January 23, 2008

SEASON PREVIEW: BRYANT OPENS PRACTICE, PREPARES FOR FEBRUARY 16th OPENER

January 23, 2008

BRYANT BASEBALL OPENS PRACTICE, PREPARES FOR FEBRUARY 16th SEASON OPENER

In preparation of the upcoming 2008 season, the Bryant University baseball team began practice for its spring schedule, Thursday, January 17. The Bulldogs open their season in Florida on February 16, but faceoff against a familiar opponent in Northeast-10 rival Bentley College. Gametime is 3:00 p.m.

Bryant Bulldog Baseball 2008 Season Preview

The Bryant University baseball team, finalists in both the Northeast-10 tournament and NCAA Northeast regional tournament in 2007, will look to challenge for the postseason again in 2008.   The Bulldogs begin the 2008 campaign with on February 16 with a doubleheader at Rollins College.  The first chance to see the '08 Bulldogs in Smithfield will be March 24, when they host Bentley College.  Here is a look at how the Bulldogs shape up as they begin winter practice. Pitching:

 

 JUNIOR RHP KEVIN COBB

Bryant returns all five starters from the '07 season, highlighted by senior All-American Eric Loh (Old Greenwich, CT).  Loh, the NCAA Northeast region Pitcher of the Year last season, is joined by a cast of experienced starters.  Juniors Kevin Cobb (Acton, MA) and Dan Lozeau (Pelham, NH), both All-Conference selections a season ago, return to the starting rotation.  Sophomore Brent Almeida (Fairhaven, MA) and senior Luke Cowan (Houston, TX) also return to give the Bulldogs an experienced and talented rotation.

Senior Adam Vuolo (Walpole, MA) returns in the closer role. Vuolo is Bryant's single season and career saves leader and has been an All-Conference selection each of the past two seasons.  Sophomore Eric Polvani (Wallingford, CT) was stellar in his set up role last season, appearing in 29 games and providing valuable late inning relief.

The depth of the Bulldogs pitching staff will be a key advantage this season, as there are many other pitchers who will compete for a variety of key roles.  Senior Ben Conn (Holden, MA) and juniors Chris Foundas (Needham, MA) and Brian Marseglia (Shelton, CT) give Bryant experienced right-handed options out of the bullpen. Sophomores Tom Baker (West Brookfield, MA) and Nick Laude (Wells, ME) will also compete for time out of the bullpen.

Several key newcomers will join the Bulldogs pitching staff this season with chances to make immediate impacts either as starters or out of the pen. Dan Walsh (Burlington, MA), Matt Griswold (Berlin, CT), John Michael Ryan (Worcester, MA), Sean McNiff (Andover, MA), Chris Costa (Lynnfield, MA), Scott Merritt (Norwalk, CT) and Mark Andrews (Hillsborough, NJ) all have the talent to see significant innings in their freshman seasons. Catching:

 

SOPHOMORE JEFF VIGURS

Jeff Vigurs (South Windsor, CT

), the conference Freshman of the Year last season, will return to see the bulk of the action behind the plate.  Vigurs provided outstanding defense last season, committing 0 errors and throwing out 49% of attempted base stealers.

Junior Jon Beauregard (New Bedford, MA) and freshmen Brendan Wheeler (Braintree, MA) and Greg Najarian (Rumford, RI) provide depth at catcher and have versatility to be used at other positions.  Third baseman Jason Alexander also saw time at catcher last season and could provide help there in '08.

Infield:

Infield defense will once again be priority for the Bulldogs, as they return three starters from last season.  Third baseman Jason Alexander (Simsbury, CT), an all conference selection last season, will return for his senior year.  Junior Pat McKenna (Orange, CT), an all conference selection and the team's leading hitter last season, will once again hold down the shortstop duties.  Junior second baseman Dave Muscatello (Hopkinton, MA) is also a holdover from last season's strong defensive unit.  All three provide veteran presence and a strong all-around ability for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs have several options to replace four year starter Mike Rocco at first base.  Freshman David O'Brien (Whitman, MA) and sophomore Dylan Stone (Portsmouth, RI) could see time at first base and at any other infield spot.  Senior Grant Tonelli (Greenwood, CA) and

 

SOPHOMORE OF
TAYLOR FERGUSON

freshmen Colin Dougherty (Lowell, MA) and Northeastern University transfer Tim Norton (Barnstable, MA) give the Bulldogs strong infield depth and could see action all over the field.Outfield:

 Bryant returns all three starters around the outfield, with Nick Campbell (Raynham, MA), TJ Magnell (Leominster, MA) and Taylor Ferguson (Charlton, MA) all returning for their sophomore seasons.  Campbell, an all conference selection last season, led the team in hits and RBIs, Ferguson led the team with 22 stolen bases, and Magnell set the program record with 37 walks.

Bryant has several other players who could break into the outfield mix or see time at designated hitter.  Senior Mark Dondero (Medfield, MA) was a key contributor down the stretch last season and junior Pat O'Connor (Mattapoisett, MA) joins the team after transferring from Wheaton College. Freshman Jordan English (Windsor Locks, CT) and the versatile Dylan Stone also provide the Bulldogs with excellent outfield depth.

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