2014 UMass Dartmouth Baseball Preview

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. — The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth baseball team is looking to build off its momentum from the 2013 campaign, where the Corsairs advanced to the Little East Conference Championship Game. UMass Dartmouth will return seven starters and a total of 20 players back into the fold from last spring.

PRESEASON COACHES' SURVEY:
According to the 2014 Little East Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll, UMass Dartmouth is projected to finish fourth in the eight-team field. The Corsairs received 39 total points to earn the program's highest ranking in the past nine seasons. The University of Southern Maine, the two-time defending conference regular-season champions, was the unanimous choice followed Eastern Connecticut State University (53) and the University of Massachusetts Boston (43). UMass Dartmouth edged Keene State College (38) by a single vote for the fourth position in the annual coaches' survey.

A LOOK BACK AT 2013:
Under the direction of Bob Prince, the Corsairs registered the highest amount of victories since 2010 with an overall record of 18-23. UMass Dartmouth exceeded the expectation of the Little East coaches by posting a 6-8 mark inside the conference circuit to earn the fifth seed in the 2013 Little East Baseball Championship tournament. The Corsairs were edged by second-seeded Eastern Connecticut in the opener, but defeated sixth-seeded Western Connecticut State University and fourth-seeded UMass Boston in consecutive days to advance to the consolation finals. Prince and his charges avenged their earlier loss to the Warriors with a 7-6 victory to make the program's first appearance in the conference championship since 2003. A single by Connor Shaw capped a two-run, fifth inning to give the visitors a 2-1 lead, but top-seeded and host Southern Maine rallied with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame and tacked on an insurance marker in the sixth to earn a 4-2 win and the automatic berth into the 2013 NCAA Division III tournament.

Here is a position by position preview of the 2014 UMass Dartmouth baseball team:

PITCHING STAFF:
Junior Nick Fuller (New Bedford, Mass.) is returning as the ace of the Corsairs staff after a sensational summer season in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. In nine starts, the All-FCBL All-Star posted a 5-1 record with a 2.17 earned run average and a 1.03 WHIP in 49 and two thirds innings of work for the Torrington Titans.

Joining Fuller at the top of the rotation will be senior Karney Boff (North Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth), sophomore Matt Russell (Townsend, Mass./North Middlesex), and classmate Steve Colella (Leominster, Mass.). Boff and Russell consistently throw three pitches for strikes, while Colella provides UMass Dartmouth with a power arm.

The remainder of the rotation will likely be completed by sophomore Aaron Chouinard (Swansea, Mass./Joseph Case), classmate George Bent (Barnstable, Mass.), and freshman Shawn Callahan (Colchester, Vt.). Chouinard is looking to build off his rookie campaign, where he was 3-1 with a 5.40 earned run average in 40 innings of work.

The sophomore trio of Richie Budion (Brewster, Mass./Cape Cod Tech.), Brett Handell (Westboro, Mass.), and Josh Tombs (Kingstown, R.I./South Kingstown) in addition to freshman Kyle Garvey (Wareham, Mass./Sturgis Charter) afford Prince with talented options in the middle innings.

The Corsairs will count on freshman Jake Silva (Seekonk, Mass.), junior Ethan Kelley (New Bedford, Mass./Massasoit), sophomore Brian Clark (Newfields, N.H./Exeter), and freshman Teddy Savage (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South) to bridge the gap in the late innings to the closer.

Junior Ben Monteiro (Swansea, Mass.) will anchor the backend of the bullpen, serving in the closer's role. The transfer from Massasoit will utilize his electric fastball to close out contests for the local nine.

INFIELD:
UMass Dartmouth will return nearly its entire starting infield from 2013. Junior ALEX NEWTON (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) and sophomore CONNOR SHAW (Goffstown, N.H.) are expected be positioned on the right-side of the diamond, while junior NATE FARIAS (Fall River, Mass./Durfee) and classmate GEORGE AGOSTINI (Dighton, Mass./Marist) will complete the left-side.

Junior ALBERTO VAZQUEZ (Roxbury, Mass./O'Bryant) and Newton will rotate between first base and designated hitter to provide the Corsairs with a pair of power bats in the middle of their order.

Behind the plate, junior CORY DEMEDEIROS (Fall River, Mass./Durfee) is expected the fill the void left by the graduation of MATT WORDEN '13. DeMedeiros has showcased great leadership and energy, in addition to an understanding of how to handle the pitching staff. Sophomore MARIANO SURIEL (Brookline, Mass.) is an athletic backup that swings the bat well.

Sophomores TAYLOR CACCIOLIA (West Greenwich, R.I./ Exeter West Greenwich Regional) and classmate REECE TANGUAY (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) along with freshman TUCKER BOUCHARD (Kingston, Mass./Silver Lake) provide depth in the middle of the diamond.

OUTFIELD:
Junior RYAN MEDEIROS (Achushnet, Mass./New Bedford) is the lone returner in the outfield. Medeiros is a dynamic player that performs all aspects of the game at a high level. In 2013, he led the Corsairs in doubles (14), while ranking second in home runs (4), fourth in batting average (.309), and fifth in runs batted in (22).

Joining Medeiros in the UMass Dartmouth starting outfield will be junior TYLER ANDRADE (New Bedford, Mass./Massasoit) and MONTEIRO.

Senior WAYNE BOLZ (Billerica, Mass./Billerica), junior JIMMY CRANSTON (East Lyme, Conn./East Lyme), and sophomores BRIAN CLARK (Newfields, N.H./Exeter) and JOE ZOTTOLI (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Regional) provide Prince with flexibility and depth in the outfield.

2014 SCHEDULE:
UMass Dartmouth will open its 2014 season at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 14, when the Corsairs face Saint Joseph's (Maine) in the Winter Haven, Fla. UMass Dartmouth will play an 11-game schedule in the 2014 Russmatt Baseball Central Florida Invitational before returning North for its home opener against Johnson & Wales (R.I.) on March 26. The Corsairs will begin their 14-game Little East Conference circuit three days later when UMD hosts Plymouth State University.

TRACKING THE CORSAIRS:
The UMass Dartmouth athletics department will provide real-time statistics for each of the Corsairs' home games during the 2014 season. For the latest news, follow UMass Dartmouth via social media on Twitter (@UmassDAthletics and @UMD_Baseball).