Jan. 14, 2009
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT baseball announced its preliminary schedule for 2009 featuring 35 games against 24 opponents from 12 different conferences. This year's slate of games promises to be challenging as 12 teams had overall records of .500 or better. Even more impressively, four opponents collected 30 wins or more and 10 collected at least 20. Also highlighting the schedule are three games against teams that qualified for the 2008 NCAA Tournament and three more versus ECAC New England Region Championship participants.
The Engineers open things up on March 15, when they travel to upstate New York to face Vassar College of the Liberty League. Adding a little intrigue to the match-up, MIT's Andy Barlow spent nine years as the head coach of the Brewers and led them to their first winning season in 2003. The doubleheader at the Brewers' newly constructed Prentiss Field will mark only the second all-time meeting between the two teams. MIT swept a pair of games last spring in Cambridge.
Two days later, MIT plays another non-conference road game versus Rhode Island College. The Anchorman will be a tough challenge as they are coming off a 24-15 season that included an 8-6 record in the perennially tough Little East Conference. The home opener for MIT will be on March 18, as the Engineers welcome Wentworth Institute of Technology to Briggs Field. Despite having campuses that are only minutes apart, these schools where unable to play in 2007 and 2008 due to a series of rainouts. In 2008, WIT put together the best season in its program's history after finishing with an impressive 30-14 record. The Leopards season was highlighted by appearances in both The Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC) Tournament Finals and the ECAC New England Championship.
A day after their game against Wentworth, MIT will travel to Arizona to take part in the Greater Phoenix Invitational where they will play eight games in five days. First up for the Engineers will be Roger Williams University who is coming off 34-12 season and an ECAC New England Region Championship. Also scheduled during the trip will be doubleheaders versus Oberlin College and University of Chicago, as well as single nine-inning games against Minot State University, Hamline University and Colby College. In the past three years, MIT has beaten several NCAA Tournament or nationally ranked teams during the week-long trip, including the 2006 NCAA Division III National Champions Wisconsin-Whitewater, Southern Maine and Castleton State.
Three days after returning from Phoenix, MIT begins its New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) portion of the schedule with a home doubleheader against Wheaton College. The Engineers will be looking to exact some revenge on the Lyons in this rematch of the NEWMAC Tournament Championship Round. Wheaton defeated MIT on four separate occasions in 2008 on the way to earning the NEWMAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Next up on March 31, MIT plays an important regional non-conference tilt against Brandeis University. The last three years these two teams have locked up in classic pitching duels with the Judges coming out on each occasion. Although they finished the '08 campaign with a 19-19 record, Brandeis captured the highly competitive University Athletic Association (UAA) Tournament with a 10-7 win over national powerhouse Emory University. Following the regular season Brandeis was rewarded with a bid to the ECAC Championship, but was eliminated in the first round of play.
Beginning with a single nine-inning game on April 2 versus Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), MIT enters an important stretch of conference play. On April 4, MIT squares off against conference powerhouse and defending NEWMAC regular season champion Babson College. Last year, MIT handed the Beavers their only regular season conference loss in a thrilling 13-12 extra inning game at Briggs Field. Despite an early round exit from the NEWMAC Tournament, Babson concluded the '08 season with a 26-14 record and was in contention for an at-large NCAA berth. Next up for the Engineers is a mid-week game versus Springfield College. In '08 MIT defeated the Pride in the first round of the NEWMAC playoffs, but Springfield rebounded from the loss to advance to the tournament's championship round. After another mid-week contest versus WPI, MIT will host Coast Guard Academy in a key home conference doubleheader. Last year, MIT swept the Bears in two separate nine-inning games. After home contests versus Springfield and non-conference opponent Eastern Nazarene, MIT concludes NEWMAC play on April 18 with a road doubleheader versus Clark.
Following an April 19 doubleheader with third-year NCAA Division III program Newbury College, MIT will ready itself for the 2009 NEWMAC Tournament. Teams seeded #1 through #6 in the regular season will play single nine-inning games on April 22 and 23. If the Engineers can advance past the first two days of the tournament, they will earn their program-record fourth consecutive appearance in the NEWMAC Semifinals. The semifinal and final rounds are set for April 25-26.
The last week of the regular season will see MIT play non-conference games against some quality regional opponents. First up will be 2008 NCAA Tournament participant Worcester State College. The Lancers swept through the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament and picked up a win in the NCAA Tournament en route to a 24-18 season. Next up MIT will play host to Fisher College, which the Engineers defeated twice in `08. Before being eliminated in the NAIA Super Regionals, Fisher swept through the Regional Tournament and concluded the season with an overall record of 34-23. After playing a single game versus UMass-Boston, the Engineers will travel to Western Massachusetts to play a non-conference doubleheader versus 2007 NCAA Tournament participant Williams College. Before losing a tough one-run game to Williams last year, the Engineers had defeated the Ephs the past two seasons. The Ephs enjoyed a 24-12 record in '08 and lost a pair of one run games in the highly competitive New England Small School Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament. The NESCAC Tournament's winner, Trinity (Conn.) College went on to win the 2008 NCAA Division III Championship and finished the season with a remarkable 45-1 record. The following day on May 3, Suffolk University comes to Briggs Field looking to notch only its second victory versus the Engineers in the past five years. Although they were upset in their conference tournament, Suffolk went 14-0 in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) regular season play and concluded the season with an impressive 29-12 record. MIT's regular season comes to a close with a home game versus Fitchburg State.
Over the past few seasons, MIT Baseball has experienced unprecedented team success. In 2006 the Engineers advanced to their first-ever conference championship game where they were defeated by No. 2 nationally-ranked Wheaton College, which was the runner-up in the NCAA D III World Series. During the course of the regular season MIT defeated defending national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater, nationally ranked Southern Maine, as well as perennial powerhouse Williams College en route to a 21-14 season and a selection to the ECAC New England Region Championship. In 2007 and 2008, the Engineers continued to make history as they established program records by finishing third or better in the NEWMAC during the conference's regular season and post-season tournament. The consecutive semifinals appearances allowed MIT to fall just two games short of qualifying for the NCAA New England Regional Tournament.
In 2009, MIT will look to break through and make its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1974. This year's New England Regionals are scheduled to begin on May 13 and will continue through the 17th. The Division III World Series, to be played at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisconsin, is slated to begin on the 22nd with a champion to be determined on the 26th.