BRYANT BASEBALL WRAPS UP DIVISION II COMPETITION WITH WINNINGEST SEASON IN PROGRAM HISTORY; PREPARES TO TAKE WINNING WAYS INTO DIVISION I

May 29, 2008

BRYANT BASEBALL WRAPS UP DIVISION II COMPETITION WITH WINNINGEST SEASON IN PROGRAM HISTORY

Bulldogs boast 43 wins to accompany five all-region selections, 10 all-conference selections and a return trip to the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship Game

Season Stats

Jason Alexander (above) and
Nick Campbell (below) led the
2008 Bulldogs to the most
successful season in program
history, finishing 43-21
overall and 25-5 in conference
to claim the Northeast-10
regular-season title. Both were
named First Team All-Region.

SMITHFIELD, RI -- They led the league in 30 team and individual categories, not the least of which includes wins -- both in-conference and out. As individuals, they set 15 new program records and ranked at the top of the nation in a multitude of statistical categories. As a team, they did the same.

And on May 19, 2008, the Bryant University baseball team saw the end of an era, wrapping up 40 years of competition in the Division II ranks right where they belonged - in the NCAA Tournament.

And despite a loss in the Northeast Regional Final, the Bulldogs are coming off arguably the most successful campaign in program history as they head into a new age of Bryant baseball -- in college baseball's version of The Show.

The transition up to Division I will not be easy.

But looking back on all the accomplishments and successes of the 2008 Bulldog baseball team, maybe it won't be as hard as one might think.

The 2008 season saw Bryant win a program-record 43 games while capturing its first outright Northeast-10 Conference regular-season title since 1998 with a league mark of 25-5.

Bryant hitters ranked among the best in the league and the country (more on that later), while Bulldog pitching fell in the nation's top-15 in five of eight statistical categories.

The Bulldogs took victories over a trio of top-10 Division II teams (then-No. 1 Mount Olive, then-No. 6 West Chester and then-No. 9 Franklin Pierce), while going 1-2 against Division I competition. (The win? A 7-4 topping of 2007 Ivy League Champs Brown University.)

But there are questions.

The 2008 Bulldogs were led by a group of the most well-rounded, talented and dependable seniors to ever grace the not just the Bryant Baseball Complex, but the halls of the University itself. Who will replace them entering this pivotal period in Bryant baseball history?

There are also answers.

This year's team boasted a junior class poised to slip nicely into those shoes. And they'll need to fill them quickly as Bryant University athletics embarks into the purgatory that is the NCAA in-between -- a four-year transition period that prevents the Bulldogs from postseason action until the 2013 season.

More solutions reside in the Class of 2010 -- the prolific spattering of sophomores who could hardly have given a better year in 2008. Headlined by First Team All-Region centerfielder Nick Campbell (Raynham, Mass.), these sophomores become upperclassmen with the knowledge and experience that will help them flourish on the diamond - and just wait until they get aluminum bats in their hands.

And then there are the freshmen. Some started. Others filled holes when needed. Even more simply waited, biding their time to move into the spotlight. And with latecomers such as Jordan English (Windsor Locks, Conn.) joining the arms of now-familiar names such as David O'Brien (Whitman, Mass.) and Mark Andrews (Hillsborough, NJ), that time will be soon.

Answers to all the questions line the dugout, taking the shapes of players big and small, young and old. Some are obvious, some surprises, but all are there.

In 2008, Bryant University baseball has proven to be a success. Moreover, it has proven that it is time to move on to a new challenge. But that doesn't mean the 2008 Bulldogs haven't left their mark on Division II.

BY THE NUMBERS

In their final season at Division II, Bryant went far from unnoticed. Climbing the ladder of the national rankings as a team as well as individuals, the 2008 Bulldogs carved out their own piece of baseball history. And here it is.

In 2008, the Bryant University baseball team:

  • Achieved a season-high No. 12 ranking from the NCBWA
  • Achieved a season-high No. 23 ranking from Collegiate Baseball America
  • Recorded a program-record 43 wins
  • Recorded a program-best 25 conference victories
  • Registered a nine-game winning streak (tied for fifth-longest in program history)
  • Recorded the most hits in a season all-time (656)
  • Recorded the third-most runs (395) and RBI (342) in a season with the sixth-best team batting average (.296)
  • Threw for the fifth-best all-time team ERA (3.75)
  • Recorded the second-most strikeouts in a season (344)

As a team, Bryant was ranked in the nation's top-100 in 19 of 25 statistical categories, including, but not limited to: runs scored (94th), hits (52nd), doubles (58th), stolen bases (47th) and Win-Loss percentage (34th). But some of the Bulldogs' numbers ranked even higher.

 

Freshman David O'Brien
posted a 6-1 record
in 2008.

