WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior right-handed Luke Dawson (Stamford, Conn./Westhill HS) is expected to be on the mound when Bob DeFelice's 51st season as Bentley University baseball coach gets underway Friday at 6 pm at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
The first of four trips to the Sunshine State for the Falcons also includes games at Lynn University Saturday (1 pm) and at Barry University (12 noon). Links for live video and live stats for all three contests will be posted at www.bentleyfalcons.com/sports.bsb/2018-19/schedule.
DeFelice's time with the Falcons dates back to inception of the Bentley baseball program in 1969. He's the longest tenured college baseball coach in the country, regardless of division.
The veteran coach is very optimistic heading into the season with a talented pitcher in Dawson, four returning All-Conference performers and experience at every position.
Dawson finished last season with a 6-4 record and a 3.16 ERA in 12 starts. He pitched a pair of shutouts and struck out a school record 95, including at least ten four times. As a sophomore in 2017, he set a Bentley single season record with 15 strikeouts in a win over St. Michael's.
The other two starters this weekend are expected to be senior righties Paul Frisoli (Watertown/ Arlington Catholic HS) on Saturday and Llewellyn Jensen (Auburn, Maine/Edward Little HS) on Sunday. Last year, Frisoli was 1-1 with a 5.92 ERA and Jensen 1-2 with a 5.18.
Second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N), a graduate student, and senior right fielder Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) are both back after earning first-team All-Northeast-10 honors and All-East Region recognition in 2018. Samko had the second-best batting average in the 15-team Northeast-10 Conference, .374, and Grover is coming off a season in which he hit .337 with seven home runs and 38 RBI.
Also returning are junior first baseman Ryan Berardino (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS) and junior center fielder Max Troiani (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon HS), who both were All-NE10 third-team honorees. Troiani hit .351, stole 17 bases and made only one error in the field. Berardino, the 2017 East Region Rookie of the Year, connected at a .289 clip last season and is a .316 career hitter.
Junior shortstop Chris Hopkins (Malden/Malden Catholic HS) earned NE10 All-Rookie honors after hitting .271 last spring in his first Bentley season. During the first 25 games, he made only three errors in 149 chances.
All three opponents this weekend play in the Sunshine State Conference. Palm Beach Atlantic (26-24, 14-16) finished in fifth place and both Barry (22-28, 9-21) and Lynn (22-28, 9-21) tied for eighth in the 11-team conference. This year, in the preseason coaches' poll, Lynn was tabbed for fifth, Palm Beach Atlantic for sixth and Barry for tenth.
Palm Beach Atlantic returns both its leading pitcher, right-hander Mitchell Carroll (4-1, 2.27), and leading hitter, outfielder Connor Rowland (.323, 4 HR, 26 RBI).
Lynn lost a number of key performers, including Patrick Dorrian (17 HR, 57 RBI) and Rigo Beltran (6-2, 3.18), but among the returnees are infielder Tom Archer (.326, 6 HR) and senior reliever Victor Danza (4-1, 6.75).
Barry returns its top two in batting average, first baseman Richie Sobalvarro (,364) and outfielder Andrew Rapoza (.352), but lost its top two power hitters, Jonathan Quintana and Ryan Baldwin. They combined for 23 home runs a year ago.
Bentley will return to Florida for a three-game series at Rollins College Feb. 15-17.