North Adams, MA- The MCLA Baseball program saw an impressive turnaround last season as they won 12 games compared to just four in head coach Mike Gladu's first season at the helm. Gladu is hopeful that the 2018 Trailblazers can continue their forward progress and become a contender in the MASCAC. MCLA will open their season on Saturday in Auburndale, Florida kicking off a 9 game southern swing.
The Trailblazers are coming off a 12-18 mark from 2017, Gladu's second season, which included a 6-8 mark in the MASCAC. MCLA returns a host of key players and have added some depth as they hope to make strides beginning this weekend. The Trailblazers have room for improvement both offensively and off the mound if they want to contend. Here is a look at the 2018 Trailblazer baseball program:
Off the mound-
MCLA returns eight hurlers from last season including three of their top four starters from last season. The Trailblazers had a team ERA of 7.38 last season and will need to improve to contend in the conference. Leading the staff in 2018 should be right hander Liam Nolan. The senior captain started 8 games last season and tossed a team best 40.1 innings and 44 strikeouts. Junior Brendan Kelly and Sophomore Schuyler Robinson return as they combined for 11 starts a year ago. Both pitchers had some control issues as they combined for 43 walks in 39.1 innings pitched.
Left hander Bobby New should see plenty of action again in 2018. He took the mound in 14 games last season and posted a 5.72 ERA while leading the team with 3 wins. Senior Frank Rickus returns out of the bullpen as he appeared in 10 games and recorded 12 strikeouts in his 14.2 innings of work.
Other Trailblazers looking to make an impact on the mound in 2018 are sophomores Cody Krosier, Mark Morel, and Shawn James. All three were dealing with injuries last season and should add depth to the staff. Also returning are Sam Haaf and Brody Farnum. The duo saw action in 14 games last season with Farnum logging two starts for MCLA.
MCLA on Offense-
While the Trailblazers need to lower their ERA, they also can improve offensively. In 2017, the Trailblazers hit just .259 on the season while opponents hit at a .305 clip. The Trailblazers lost three of their top four hitters a season ago and will look to their senior class for some punch.
Leading the way should be seniors Brett LaBonte, Billy Pulasky, and Joe Dimassimo. The trio should all bat in the middle of the lineup and they accounted for 46 RBI's a season ago. Dimassimo led the team with 19 RBI's and belted the lone MCLA homer last season. LaBonte and Pulasky both were two of the better clutch hitters on the squad and will look to repeat in 2018. All three players will see time in the infield this season.
MCLA also returns second team All MASCAC selection Christian Seariac. The left handed batter checked in at .275 during his freshman season, but also drew a team best 15 walks and scored a team high 22 runs. His versatility makes him a threat on offense for the Trailblazers.
Seariac should start in the outfield along with Joe Toledo, who appeared in 29 games last season and batting .261. Others competing for time in the outfield will be sophomore Ben Durland and Logan Rumbolt.
Durland and Rumbolt each saw plenty of action last season and will be looking to take the next step for MCLA. Others looking for an opportunity to make an impact are first year player Jake Ferrara and transfer Jeff Bink. Both should see ample opportunities in the infield and at the plate.
Behind the plate, MCLA returns senior Nick DiSanti, along with junior Antonio Archina and senior Joe Buonemani. DiSanti appeared in 22 games last season while Archina saw action in 19 of them. Buonemani saw limited time with 9 appearances for MCLA.
The Trailblazers will begin the season on Saturday, March 10th in the sunshine state with a doubleheader against Anderson (Ind) in the opening game of the RussMatt Invitational. MCLA will also challenge Illinois Tech, Cazenovia, Colby-Sawyer, and Maine Farmington down south before returning to New England.
After a twelve day layoff, MCLA opens the northern slate at Springfield College on March 28th. The home and MASCAC opener is set to follow on Friday, March 30th when MCLA hosts Framingham State at 2pm. That twinbill kicks off a stretch where MCLA plays six of seven at the Zavattaro Athletics Complex. After playing the Rams, the Trailblazers head to Anna Maria (4/4) for a nine inning game before hosting back to back doubleheaders on the 7th and 8th against Fitchburg State and Southern Vermont.
After the homestand, MCLA faces a tough challenge with seven of their next ten games on the road. Road tilts at Union (NY) and a conference DH with Mass. Maritime start the stretch. MCLA will play Bridgewater State at home on the 16th in another MASCAC double dip while hosting Skidmore on the 17th before rounding out the stretch with games at Williams (4/18), Worcester State (DH on 4/21), and Lyndon State (4/23).
The Trailblazers return home on the 24th to host Westfield State in a 2pm twinbill before hosting Elms the following day. MCLA rounds out MASCAC play at Salem State on the 28th before hosting Senior Day on the 29th against Lasell in a doubleheader.
The MASCAC playoffs kick off on Thursday, May 3rd.