2012 Fitchburg State Basball Preview
Fitchburg State Is Fighting Its Way Up The MASCAC
The Fitchburg State baseball team enters its 2012 season looking to work its way up the MASCAC ladder and vie for a spot in the league’s top four, earning a trip to the coveted conference playoffs. After posting an overall record of 16-18 and a 6-8 conference record a year ago, the Falcons and fifth year head coach, Todd Lynch are looking to make some strides towards the tourney.
This year, the Falcons entered the pre-season with ten additions to their roster, receiving players from Manchester Community College as well as several new freshman faces. “This season, we have competition at each position,” said Lynch. “Everyone is fighting for playing time and the competition will only bring out the best in each player.”
As in years past, Fitchburg State will turn to a high-power offense and solid defense for its tournament pursuit. Looking to crack the nation’s Top 25 in both the offensive and defensive categories, both Lynch and Falcons realize that strong defense and timely hitting will be the key to their success.
Known for its offensive production, Fitchburg State has entered the pre-season ready to catch fire, boasting a strong line-up with a pair of returning All-Conference players. “This year, we are just looking to get better every day,” said Lynch. “Being ranked seventh in the pre-season poll leaves plenty of room to surprise some people!”
Offensively, Fitchburg State returns a solid core of veterans to fill its main spots, including All-Conference second team honorees Jeff Boice (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury) and Dave Mason (Leominster, Mass./Leominster). Last season, the pair both hit nearly .320, combining for 73 hits, 12 doubles, two homeruns and 43 RBI. Boice led the charge with 39 hits and 28 RBI, while Mason added 34 hits and 13 runs scored.
Junior Cody Bamforth (Vernon, Conn./Rockville) returns to the Fitchburg State line up after ranking second on the squad last year with a .383 average, ten doubles, two triples, one homerun and 14 RBI. Senior Frank Yavorosky (Westminster, Mass./Oakmont) also returns to the Falcons batting order (.333 BA, 16R, 23 RBI), while junior Matt Zajac (New Hartford, Conn./Saint Paul Catholic) will look to make some noise this year after belting a pair of homeruns during the 2011 campaign (.333 BA, 6 2B, 26 RBI).
Fitchburg State will also turn to its slew of transfers to make an impact within its line up as the Falcons welcome five new faces into the program. Andrew Tremley (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Eastern), Chris Rivera (New Britain, Conn./New Britain), and Patrick McMahon (S. Windsor, Conn./S. Windsor) all transferred in from Manchester Community College, while Franklin Pierce transfer Mike Szajner (Leominster, Mass./Leominster) and Worcester State transfer Shawn Trombley (Leominster, Mass./Leominster) will seek immediate playing time.
This season, Fitchburg State has a lot of competition and depth within the infield, including several opportunities up the middle. Despite the loss of All-Conference player, John Phelan, Fitchburg State continues to look solid up the middle with McMahon and AJ Silberman (Meriden, Conn./Wilcox Tech) hosting the duties. Tremley is also slotted to see sometime up the middle, while Yavorosky is slated as the Falcons everyday third basemen entering the pre-season. Across the diamond there will be a three way battle for the starting first basemen role as Boice, junior Randy Ortiz (Danielson, Conn./Killingly) and newcomer Andrew Dirga (Granville, N.Y./Granville) will compete for the opening day job.
Behind the plate, Fitchburg State holds a lot of talent with both Zajac returning from a solid sophomore season and senior Will Comerford (Ayer, Mass./Ayer) returning after suffering a season-ending injury a year ago. Last season, Zajac threw out 39.0 % of all base stealers, while Comerford caught 24.0% in 2010. Also joining the mix behind the dish will be senior Jake Alves (Gloucester, Mass./Gloucester), who will serve the as the primary back-up for both Zajac and Comerford.
One of the deepest areas for Fitchburg State this year will be its outfield as it brings six potential starters into its camp. Bamforth, a starting center-fielder for the Falcons in 2011, will move over to left field this season, as transfer Chris Rivera looks to settle in as the Falcons everyday centerfielder. Mason is expected to keep his right-field duties, while Ortiz, Szajner and Boice will all compete for an opening day spot.
On the mound, Fitchburg State returns a veteran crew led by senior Michal Mercier (Townsend, Mass./Saint Bernards). Mercier, the Falcons ace, is coming off a strong 2011 season where he ranked among the MASCAC elite, posting a 4.75 ERA with four complete games and 29 K’s. Junior Tynan Flegg (Calgary, AB/National Sport Academy) is slated as the Falcons second starter, posting a 4-4 mark and 4.63 ERA over the 2011 campaign, while senior Perry Russo (East Hartford, Conn./East Hartford) is penciled in as the Falcons number three.
In the pen, the Falcons hold a lot of depth with junior Pat Mercier (Townsend, Mass./Saint Bernards) and Zach Bombria (Bolton, Conn./Bolton) leading the pack. Last season, Mercier notched five appearances, posting 12 K’s over 16.0 IP, while Bombria registered minimal 1.64 ERA over 11.0 IP. Yavorosky and Josh Therrian (Gardner, Mass./Gardner) also looked to add to the mix, while junior Dylan Smith (New London, Conn./New London) is expected to have a big season after looking very strong in the spring.
The 2011 schedule appears to be strong for Fitchburg State as the Falcons open the season with eight games in six days down in Winter Haven, Fla. The Falcons kick off the 2011 campaign with a pair of doubleheaders vs. Roger Williams and Rhode Island College before battling Drew, Endicott and Vassar College in single games. A single game vs. Suffolk wraps up the trip for Fitchburg State before it returns back north for a contest at Anna Maria on March 20th.
Fitchburg State continues a series of non-conference games vs. Newbury (3/22), Fisher (3/24), UMass Boston (3/27), Daniel Webster (3/28) and Curry (3/29), before opening conference play with a Saturday afternoon doubleheader vs. Salem State (3/31).
“We open the season with a very tough Florida schedule,” said Lynch. “It doesn’t get any easier with some tough non-conference series and always competitive MASCAC schedule. But if we perform like we are supposed to, we should definitely be in the playoff hunt come the end of the season.”