Jan. 17, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT baseball announced its preliminary schedule for 2008 featuring 36 games against 19 opponents from nine different conferences. This year's slate of games promises to be challenging as 11 of MIT's opponents had winning records in 2007 with nine of them collecting an impressive 20 wins or more. Also highlighting the schedule are four games against opponents that qualified for the 2007 NCAA Tournament and three versus teams ranked in the 2007 ABCA/Collegiate Baseball Division III Preseason National Poll.
The Engineers open things up on Saturday, March 15, when they travel to upstate New York to face Vassar College. Adding a little intrigue to the match-up, MIT head coach Andy Barlow spent nine years as the head coach of the Brewers and led Vassar to its first winning season in 2003. The doubleheader will mark the first meeting between the two teams and will be the home opener for Vassar at their newly constructed Prentiss Field.
The home opener for MIT will be on March 18, as the Engineers welcome Little East opponent Rhode Island College to Briggs field. The Anchorman will be a tough challenge as they are coming off a 21-14 season. The following day, MIT plays another non-conference home game versus Wentworth Institute of Technology. Despite having campuses that are only minutes apart, these schools where unable to play in 2007 due to two rainouts. That Saturday, MIT begins its NEWMAC portion of the schedule with a home doubleheader against Babson College. Last year, MIT swept the Beavers at Govoni Field, but lost an elimination game in the NEWMAC Tournament. Heading into this season the NEWMAC is rated as the toughest conference in New England according to the Massey Ratings. The Massey Ratings, similar to a Ratings Percentage System (RPI), are calculated using strength of schedule and scoring margin.
Immediately following the conference doubleheader against Babson, MIT will travel to Arizona to take part in the Greater Phoenix Invitational where they will play seven games in five days. First up for the Engineers will be No. 19 Southern Maine. The nationally ranked Huskies are a perennial NCAA qualifier. Also scheduled during the trip will be doubleheaders versus Gustavus Adolphus and Colby as well as single nine-inning games against Middlebury and Castleton State. In the past two years, MIT has beaten several NCAA Tournament teams during the week-long trip including the 2006 NCAA Division III National Champions Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Upon returning home, MIT will continue to play games at a rapid pace. After enjoying a much needed rest/travel day on the 29th, MIT will play host to Newbury College on the 30th of March. Following this doubleheader, the Engineers will have completed a stretch where they will have played 11 games in nine days.
On April 1, MIT plays an important regional non-conference game against Brandeis. The last two years these two teams have locked up in classic pitching duels with Brandeis coming out on top, 3-2, in both occasions. After playing Coast Guard in a single, nine-inning home game on the 3rd, MIT will travel to No. 13 Wheaton in a rematch of the 2007 NEWMAC Semifinal game. MIT will be looking to exact revenge on the Lyons, who defeated the Engineers on three separate occasions last year on the way to earning the NEWMAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Beginning with the doubleheader against Wheaton, MIT begins an important stretch of conference play against Clark, WPI, Coast Guard, and Springfield. Also mixed in over these two weeks are non-conference tilts against Eastern Nazarene and Elms. On the 20th of April, MIT will travel to NESCAC foe Wesleyan University in the Engineers' final games before the NEWMAC Tournament. Last season, MIT had an impressive 5-2 record versus NESCAC opponents.
The NEWMAC Tournament will have a new twist this spring as the conference has implemented a new playoff format. Teams seeded #1 through #6 in the regular season will now play single nine-inning games on April 23 and 24. If the Engineers can advance past the first two days of the tournament, they will earn their program-record third consecutive appearance in the NEWMAC Semifinals. The semifinal and final rounds are set for April 26-27.
The last week of the regular season will see MIT play non-conference games against some quality regional opponents. After playing single nine-inning games against Worcester State and UMass-Boston, the Engineers will host 2007 NCAA Tournament participant Williams College in a doubleheader on May 3. Last season, the Ephs captured the NESCAC post-season title and concluded the season with a 27-10 record. The Engineers have defeated Williams in each of the past two seasons, and last year's 12-7 win by MIT snapped what had been an impressive seven-game winning streak. The next day, Suffolk comes to MIT looking to break a three-game losing streak against the Engineers. The regular season comes to a close on May 6 with a road game against MASCAC opponent Fitchburg State.
In two of the last three seasons, the conclusion of the regular season has been an exciting time for the Engineers as they have qualified for the ECAC Tournament. This season, MIT will look to make its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1974. This year's NCAA New England Regionals are scheduled to begin on May 14 and will continue through the 18th. The Division III World Series, to be played at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisconsin, is slated to begin on the 23rd with a champion to be determined on the 27th.