The Wheaton College baseball team has been ranked first overall in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Preseason Poll. The Lyons compiled 269 points, finishing two points higher than St. Thomas (Minn.) and six points ahead of SUNY-Cortland.
Last season, Wheaton topped both St. Thomas (Minn.) and SUNY-Cortland, respectively, to advance to the NCAA Division III College World Series National Championship. The Lyons eventually fell to then-no.1 ranked Marietta College in the national championship game. Marietta checks in at no.5 overall in the 2013 preseason poll behind Birmingham Southern (Ala.).
Wheaton finished the 2012 season with a 41-11 record, the second most wins in program history, and a 16-2 mark in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). The Lyons return their top three hitters from a year ago in junior Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton), sophomore Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) and classmate Tyler Contillo (Montville, Conn./Montville). Ryan posted a .384 batting average, a .402 on-base percentage and a .531 slugging percentage. Ryan led the team in batting average and slugging percentage wile De la Crus hit .376/..443/.455 and Contillo compiled a .360/.500/.360 slash line at the plate.
On the hill, senior Frank Hoolbrook (Middletown, R.I./Portsmouth Abbey School) returns to lead the Wheaton pitching staff which ranked tenth overall, nationally, in earned run average (ERA) last spring (2.80). Holbrook went 10-0 overall in 84.2 innings pitched, struck out 52 batters and held opponents to a .229 batting average. Junior Alec Palioca (Wrentham, Mass./King Phillip Regional) posted a 1.88 ERA, a 9-1 record, 44 strikeouts and limited the opposition to a .246 batting average.
Sophomore closer Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Avon Old Farms School) will control the backend up the bullpen for the Lyons after finishing the 2012 season ranked no.1 overall in the nation in saves with 14. In 26.2 innings pitched, Grant struck out 18 batters and held opponents to a .200 batting average in 24 appearances.
As a team, Wheaton ranked seventh in the country in hits (555), tenth in ERA and 27th overall in runs scored (330). Ryan’s 86 hits last year were good enough for second overall in the country while Holbrook check in at ninth overall in ERA for the season.
The Lyons open up their 2013 season on Saturday, March 2 against St. Joseph’s (Long Island) at 11:00 a.m. in Patchogue, N.Y.