27. SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE PENMEN (43-15)
2012 Final Ranking: 14
The Penmen had one of the most unusual, yet ultimately successful, seasons in DII baseball last season. After starting the season unranked SNHU entered the rankings midseason, only to fall out once again after a late April swoon in which they went 3-7. Then, despite having the best record in the East, the Penmen missed qualifying for the NE-10 Tournament but were nonetheless awarded the top seed and host of the East Regional which they won to advance to Cary for the first time in school history. It was all very Kafkaesque. Replicating last season’s success will be an arduous task. SNHU may have more talent than last season, but needs to replace their top pitcher and hitter from last season.
Tim Flight was a finalist for the Tino Martinez Award and his 1.31 ERA, nine wins and 140 strikeouts will be hard to replace.
Returning pitchers Junior Mendez and Alex Powers will do their best however and were also big reasons why the Penmen led the nation in ERA last season. Mendez had a 1.38 ERA as a starter and ended a 6-3 record with five complete games while holding opposition to a .194 batting average. Powers will be joining the Penmen rotation after spending last spring in the bullpen. Last season he went 5-2 with a 1.52 ERA and freakishly fanned 48 batters in just 29.2 innings of work. Another experienced hurler who is anticipated to contribute in 2013 is that of Tyler Gauthier who had a 2.78 ERA and limited opposing batters to a .200 batting average in a relief role. Despite their successes, additional arms will need to step up to replace three departed starters if SHNU is to contend once again.
The offense will be without last season’s leading hitter Kevin Spatkowski, but much of the heart of the order is back in Manchester. Matt Boulter will be back at third base after hitting .299 last season and leading the team with 52 RBI. Jon Minucci hit .295 and paced SHNU with nine homeruns. Al Stanton was the NE-10 Rookie of the Year in 2011 and has a .313 collegiate batting average; however he missed much of last season due to injury. Head Coach Scott Loiseau has a pair of transfers headed to the diamond who could pay off offensively. Andrew Pezzuto batted .367 for the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons and led the team with seven triples. UConn transfer Anthony Aceto will be looking to jumpstart his college career as the former Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year had limited success with the Huskies.