophomore left fielder Jason Banos leads the Lions at the plate with a .333 average and 12 RBIs. He has eight doubles and two home runs in 78 at-bats on the season. Right behind him are senior second baseman/pitcher Henry Perkins and freshman center fielder Nick Cox, with .329 and .323 averages, respectively. All three have speed, as Cox, the leadoff hitter, has seven steals, with Banos and Perkins, the numbers two and three hitters, swiping five bags each. 2007 Honorable Mention All-Ivy first baseman Ron Williams is the fourth Lion hitting over .300, with a .314 average.
On the mound, freshman Geoff Whitaker and junior Joe Scarlata will start on Saturday. Whitaker has team highs with 16 strikeouts in 22.1 innings, posting a 2-2 record in four starts. He was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on March 19 after going six innings to pick up his first career win over Georgia Southern. Scarlata is 0-4 with a 12.32 ERA in four starts. Sophomore Clay Bartlett, an Honorable Mention All-Ivy reliever last season, leads the team in appearances with eight, notching one save.
The defending Gehrig Division Champions with a 12-8 Ivy mark last season, the Quakers are 6-7 this year. However, they have played the third-easiest schedule of the 297 Division 1 teams, playing opponents with a combined winning percentage of .262 (50-141), which is the second-lowest such number in the nation. After opening with a 2-1 loss at home to West Chester on Feb. 29, Penn played seven games in Boca Raton, Fla., going 1-4 in the first five before winning its final two games against Domincan, 7-1, and NJIT, 12-1. The Quakers then took three of four from Mount St. Mary's last weekend, and lost the opening round of the Liberty Bell Classic to defending Patriot League Champion Lafayette on Tuesday, 6-5.
Sophomore second baseman Steve Gable leads Penn with a .449 average, .509 on-base percentage, and 16 RBIs. Freshman Mike Mariano has been the best hitter in a rotation at catcher for the Quakers, hitting .435 in nine games, starting five. 2007 All-Ivy Honorable Mention first baseman Kyle Armeny has a team high with four home runs, hitting .327.
On the mound, 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Todd Roth is back in form, going 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in five starts. He has allowed just 17 hits in 26.0 innings, striking out 27. However, he has been the only constant starter, as four other pitchers have two starts, and all of them have made either two or three relief appearances, none coming within 11 innings of Roth's total. In the bullpen, sophomore Reid Terry has pitched in nine of Penn's 13 games, going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA and one save.