Diamond Scouting Report: Monmouth
Feb 23, 2012
Chris Taylor and UVa are set for the first home series of 2012. (photo by Ian Rogol)
The home portion of the 2012 baseball season got off to a thrilling start Wednesday afternoon with an emotionally draining come-from-behind 6-5 win over William & Mary in 11 innings. Now, the Cardiac Cavs welcome the Monmouth Hawks of the Northeast Conference to Davenport Field for the first time in history for a three-game set this weekend. The Hawks are undefeated at 3-0 in 2012 and scored a total of 31 runs in their first three games. Friday's game begins at 3 p.m. while both the games on Saturday and Sunday start at 1 p.m.
Here is a brief scouting report on Monmouth:
Monmouth Scouting Report
2012 Results to date: 3-0 after enjoying big offensive explosions in Cary, N.C. last weekend in beating Wright State 10-2, St. Joseph's 7-3 and Youngstown State 14-2. The Hawks did not play a midweek game this week.
2011 Results: 36-19, 25-7 in NEC competition, won the Northeast Conference regular season championship but lost in the conference tournament finals to Sacred Heart and did not get into the NCAA Tournament.
2011 Series with Virginia: First ever meeting.
Outlook: Coach Dean Ehehalt begins his 19th year at Monmouth with a lot of returning and talented veterans from his 2011 championship team. Even though the Hawks lost starting LHP Nick Myers, who was Pitcher of the Year in the NEC last year, they return two weekend quality starters and their top closer plus a majority of their starting position players. Coach Ehehalt has also added 11 freshmen and a couple of JUCO transfers to bolster the roster.
The Hawks were once again picked to win the Northeast Conference. They play the first 14 games in 2012 away from their home in West Long Branch, NJ, and no midweek games until Georgia State on March 13 in Atlanta. Baseball America projects the Hawks going to this year's NCAA Tournament as the fourth seed in the Tucson region.
Pitching: Nine pitchers return from the 2011 championship team including starters Dan Smith (LHP, JR, 5-3, 3.69 ERA) and Pat Light (RHP, JR, 4-5, 4.04 ERA), both of whom pitched 75 innings for the Hawks last year, and closer Andrew McGee (LHP, SO, 5-3, 2.51 ERA) who pitched 46 innings. Monmouth's team ERA was 3.34 last year which compares favorably to UVa's 2.24. Light pitched the Friday game last weekend against Wright State and went 7 IP for the win. Smith pitched the Saturday game against St. Joseph's and went 6 IP for the win. Sophomore LHP Stephen Frey pitched the Sunday game against Youngstown State and went 5 IP for the win.
Hitting/Fielding: Monmouth's top two offensive performers from last year have graduated. Ryan Terry (20th round selection of the Rays and NEC Player of the Year) set the Hawks all-time career hits and doubles marks last year while batting .382. Nick Pulsonetti set the Monmouth career HR mark last year (36) and batted .324. But the Hawks return the entire outfield in seniors Ed Martin (L/L, .298), Josh Boyd (L/L, .233) and Jamie Rosenkranz (R/R, .299). Junior Danny Avella (L/R, .232) led the Hawks in HRs last year with 9 and returns to play 1B. Senior Owen Stewart (R/R, .282) will start at 3B. And sophomores Jake Gronsky (R/R, .292) and Jon Guida (R/R, .302) will man the middle of the diamond. Last year the Hawks only made 66 errors (.967 fld%) which also compares favorably with UVa at 54 errors and .978 fld%. The Hawks' offense was clicking on all cylinders last weekend and, so far in 2012, the team batting average is .330 with five starters averaging .364 or better, including two over .400 (Boyd at .429 and Stewart at .417).
Prediction: The Hawks will not be intimidated by Davenport Field or Virginia's program stature; they are a good veteran baseball team. If UVa's pitchers can corral the Monmouth offense, then I think the hosts take 2 of 3 games, but I honestly can't tell you which two since my betting credits at Las Vegas ran out on Wednesday.
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