04/18/2018 10:28 AM
By Joshua Kummins
With less than 50 days until the start of Futures Collegiate Baseball League play, the Navigators College Baseball Report returns for the second time in 2018. This installment focuses on those competing at the NCAA Division 2, Division 3, and junior college levels this spring:
NCAA DIVISION 2
This summer’s Navs roster includes three players from two D2 clubs that advanced to the NCAA East Regional a year ago in Southern Connecticut State pitcher Brandon Rentas and infielder Bobby Schryver, as well as LIU Post outfielder Drew Robertson. Schryver went 15-for-63 with six runs scored, five doubles, three RBI, and 10 walks in his first 20 games for the Owls, with his fourth two-hit game of the season coming April 11 against New Haven.
Three former Navs play for St. Thomas Aquinas, which has been the No. 3 team in the East Region for several weeks after advancing to the College World Series last spring. All-FCBL shortstop Joey Pena (2016-17) leads the East Coast Conference in several offensive categories, including batting average (.405), runs scored (35), doubles (14), and on-base percentage (.526). Outfielder Giovanni Dingcong (2015) leads the league with nine home runs and 30 RBI while hitting .383. A key member of the Spartan bullpen, Chris Pennell (2017) has earned the win in four of his 11 appearances and fanned 20 batters over 14 innings of work.
Mercyhurst’s Drew Delsignore (2016) has a .323 average with two home runs and 20 RBI through 29 games after being selected as Preseason All-American at designated hitter. Pitcher Evan Glew (2016-17) sports a 4-1 record through six starts and 38 strikeouts in his 35.2 innings of work with Franklin Pierce. Catcher Ricky Smith (2015) totaled 15 RBI in his first 23 games for Northeast-10 rival Merrimack.
In Florida, two-year veteran Cam Lanzilli (2016-17) earned his second win this season for Eckerd after tossing three scoreless innings against Flagler on April 6. Shortstop Riley Herold (2016) sits second on his Palm Beach Atlantic team with five homers and 29 RBI in 26 games.
NCAA DIVISION 3
The Navs’ rosters over the last few summers have welcomed players from eight of the nine conferences that include New England-based programs, and the team’s connection to the local D3 ranks continues with a dozen players from six schools scheduled to play this summer.
Pitchers Stephen Keskinidis and Brock Riley enter the fold from Salem State, where they call multi-year Navs veterans MacDaniel Singleton (2015-17) and R.J. Warnock (2016-17) their teammates. The Vikings have now sent players over to Fraser Field for at least parts of seven consecutive summers.
Riley is 4-1 with three saves on the season, ranking second in the MASCAC in both wins and saves. His 36 strikeouts in 32 innings of work, spanning 10 appearances and five starts, are sixth in the league. Keskinidis won three of his first four starts, including a seven-inning complete game March 10 against Marian (Wis.) in which he recorded eight of his 25 strikeouts. The Stoneham native was named MASCAC Pitcher of the Week for that early-season effort and boasts a 1.27 ERA on the year.
Southern Maine infielder Andrew Olszak of Danvers will carry the ball for the Little East this summer. Olszak and reigning All-New England utility player Jake Dexter (2016) make up the middle infield for the Huskies, who are the No. 23 team in the nation. Olszak has a .293 average and team-high 22 RBI. Dexter is a .370 hitter with eight extra-base hits (five doubles, a triple, and two home runs) and 21 RBI, while his 21 career saves as a pitcher are a USM record. He set the program mark with his seventh save of the season April 9 against Plymouth State.
Down the road from Olszak and Dexter at Saint Joseph’s College, St. John’s Prep grad Zach Begin and Matt Demma are part of a Monk pitching staff that also includes alum Josh Partridge (2017). Begin has fanned 29 batters in 27 innings of work, 12 of which came in his collegiate debut against King’s (Pa.). Demma has recorded two wins in five outings and struck out 20 in 15.2 innings. Also playing for the Navs this summer is infielder Joey Murphy, whose .385 average ranks third on the Monks. Murphy has driven in 15 runs in 25 games and leads the GNAC with 26 runs scored and 19 stolen bases.
Pitcher Shayne Audet and Saugus native catcher/pitcher John Prentice will become the first two players ever to join the Navs from New England College and/or the New England Collegiate Conference. Audet has clinched six out of seven NECC Rookie of the Week honors, thanks to a 5-1 record, 2.48 ERA, and 63 strikeouts in 40 innings. He has fanned at least seven batters in all seven starts, reaching double digits twice. Prentice has a .333 average, three RBI, and eight runs scored in 12 games, while four of his eight hits have gone for extra bases.
In the NESCAC, two-time defending champion Tufts includes a Navigators trio as outfielder JP Knight and infielder/pitcher Elias Varinos follow their senior first baseman and reigning NESCAC Pitcher of the Year Nick Falkson (2016-17) to Fraser Field. Varinos is hitting .289 with 10 RBI, including five during a 3-for-4 day on April 8 against Keene State, while Knight has driven in seven runs with two of his five hits going for doubles. Falkson leads the NESCAC with four home runs and his Jumbos with 23 RBI in 21 games. Lynnfield’s Justin Foley returns to the North Shore from Bates, where he has totaled 24.1 innings of work and opened league play with a win against rival Bowdoin.
Back in the Little East, Peabody’s Bobby Tramondozzi (2016-17) also set his school’s career saves mark, having recorded six as a UMass Boston junior. Tramondozzi also sports a 3-0 record and miniscule 0.42 ERA for the nation’s No. 5 team. Players from four more schools in the LEC have suited up for the Navs over the last two years, including Keene State catcher Nate Rossi (2016-17), Rhode Island College outfielder Brad Douglas (2017), and Western Connecticut State infielder Billy Buscetto (2017). Douglas has a .347 average and 23 RBI in 24 games, and his 27 runs scored are tied for third-most in the league. Buscetto is hitting .287 with his team’s lone home run on the year.
Infielder Nick Fuhrmann (2017) has a .310 average, two home runs, and 21 RBI for Frostburg State. Other alumni playing D3 ball include Elmira’s Conor Bawiec (2016-17) and Stevens Institute of Technology’s Quinn DiPasquale (2016), who are ranked fourth and seventh, respectively, in the Empire 8 Conference in strikeouts. Brandeis ace Sean O’Neill (2016-17) has been limited to one outing as he struck out five in a season-opening start against Tramondozzi’s Beacons.
Cochise College will provide the Navigators with its top two hitters this summer in catcher Harrison Engstrom and outfielder George Sutherland. A Marblehead native, Engstrom leads the club with a .364 average and has driven in 21 runs, thanks to 10 doubles, a triple and a home run in 31 games. Sutherland has scored 39 runs, hit safely 46 times, driven in 29, and stolen seven bases.
Alex Brickman (2016-17) leads his St. Petersburg College team with 14 doubles, seven home runs, and 41 RBI, helping his average to .369. Pitcher Brian Van Belle and outfielder Alex Carballo, who will respectively head to Miami and Kennesaw State following this school year, returned to Broward College after seeing time with last summer’s Navs. Carballo is hitting .342 with 38 runs scored, 24 RBI, and 25 stolen bases, while Van Belle is 5-1.
Closer to home, pitcher Corey Imbriano (2017) and infielder Ryan Collins (2017) are back at Northern Essex Community College. Imbriano has a 4-0 record, 0.75 ERA, 39 strikeouts in just 24 innings, and is now committed to play at the University of Dayton. Collins has a .338 average and 13 RBI.