In seven categories, Bryant was ranked in the top-15: No. 15 in double plays per game; No. 11 for team earned run average; No. 10 for hits allowed per nine innings; No. 8 in double plays; No. 7 in fielding percentage; No. 2 in sacrifice bunts; and No. 1 in walks allowed per nine innings.

Six individual players were ranked in the nation's top-20 of various statistical categories spanning all of Division II:

  • David O'Brien ranked No. 1 in hits allowed per nine innings (5.29) and No. 20 in ERA (2.04)
  • Dan Lozeau (Pelham, NH) ranked No. 2 in walks allowed per nine (0.52)
  • Eric Polvani (Wallingford, Conn.) ranked No. 7 in saves (13)
  • Dylan Stone (Portsmouth, RI) ranked No. 13 in sacrifice bunts (13)
  • Eric Loh (Old Greenwich, Conn.) ranked No. 15 in wins (10) and No. 19 in hits allowed per nine (6.45)
  • Nick Campbell was ranked the No. 20 hardest batter to strike out (20.3).

Read on to find season and career highlights of some of Bryant's most dynamic players in 2008.

Record Setters

Jason Alexander - 3B
A captain as both a junior and a senior, Jason Alexander (Simsbury, Conn.) was truly a leader on and off the field. A solid defensive third baseman, Alexander made some noise with his bat over his four-year career as well. But no season was as successful as his final one. Batting .313 on the year, Alexander was one of three Bulldogs to start in all 64 games, leading the team in on-base percentage (.430) and total plate appearances (312), while finishing second in batting average (.313) and hits (78).

In his four years as a Bulldog, Alexander set a number of Bryant records:

Bryant season records set in 2008

  • Ranks third in at-bats (249)
  • Ranks first (tied) in games played and games started (64)
  • Ranks seventh in hits (78)
  • Ranks fifth (tied) in runs scored (57)

Career records

  • Ranks first all-time in games played (210)
  • Ranks first all-time in games started (208)
  • Ranks second all-time in career at-bats (772)
  • Ranks third all-time in career walks (73)
  • Ranks fifth all-time in career hits (206)
  • Ranks fifth all-time in runs scored (137);

Those records only add to his many career milestones:

  • Named to Northeast-10 First Team as a senior (2008)
  • Named to All-Region First Team as a senior (2008)
  • Named to Rawlings Second Team as a senior (2008)
  • Registered his 200th career hit on May 15, 2008 in a 3-for-5 day against Dowling College in the NCAA Northeast Regional
  • Led the league in total plate appearances (312) in 2008
  • As a senior, ranked in the top-100 in the nation in: walks (79th), hit by pitch/game (63rd); hit by pitch (34th); sacrifice bunts (37th) and sacrifice bunts/game (49th) - (2008)
  • Named to Northeast-10 Third Team as a junior (2007)

Eric Loh - SP (RHP)
The undisputable ace of the Bryant pitching staff as a junior and senior, Eric Loh finishes his four-year career with the second-most wins in program history (25). As a senior, he posted a 10-3 record and a 2.65 ERA in a team-high102 innings pitched. Loh's 10 wins not only paced the Bulldog staff but ranked No. 15 in all of Division II, while his 14 game starts and 67 strikeouts were also team bests. The righty was called on and came through in big situations, and his numbers speak for themselves:

Bryant season records set in 2008

  • Ranks second in wins (10)
  • Ranks first in innings pitched (102)
  • Ranks fifth (tied) in strikeouts (67)

Career records

  • Ranks first all-time in career innings pitched (345)
  • Ranks second all-time in career wins (25)
  • Ranks second all-time in complete games (11)
  • Ranks third all-time in career ERA (2.87)
  • Ranks third all-time in strikeouts (205)

His plethora of postseason honors also speaks to his prowess on the mound, as do his nationally ranked statistics in 2008.

  • Named to Northeast-10 Conference First Team as a junior and senior (2007 and 2008)
  • Named to All-Region First Team as a junior (2007)
  • Named to All-Region Second Team as a senior (2008)
  • Named to Rawlings First Team as a senior (2008)
  • Named Northeast-10 Pitcher of the Year as a junior (2007)
  • Named Northeast Region Pitcher of the Year as a junior (2007)
  • Named to All-American Third Team as a junior (2007)
  • As a senior, ranked in the nation's top-100 in: ERA (28th); wins (15th) and hits allowed per nine (19th)

Nick Campbell - CF
Put a bat in the hands of centerfielder Nick Campbell and watch the flames ignite. As a sophomore in 2008, Campbell, simply put, was lights out at the plate, leading the Bulldogs in batting average (.358), at-bats (271), hits (97), steal attempts (27) and stolen bases (18). The All-Conference and All-Region First Teamer led the NE-10 in hits and at-bats, and is well on his way to setting a number of Bryant program marks. Campbell is also poised to get his 200th career hit as just a junior, finishing his sophomore season with 173 hits as a Bulldog.

