March 12, 2003

Ivy Baseball Preview — Parity Makes for Wide Open League

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While the 2003 season doesn’t have the overall talent of last year’s league, the pennant races in both the Gehrig and Rolfe divisions appear wide open. Here’s a look at this year’s Ivy League contenders and pretenders, in order of predicted finish.

Lou Gehrig Division

Princeton

2002: 22-23, 13-7

The Tigers have claimed seven straight division titles and won the overall league title in 2000 and 2001 before being dethroned by Harvard last season. However, they return 10 of their top 11 hitters, losing only shortstop Pat Boran. Additionally, the Orange and Black return two of the league’s best pitchers in right-handers Thomas Pauly and Russ Ohlendorf. Pauly is the league’s best prospect according to Baseball America, finishing 2-2 last season with a 1.33 ERA and eight saves in 41 innings.

Penn

2002: 17-22, 11-9

The Quakers return all eight of their offensive starters, including second baseman Nick Italiano, shortstop Steve Glass, and outfielder Andrew McCreery. Italiano is one of the most sure-handed infielders in the league, also tying McCreery for the team lead in home runs a year ago with six. Italiano led the team with 33 RBI, while McCreery was tops in batting average at .390. McCreery is also a talented pitcher, relying on a devastating slider. He will be joined in the rotation by sophomore phenom Bill Kirk, who was 3-0 with three saves in 2002.

Columbia

2002: 27-23, 5-9

The Lions have one of the strongest lineups in the Ivy League, boasting one of the league’s best power hitters in catcher Joe Catsam. Catsam, a senior, bashed 12 home runs and 42 RBI in 2002, finishing the season with a .295 batting average. Shortstop Billy Hess added 35 RBI, while scoring 41 runs in 2002, and is joined up the middle by second baseman Jorge Livermore. Livermore scored a team-high 43 times last season. Brian McKitish is the staff ace, finishing 2-2 in Ivy action last year, with 20 strikeouts in 31 league innings.

Cornell

2002: 15-30, 6-14

See page 6 for an in-depth look at this year’s team.

Red Rolfe Division

Dartmouth

2002: 20-21, 9-11

The Green has one of the league’s best players patrolling its outfield in Scott Shirrell. Shirrell batted .369 with six long balls, while driving in 45 runs. The infield corners are positions of strength, with first baseman Mike Mileusnic and third baseman Ed Lucas wielding solid lumber. Mileusnic stroked four home runs to go along with 34 RBI, while Lucas added 21 RBI. Tim Grant, 2-0 in 2002, and highly touted freshman right-hander Patrick Pfeiffer will form the backbone of Dartmouth’s pitching staff.

Brown

2002: 14-22, 6-8

Like Dartmouth, the Bears return one of the best outfielders in the league, Matt Kutler. The center fielder hit .358 with three home runs and 43 RBI in 2002, and is arguably the best defensive outfielder in the Ivies. The infield should be outstanding, with second baseman Bobby Deeb and third baseman Jeff Nichols collecting second-team All-Ivy honors a season ago. Deeb is sixth all-time amongst Brown batting average leaders, coming into this season with a lifetime mark of .353. However, the one question mark for Brown is its pitching staff, having lost three all-league starters. Right-hander Chris Davidson will anchor the rotation, hoping to build upon his promising freshman season.

Harvard

2002: 31-10, 12-2

Champions last year, the Crimson lost several key players to graduation, including Ivy League Pitcher of the Year and Colorado Rockies third round draft pick Ben Crockett. However, Harvard does have one of the league’s most menacing offensive threats in Trey Hendricks. He knocked in 29 runs in 2002, finishing with six homers and a .365 batting average.

Yale

2002: 22-22-1, 5-9

The worst team in the Ivy League last year, the Elis will be hard pressed to improve this year. They lost their two best pitchers, Matt McCarthy and Craig Breslow, to the June draft, and will need to get significant innings from sophomores Josh Sowers and Mike Elias.

The Bulldogs’ infield defense was a strength in 2002, turning 32 double plays, and returns shortstop Steven Duke. In the outfield, speedster Chris Elkins returns. An All-Ivy outfielder, Elkins batted .374 in 2002.

Archived article by Mark Fetzko

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