Baseball team posts worst record in program history

by Tyler Deffebach / Beacon Correspondent • April 11, 2013

The baseball team currently has its worst record in program history.
Courtney Tharp / Beacon Archive
The baseball team currently has its worst record in program history.
Courtney Tharp / Beacon Archive

Baseball head coach Dave Hanley said he has been disappointed with his team’s subpar effort this season as the Lions find themselves with the worst record in the program’s history.

Emerson, currently 1-20 overall and 1-7 in conference play, must win the rest of its six GNAC games to solidify a playoff berth.

After losing its first nine games, then having its next 10 games postponed due to weather and related field conditions, Emerson has lost 11 of its last 12 games, posting the program’s worst record in its history.

Emerson ranks last in the GNAC in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, runs scored, total runs allowed, strikeouts, and total fielding errors.

Head coach Dave Hanley, who brought the team back from the club level in 2007, said it has significantly underperformed this year.

“We are not hitting the ball, we are not fielding the ball, and we have not been able to pitch consistently,” Hanley said. “Those are the three main parts of the game, and we are not doing any of those parts well. It’s just a lack of talent on our team.”

Hanley said the Lions only have one batter hitting above a .300 average—freshman Zach Dean at .317—and cites the team is lacking a batter who has more than nine runs batted in as a main reason why the team has struggled on offense.

Hanley attributed these issues to a younger and smaller lineup.

“The bottom line is we brought on 12 new guys and only have four starters that came back,” Hanley said. “But even the guys that have come back, no one has played up to their potential.”

Hanley pointed out some positives from this season — including freshman Jack Capotorto’s recent pitching performance, who has a team-best 3.38 ERA, and freshman James Sullivan, who leads the team in hits and stolen bases — but said favorable qualities this season have been limited.

“We have three starters out on the field with a batting average under .100,” Hanley said. “We just don’t have anyone we can turn to to get consistent clutch hitting.”

Since entering the GNAC in 2007, the baseball team has consistently ranked a playoff team every season within conference, including a program-best fourth finish in the 2010 season.

Last season, the Lions finished sixth in the GNAC, with a 12-26 overall record and 6-10 in conference play. The team ranked third in fewest errors, with 69 total errors in 38 games played, and ranked fifth in most offensive categories including runs scored, hits, runs batted in, and stolen bases.

Julian Rifkind, a sophomore pitcher, said the team is not discouraged, and will continue to try to improve its standings in the GNAC for the remainder of the season.

“I think the best thing to do right now is just go one game at a time, and put the start of the season behind us,” said the journalism major. “Because in all honesty, I’d rather not win a single out-of-conference game, but make the playoffs with a 6-10 record like we did last season.”

Rifkind, who pitched 27.2 innings last year with a 4.55 ERA, has pitched 15 innings so far this season, with an ERA of 16.80, according to GNAC statistics.

“Individually, I think I could be pitching a lot better,” Rifkind said. “I am probably the biggest underachiever right now.”

Rifkind also added that he thinks the team management is looking to the future and building on any small positives within the season.

“I think the coaching staff is trying as hard as they can,” Rifkind said. “No one on the team, as a collective unit, would say that we are playing at our potential, and they are doing the best with what they have.”

Next season, the baseball team, along with all Emerson varsity sports, will transfer into the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, which includes some of the top-ranked baseball teams in the country. Hanley said that a talented incoming class will assist in the transition.

“Recruiting is the name of the game,” Hanley said. “We are in the process of recruiting some kids that can step right in and immediately contribute, along with a core group of players that can recover from this year and play to their normal abilities.”

The Lions’ next game is scheduled to be a key double header against Anna Maria College on April 13.