PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND - This Friday, March 1st, the Brown baseball team will kick off its 2013 campaign with an 8:00 pm CST game at #4 LSU. The following day, the team will face Nicholls State at 3:00 pm CST before playing a second contest versus #4 LSU at 7:30 pm CST. The Bears will finish the weekend with a 12:00 pm CST game against Nicholls State on Sunday.
"We'll have three stern tests here early on with LSU and Nicholls," said head baseball coach Marek Drabinski. "It will help us to see where we are and hopefully allow us to get ready for Ivy League play."
Brown, under the guidance of 17th year head coach Drabinski, looks to improve on the 2012 season, during which they went 9-35 overall (6-14 Ivy League).
"I definitely think that this year we have a much brighter outlook on the season," said Drabinski. "We only lost two guys from last year's squad and we didn't lose any pitching, so we have everybody back. A lot of our guys also took a big leap over the summer, so there are two reasons why I think we are going to be a lot better. We have a lot more depth, so we pretty much have two guys at every position now which allows us to put a little bit of pressure on the starters. Secondly, I think we have more talent. Those two things combined lead to a much more optimistic start to the season."
The Bears welcome back almost all of their starting pitchers from last season. Senior Heath Mayo (Whitehouse, TX) returns after a stellar season in which he led the team with 10 starts in 11 appearances and was second with a 5.53 ERA. Seniors Kevin Carlow (Mystic, CT), who made 13 appearances and posted the third best ERA on the team, and Will Lacker (Brookline, MA), who competed in 11 games last season, will also provide experience on the pitching mound.
Sophomore pitcher Taylor Wright (Berwyn, PA) made a name for himself during his rookie season, leading the team with a 5.23 ERA over 18 appearances, most of which were made in relief. Junior Anthony Galan (Watchung, NJ) will return as a key member of the Bears' starting rotation, after starting nine games in 10 appearances last season and leading the team with 42 strikeouts. Junior Lucas Whitehill (Manhattan Beach, CA), who was especially effective in Ivy League play last season as he held opposing batters to a .200 batting average, will return to the mound as well. Sophomores Eddie Fitzpatrick (North Attleboro, MA), Chris Smith (Colleyville, TX) and Dave St. Lawrence (Thompson, CT) all gained many valuable innings and starts last season and will provide depth and talent to the pitching staff. Rounding out the group are freshmen pitchers Kevin Guthrie (Sarasota, FL), Trent Yee (Alameda, CA) and leftie Austin French (Orange, CT), all of whom will look to make a immediate impact this season.
Junior Wes Van Boom (Trabuco Canyon, CA) will return as starting catcher this season, after serving the role in all 44 games during his sophomore year. Van Boom, who posted a .275 batting average last season and led the team with 14 doubles and 5 home runs, will provide power at the plate as well. Sophomore catcher Nathan Mann (Winter Haven, FL), who made nine appearances during his rookie year and has experience as a pitcher as well, will provide valuable insight and back up.
Sophomore Nick Fornaca (San Diego, CA) made a significant impact as the team's third baseman in 2012, starting 40 games, leading the team with a .328 batting average, and posting a .934 fielding percentage. Senior Cody Slaughter (New Port Richey, FL) will return after competing in 37 games last season, all in the starting roll. He posted a .318 batting average, a .991 field percentage and led the team with a .496 slugging percentage. Junior J.J. Franco (New York, NY) started all 44 games of the 2012 campaign and was one of the team's most consistent hitters. He posted a .366 batting average, a .465 slugging percentage and a .432 on-base percentage, a performance that earned him Second-Team All-Ivy honors.
Sophomore Dan Kerr (Westfield, CT) also returns to the infield after appearing in 19 games and making seven starts during his freshman season. He scored four runs in 29 at-bats and achieved a 1.000 fielding percentage. Junior Nate Kukowski (Brentwood, TN) competed in eight games during the 2012 season, making three starts and two pitching appearances. He also achieved a .357 batting average over 14 at-bats, the highest on the team, scoring three runs and earning one RBI. Looking to make an impact in the infield during their rookie seasons are freshmen Tony Gandolfo (Saddle River, NJ), Tim McKeithan (Arden, NC), Jake Levine (Newton, MA) and Noah Shulman (Merrick, NY).
Sophomore Will Marcal (Lexington, MA) enters the 2013 season following a very successful rookie year in which he earned All-Ivy Honorable Mention accolades as well as two Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors He started in 43 of 44 games, either in the outfield or on the mound, and earning a .974 fielding percentage. Marcel also led the team with five home runs, 32 runs and 52 hits, while batting an average of .311. Senior John Sheridan (Palo Alto, CA) will return as a key member in the outfield after being named to the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District team during his junior year. Sheridan, who was recently named as a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, started 30 games, achieving a .315 batting average, a .432 slugging percentage and .350 on-base percentage. He was also a huge threat on the bases, as he stole 12 in 16 attempts, third most in the Ivy League.
Junior Matt DeRenzi (Mendham, NJ) made 39 appearances and 36 starts during his sophomore season, tallying 37 hits, 21 runs and 12 RBIs overall. In conference play, he posted a .310 batting average, a .397 on-base percentage and a 1.000 fielding percentage. Sophomore Sean Gannon (Sudbury, MA) looks to make his debut in the 2013 season, as he was unable to participate during his rookie year due to an injury, while classmate Ross Julian (Dunstable, MA) will look to continue his upward rise after leading the team with a .429 on-base percentage in 2012.
Junior Daniel Massey (Greensboro, NC) will return to the outfield after making 25 appearances and 17 starts during his sophomore season, tallying 20 hits, four doubles, eight runs and 13 RBIs in 71 at-bats. In Ivy League play, Massey achieved a .340 batting average and a .426 slugging percentage. Finally, freshman Cam Wilkie (Mississauga, Ontario) rounds out the outfield staff and will look make a key contribution to the Bears' 2013 season.
After its opening weekend, the team will travel to Alabama on March 8th for a three-day series against Auburn before heading to Washington to play four games against Washington State from March 23rd-25th, followed by a doubleheader against Gonzaga on March 26th. The team will begin Ivy League play with a doubleheader at Cornell on March 30th.
"We're excited," said Drabinski. "I think we really have the ability to compete for an Ivy title, and that is our goal."