Season records set in 2008

  • Ranks first in at-bats in a season (271)
  • Ranks first (tied) in games played and games started (64)
  • Ranks second in hits (97)
  • o Note: Jeff Renga recorded 99 hits in the 2002 season - Bryant's final season using aluminum bats
  • Ranks fifth (tied) in runs scored (57)

Postseason Accolades/National Rankings

  • Named to Northeast-10 First Team as a sophomore (2008)
  • Named to All-Region First Team as a sophomore (2008)
  • Named to Rawlings First Team as a sophomore (2008)
  • Named to Northeast-10 Third Team as a freshman (2007)
  • As a sophomore, was ranked 40th in hits and was the 20th hardest batter to strikeout

Pat O'Connor - LF
The junior Division III transfer certainly left a mark on the Bryant program in just his first year in Smithfield, leading the Bulldogs in runs scored (61), doubles (20), total bases (126), slugging percentage (.558), walks (42), sac flies (5), RBIs (50) and home runs (11). In 2008, the Northeast-10 Conference and All-Region Second Teamer led the league in doubles and home runs.

And as Bryant moves into Division I play, Pat O'Connor (Mattapoisett, Mass.) keeps fans and coaches alike waiting to see what the next swing will hold.

Season Records set in 2008

  • Ranks first (tied) in games played in a season (64)
  • Ranks first in walks in a single season (42)
  • Ranks fourth in doubles (20)
  • Ranks third in runs scored (61)

National Rankings

  • As a junior, O'Connor ranked in the nation's top-100 in: doubles (40th); doubles/game (93rd);walks (61st) and walks/game (63rd)

Eric Polvani - RP (RHP)
Polvani took over the closer role in his sophomore season, charging to a number of accolades and records. And with two more years left to play, the All-Confernce and All-Region Second Team selection is poised to break a number of career records. Already, the sophomore is No. 2 in both career appearances (57) and career saves (15)

Season Records set in 2008

  • Set new single-season saves record (13)
  • Ranks tied for third in appearances (28)

League leader in:

  • Saves (13)
  • Appearances (28)
  • Games finished (20)
  • Games in relief (28)

National Rankings

  • Ranks No. 7 in Division II in saves

Dylan Stone - 1B
Dylan Stone had big shoes to fill in 2008 with the graduation of all-star first baseman Mike Rocco ('04). But the sophomore did just that. Stone led the league in putouts (537), fielding double plays (49) and sacrifice bunts (20), committing just three errors in 64 games.

Season Records set in 2008

  • Ranks first (tied) in games played in a season (64)
  • Ranks second in putouts in a single season (537)

National Rankings

  • As a sophomore, ranked in the nation's top-100 in: sacrifice bunts (13th); sacrifice bunts/game (29th) and toughest to strike out (68th)

Other Record Setters and League Leaders

Pat McKenna - two-year captain - SS
Season Records set in 2008

  • Ranks first in assists in a single season (232)
    • Note: This year's 232 assists bested his own previous single-season record by one, a 231-mark set in 2007, and also led the Northeast-10 Conference
  • Ranks first (tied) in games played in a season (64)
  • Ranks second in walks in a single season (37)

Career records

  • With one more year of eligibility remaining, Pat McKenna (Orange, Conn.) already owns the top sport for all-time assists (626) and is No. 3 in career triples (12).

National Rankings

  • As a junior tri-captain, ranked in the nation's top-100 in: triples (86th); walks (49th) and walks/game (60th)

Dave Muscatello - 2B
Season Records set in 2008

  • Ranks first (tied) in games played in a season (64)

National Rankings

  • As a senior, Dave Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) ranks in the nation's top-100 in: sacrifice bunts (24th); sacrifice bunts/game (43rd); hit by pitch (56th) and hit by pitch/game (100th)

Mark Andrews - RP (LHP)
Team leader in:

  • ERA (1.89)
  • Runs allowed (10)
  • Earned runs allowed (7)
  • Appearances (28)

League leader in:

  • Appearances (28)
  • Games in relief (28)

Season Records set in 2008

  • As a freshman and Bryant's only lefty, Andrews is ranked fifth in earned run average in a season (1.89)
  • Ranked tied for third in appearances (28)

David O'Brien - SP (RHP)
O'Brien led the NE-10 in doubles allowed (3), while also pacing the Bulldog staff in opponents' batting average (.184). As just a freshman, O'Brien posted a 6-1 record with a 2.27 ERA while leading the nation in hits allowed per nine innings (5.29). He is also ranked 20th in ERA.

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