For the sixth time, and the second consecutive full season, the Stony Brook Seawolves are the regular-season champions of the America East Baseball. As the final weekend nears they are the only team with less than ten losses in league play. They are also the only program with under ten losses for the entire year. When the conference tournament gets underway in about two weeks, they will be the #1 seed and host of the event. The remaining three spots are still up for grabs with Division A setting themselves up for a wild finish with all four teams separated by two games. Two thru four are a half-game apart. A great weekend of college baseball is ahead so here is how things look.
Last week saw UAlbany (18-16, 0.529) split a hard-fought four-game series with UMass Lowell (16-18, 0.471). The Great Danes will finish the regular season on the road as they will head to UMaine (14-15,0.483). That four-game set could be for the division title or just a spot in the tournament. That’s because the River Hawks will play host to the Hartford Hawks (16-18. 0.471) in a series that will have a lot going on. Not only will a playoff spot be available for both teams but for the Hawks, this may very well be their last weekend of D-1 baseball since a reclassification of the athletic department to D-3 appears to be on the horizon.
Lowell and Hartford have been butting heads on the basketball court in the AE playoffs for the past three years. This past March, they played for the league championship with the Hawks coming out on top. Now they will get to do this on the diamond with a lot at stake. Lowell will enter this weekend with a banged-up team that still believes they have something left. Hartford comes into this one with a pitching staff that got roughed up in their home finale vs the Black Bears last weekend. They allowed 40 runs while their offense scored only 14. Better pitching by the Hawks will be a must if they want to give themselves a chance vs Lowell. There is also a batting title on the line as Hartford’s John Thrasher (.377) has a four point lead on River Hawks Jimmy Sullivan (.373).
Albany and Maine will have plenty to play for as well off of their big weekend at the plate in Hartford. The Black Bears now own the best team batting average in the league at .276. Albany is fifth in the team hitting race at .262. Maine has the second-best team ERA at 4.61 with Nicholas Sinacola the school’s all-time single-season strikeouts king at (114) the best with a 1.96 ERA in 10 games. Ray Webber, who pitched well in Lowell last week, is the Great Danes best at 3.84. Albany is the best defensive team in the league with a .972 fielding percentage (40 errors on 1408 chances). They have turned 23 double plays which are tied for second in the league. Maine has committed 44 errors on 1246 chances for a .965 fielding percentage. They too have turned 23 double plays. Both teams have hot bats that these pitching staffs will have to be careful with. For Albany, it’s Brad Malm and for Maine Sean Lawlor (.361 BA).
In Division B, NJIT (19-17, 0.528) took a leg up in the chase for the second playoff spot. They took three of four in their head-to-head matchup with Binghamton (15-17, 0.469). Both teams will finish their seasons at home this week with the Highlanders hosting UMBC. Binghamton welcomes Stony Brook. Looks like NJIT may have an advantage in this setup.
The Player of The Week is Albany’s, Brad Malm. His slash line was .769/.778/1.462 in the four games at Lowell. It appeared that every big moment for the Great Danes at the plate Malm was the guy. He drove in seven runs and scored three times. In Saturday’s doubleheader, he went 6-for-6 with four of those hits being doubles. He finished the series with six doubles. Malm leads the conference in doubles with 20, and in hits with 56. This is the second weekly award and both have come this year.
The Pitcher of the Week is Maine’s, Alex McKenney. In game one of Saturday’s twin-bill in Hartford, McKenney threw six shutout innings. He allowed just one hit, struck out six, and walked three. The right-hander got the Black Bears back on track by winning the first of what would be three in a row in Hartford. Alex has a record of 4-5 with a 3.86 ERA heading into Albany weekend. This is McKenney’s second award of the season.
The Rookie of the Week is NJIT DH Cole Fleming. He hit .500, 5-for-10, in three games vs the Bearcats. He reached base 50% of the time and scored four runs. In Sunday’s sweep by the Highlanders, Fleming drove in three runs. This is Fleming’s first weekly award this season.
Next week we will know the fourth team who will play for the conference championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA baseball tournament.