WALTHAM, Mass. – After tying for third in the Northeast Division and finishing the regular season with a 28-13 record against NCAA Division II East Region teams, the Bentley University baseball team will open the Northeast-10 Conference playoffs Tuesday with a 2 pm game at Saint Anselm College, the top seed out of the Northeast Division.
The other first round games have Le Moyne hosting Southern Connecticut, Pace at home against New Haven and Stonehill playing at Franklin Pierce.
The winners of Tuesday's games will advance to the double-elimination portion of the tournament, which is scheduled to begin Thursday, weather permitting. Those contests will be played at the top remaining seed out of the Northeast Division, which would either be Saint Anselm if it wins or the advancing team from the Stonehill-Franklin Pierce game, if Bentley prevails.
Bentley (28-22 overall, 20-9 NE-10) and Saint Anselm (26-21-2, 18-10-1 NE-10) have already met five times this spring with four of the five low-scoring pitchers' duels. The two teams split a pair in Florida in early March and the Hawks took two of three during an early April series at Bentley's Defelice Field.
Probable pitchers for Tuesday's game are junior righty JP Ashline (Clinton/Acton-Boxborough Reg. HS) for the Falcons and senior lefty John Healy for the Hawks.
Ashline, whose last start was last Tuesday at Merrimack, hasn't faced the Hawks this season, but is 1-1 with a save in his career against Saint Anselm. This season, he's 6-2, with a three-game winning streak, and a 4.50 ERA and a .262 opponents' batting average.
Healy, whose last appearance was Apr. 29 (7 innings in an 11-1 win against Stonehill), is 7-1 this spring with a 1.16 ERA, a .191 opponents average and 84 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the Falcons back on Mar. 3.
Bentley, number five in the most recent NCAA Division II East Region rankings, will make the trip to New Hampshire with four .300 hitters in the lineup and a fifth who is just a point below that plateau. Over the last 20 games, six of the nine everyday players are batting at least .300 and four are averaging at least a run a game.
Sophomore shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) tops the batting stats for Bentley with his average at .351 and his on base a team-best .393. Sophomore left fielder and leadoff man Sean Keady (Norwood/Norwood HS), the team's hottest hitter of late (.455 over the last ten games) and junior second baseman Logan Gillis (Merrimack, N.H./Lawrence Academy), the team-leader in RBI, follow at .318.
Seniors Kevin Korwek (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand HS) and Greg Baggett (East Bridgewater/ East Bridgewater HS), who have shared the catching and DH duties this spring, are at .309 and .299, respectively. They've combined for 63 RBI, with Baggett leading the club in homers (8), triples (5), total bases (91) and slugging (.580).
Saint Anselm's offense features first baseman/pitcher Robert Kelly, who is batting .310 with 10 homers, 48 RBI, 44 runs scored and a conference-high 43 walks. He also helps on the mound with a 2-3 record and a 3.16 ERA.
2012 Northeast-10 Baseball Championship Seeds
#1 Saint Anselm
#2 Franklin Pierce
#2 Le Moyne
#3 Southern Connecticut
#4 New Haven
2012 Northeast-10 Baseball Championship Schedule
Tuesday, May 8 – First Round Single Elimination
Game 1: #4 SW New Haven at #1 SW Pace – 2:00 p.m.
Game 2: #3 SW So. Connecticut at #2 SW Le Moyne – 2:00 p.m.
Game 3: #4 NE Bentley at #1 NE Saint Anselm – 2:00 p.m.
Game 4: #3 NE Stonehill at #2 NE Franklin Pierce – 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 10 – Saturday, May 12
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Game 6: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner
Game 7: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 loser
Game 10: Game 9 winner vs. Game 8 winner
Game 11: If Necessary