Engineer Baseball Set for Tough Early Schedule
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Last season, the MIT baseball team finished the year on a hot streak. In 2011, they will need to continue that torrid pace, especially with the difficulty of their early season schedule. MIT will face two of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) favorites early in the year, as they will play Wheaton College and Babson College before the end of March.
The Cardinal and Grey, who were 17-16 last season, with a 4-8 mark in conference play, will return six starters from last year's lineup and a host of pitchers. Seniors Ryne Barry (.241 ERA, 3 pitching wins last season) and Cameron Brown (2.14 ERA) will return to the mound, as will Max Ockner, Aric Dama and Henry Zhu. The trio of sophomores won a combined ten games for the Engineers and Ockner and Zhu each posted ERAs under 2.8, with Zhu collecting four saves out of the pen.
In the lineup, MIT will try to make up for the loss of 2010 senior Stewart Park, whose productivity included a .322 batting average, 2 homers, 25 runs scored and 24 stolen bases. They will look to returning infielders Bryan Macomber, who scored 20 runs himself last season and Ricardo Perez, who batted .305 with 14 RBIs. Outfielder James McKinney will also return to the team after scoring 20 runs and stealing 16 bases last season while batting a hair under .300. Seniors Dan Hyatt (.243, 18 RBI) and Brian Doyle (.225, 13 RBI) will look to surpass last season's productivity in their final year with the Engineers.
Tech also strengthened their infield, adding three new prospects to the fold. Jonathan Rea (Palo Alto, Calif.), Sean Karson, (Winter Park, Fla.), and Patrick Dayton (Archer City, Texas) are all top newcomers in the infield, while Justin Helbert (St. Louis, Missouri) will begin his career patrolling the outfield for the Engineers. MIT also bolstered their pitching staff, adding right-hander Kiel Jindra (Oceanside, Calif.) and southpaw Brandon Lowe (Brier, Wash.).
Tech will start their season with a spring training trip to Florida, but will find no friendly competition there. The conference series with Wheaton will take place in the Sunshine State, along with several non-conference matchups. They will then return home to face Babson before tilts with WPI and Coast Guard.
"We face a very demanding schedule and play several of the top ranked schools in the region," said Tech coach Andy Barlow. "However, we have a strong incoming class of recruits and fully expect many of them to impact immediately. The depth of our pitching staff will be our strength in 2011 and if we can manufacture some runs on offense we fully expect make a strong bid for a NEWMAC conference title and a post-season berth."
The NEWMAC tournament will be held from April 20-24. In addition to its conference schedule, the Engineers will face the likes of non-conference opponents Trinity (2008 National Champion), UMass Boston (2010 NCAA tournament finalists) and Worcester State (2010 NCAA Regionals).
After changes to the NEWMAC baseball scheduling format, each team will play their conference opponents three times, rather than just a pair of games as in years past, a change that coach Barlow is excited about. "The new 3 game series format will place an emphasis on team depth and will add to the competitive balance of the league," said Barlow, who is entering his eighth season with the Engineers.
If the weather holds, the Engineers will start their season with a trip to Connecticut to play a doubleheader with Trinity on Saturday, March 12th. Their home opener is slated for Wednesday, March 16th against Wentworth.