Updated: February 05, 2013 5:02 pm (ET)
by America East Communications
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— After a historic run to the College World Series, reigning America East champion and back-to-back regular-season title holder Stony Brook University was picked first in the 2013 America East Preseason Coaches’ poll as determined by a vote by the league’s six head coaches who were not allowed the vote for their own teams. The conference office made the announcement on Wednesday.
Stony Brook received four of a possible five first-place votes to garner 23 points atop the poll. Maine was picked second for the second-straight year, with one first-place vote and 19 points. Close behind was Binghamton in third, also receiving one first-place vote and 18 points. Albany (13 points) was next in fourth, followed by Hartford (12) in fifth and UMBC (5) in sixth.
The 2013 America East Baseball Championship, a four-team double-elimination format, will be held at the field of the top seed May 22-24. The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship where four different America East teams have knocked off Regional Round opponents over the last four years. Stony Brook became the first America East team to make a trip to Omaha for the College World Series after upsetting LSU in the Super Regional round.
Stony Brook (52-15) won both the America East regular-season and tournament titles before advancing through regional competition and then beating LSU in the Super Regional to move on to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Seawolves won an NCAA-best 52 games in 2012, but will have to make up for the loss of seven Major League Baseball draft picks off last year’s squad. Returning for Stony Brook are Freshmen All-Americans Steven Goldstein, Kevin Krause and Cole Peragine. All three were also America East All-Rookie selections. Goldstein hit .337 last year while driving in 34 runs and stealing 14 bases, while Krause hit .330. Peragine, the America East Rookie of the Year, hit .304 with 39 RBI while also putting up stellar defensive numbers with 116 putouts and 182 assists and a .946 fielding percentage. Senior captain Tanner Nivins, an All-Conference First Team selection, will be an integral part of the Seawolves attack that welcomes a class of 11 freshmen to Long Island.
Maine (28-28, 11-11 AE) lost in the title game of the 2012 of the America East Championship after finishing fourth in the regular season. The Black Bears return 18 letterwinners and seven starters while bringing in 13 newcomers to Orono. Included among the returners are Michael Fransoso, an America East First Team selection last year, batting .327 with 50 runs scored and 26 RBI. He also had 18 doubles, five home runs and four triples for a .511 slugging percentage. On the mound, the Black Bears turn to another All-Conference First Team performer in Shaun Coughlin, who finishes last season with a 3.98 ERA and 51 strikeouts. Maine also looks to offensive production out of Fran Whitten and Colin Gay, who were each named to the All-America East Second Team. Whitten was a .290 hitter with 32 RBI, and Gay hit .299 and was one of just three Black Bears to play all 56 games.
Four-time America East regular-season champion Binghamton (23-26, 13-9 AE) was picked third this season by the coaches. The Bearcats return 23 letterwinners, eight positional starters and three starting pitchers to a team that finished third in the America East in 2012. Binghamton will have to replace No. 1 starter Mike Augliera, a fifth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox. Returning to the diamond is America East All-Conference Second Team selection Daniel Navares, who was second on the team with a .343 average while starting all 41 games. The team’s leading hitter, Brian Ruby, also returns after batting .371 in 2012, earning him a spot on the America East All-Rookie Team. Jake Lambert and Jay Lynch will anchor the pitching staff. Lambert finished 2012 with a 3.79 ERA, while Lynch struck out 39 batters in 51.2 innings of work.
Albany (22-32-1, 16-8 AE) looks to build on its most successful conference season in the program’s Division I history, winning 16 America East contests and earning the No. 2 seed in the America East Championship. Sevenl players earned all-conference honors and left-handed pitcher Sean Lucas was selected in th 25th round of the MLB draft, the highest draft choice in Albany program history. The Great Danes will rely on 2013 captains D.J. Hoagboon, Josh Nethaway, Greg Muller and Jeff Welsh. Hoagboon is the team’s top returning hitter, batting a team-best .318 in 2012 earning him a spot on the All-America East Second Team. Nethaway hit .313 and also was a second team selection, driving in 30 runs while splitting time between first base and outfield. Muller finished the year with a .993 field percentage, while Welsh hit .284 with a .474 slugging percentage.
Hartford (16-40, 7-17 AE) is in search of its first bid to the America East Championship since 1996 under second year head coach Justin Blood. Catcher James Alfonso is the team’s top returning hitter, batting .290 while starting all 56 games for the Hawks in 2012. Also returning to West Hartford is All-Rookie Team selection Sean Newcomb, who had a solid freshman campaign on the mound wiht a 4.17 ERA in nine starts, striking out 45 batters in 45.1 innings. Senior outfielder Pay Knauth and sophomore pitcher/outfielder Ryan Lukach will serve as captains in 2013 for a Hawks team that begins play on Feb. 22 with a four-game series against Campbell.
UMBC (10-42, 2-22 AE) brings in 16 newcomers to Baltimore, the most for any America East team this year. The Retrievers, who return six position starters and seven pitchers, are looking for their second appearance in the America East Championship in program history. At the plate, UMBC turns to first baseman/outfield Anthony Gatto, who hit .303 last season with 22 RBI and a team-best 12 doubles. On the mound, workhorses Shane Vlasic and Mac Gill bring the most experience, combining for 123 innings last year. The Retrievers start their season on Friday, March 1 against NC State in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
2013 Preseason Poll
Rank Team (1st-place votes), Total
1. Stony Brook (4), 23
2. Maine (1), 19
3. Binghamton (1), 18
4. Albany, 13
5. Hartford, 12
6. UMBC, 5