Junior Jim Duff will take the ball tomorrow and attempt to lead Stonehill past the first round of the NE-10 Championship for the first time since 2010.
Skyhawks will take on the Ravens at 4 p.m. in first round action at Pappas Field
EASTON, Mass. (May 6, 2014) – Third-seeded Stonehill College, ranked seventh in the most recent NCAA Division II East Regional Rankings, will hit the road on Wednesday for first round action of the 2014 Northeast-10 Conference Championship at second-seeded Franklin Pierce University, ranked second in the East Region. Stonehill and Franklin Pierce will square off at 4 p.m. at Pappas Field in Rindge, New Hampshire.
Admission for tomorrow's first round contest is $6 for adults, $4 for children and senior citizens, and $1 for students with a valid NE-10 ID. Stonehill is making its return to the NE-10 Championship following last year's absence, while the Ravens are coming off a first round loss to Merrimack College in 2013. The Skyhawks have made the postseason tournament 13 times in head coach Pat Boen's 17-year tenure, including every year from 1998-2006 and three consecutive appearances from 2010-12.
Stonehill (28-18, 17-10 NE-10) enters tomorrow's action having gone 10-3 over its final 13 games of the regular season. The Skyhawks clinched a berth in the NE-10 Tournament on Friday with their 9-5 home win over Merrimack, before dropping Sunday's regular season finale at No. 20 Southern New Hampshire by a 5-3 score.
Franklin Pierce (35-15, 20-7 NE-10) has been hot over the last two weeks as well, as the Ravens have won ten of their last 11 contests. Franklin Pierce and Stonehill met three times this season, with the Ravens winning two of three at Pappas Field on March 28th-29th. The Skyhawks took the series opener, 5-1, before falling victim to a doubleheader sweep the next day.
On the mound for Stonehill tomorrow afternoon will be junior righthander Jim Duff (Garden City, New York/Garden City). In ten starts this season, Duff is 7-2 with a 1.82 ERA (7th in NE-10) to go with 59 strikeouts and just four walks. He has posted two complete games (1 shutout) and held opponents to a .219 batting average in 74.0 innings of work. Duff registered a complete game, four-hit, one-run effort with eight strikeouts in Stonehill's 5-1 win at Franklin Pierce on March 28th.
Sophomore Brian Campbell led Stonehill with a .302 average and 14 doubles in the regular season.
Stonehill, which currently owns the seventh lowest team ERA in all of Division II (2.50), also has a number of reliable arms in its bullpen. Junior Armand Rugel (Middletown, Rhode Island/Middletown) tied for the top spot in the NE-10 in the regular season with 12 saves, while also posting an ERA of 1.24 and recording 37 strikeouts in 36.1 frames. Classmate Steve Pike (Stoughton, Massachusetts/Catholic Memorial) has yet to give up an earned run in 14.2 innings of work this season.
Stonehill is led offensively by sophomores Brian Campbell (Franklin, Massachusetts/Mount Saint Charles) and Chris Hoyt (Walpole, Massachusetts/Xaverian Brothers), who are two of four Skyhawks to start all 46 games this season. Campbell is hitting a team-best .302 with 14 doubles (1st in NE-10), three triples, 17 walks, 22 RBI, and 32 runs, while Hoyt checks in at .297 with ten doubles, two triples, 12 RBI, and a team-high 34 runs scored. Both players are also effective on the basepaths, as Hoyt has swiped a team-best 23 bags (6th in NE-10), and Campbell has been successful on 12 steal attempts.
Junior infielder Christian Baglini (Milford, Connecticut/Notre Dame High) ranks third on the team with a .291 average to go with 14 walks, 18 runs, and 24 RBI. From April 6th to April 29th, Baglini posted a career-best 16-game hitting streak, a stretch in which he hit .414 (24-for-58) with two doubles, a triple, 11 runs, and 12 RBI.
Senior shortstop Dan Fratus (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth North) is hitting .287 with two homers, 20 RBI, 25 walks, and a team-high .399 on-base percentage, while junior catcher Eric Schneider (Camarillo, California/St. Bonaventure) leads all Skyhawks with 26 RBI. Senior outfielder Billy Karalis (Pawtucket, Rhode Island/Bishop Feehan) has been a key offensive piece as well, as he has recorded seven home runs (2nd in NE-10), eight doubles, 24 RBI, and 29 walks while stealing 17 bases and scoring 33 runs out of the leadoff spot.
Senior Billy Karalis has provided power (7 home runs, 24 RBI) out of the leadoff spot this season.
Franklin Pierce is led at the plate by junior catcher Matt Walsh (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth North) and senior outfielder Calvin Graves (Boston, Massachusetts/West Roxbury). Walsh ranks in the top-10 of the NE-10 in several categories, with 12 doubles (5th in NE-10) seven home runs (2nd), 40 RBI (1st) and a .487 slugging percentage (9th). Graves is hitting at a .328 clip with six doubles, two triples, and 18 RBI, while scoring 38 runs (6th in NE-10) and stealing 32 bases (3rd). Junior outfielder John Razzino (Cranston, Rhode Island/CC of Rhode Island) chips in with four doubles, two triples, four homers, 38 runs, and he was the second most prolific base stealer in the NE-10 this season, with 45.
Junior righthander Conor Gleason (North Stonington, Connecticut/CC of Rhode Island) will take the hill for the Ravens tomorrow with a 5-1 record and a 2.09 ERA. Gleason has recorded 83 strikeouts and issued 35 walks in 56.0 innings while holding opponents to a .120 batting average. He did not earn a decision in Franklin Pierce's 5-1 loss to Stonehill on March 28th despite tossing 6.1 scoreless innings of relief and striking out a season-high 13 batters while giving up just three hits.
Franklin Pierce has hosted the Skyhawks for first round action in each of Stonehill's last two appearances in the NE-10 Championship. The Ravens claimed a 3-2 victory in 2011, before shutting the Skyhawks out, 6-0, in 2012. Stonehill's last victory over Franklin Pierce in the NE-10 Championship came on May 9th, 2010, when the Skyhawks earned their third NE-10 title in program history with a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Ravens at Pappas Field.
The winner of tomorrow's contest will advance to this weekend's double elimination bracket hosted by the highest remaining seed from the Northeast Division, while the loser will be eliminated. The 2014 NCAA DII Championship selection show will take place at 10 p.m. this Sunday, May 11th, on NCAA.com.