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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Going Deep

The Beacon baseball offense is looking for a revival in 2008, and that rebirth begins on Friday as they take on Simpson College in Phoenix, AZ. One thing Coach Brendan Eygrabroat won’t have is a shortage of options, as the roster appears to very deep thanks to a plentiful recruiting class.

The Beacons are not going with a set-in-stone lineup early in the season, as competition for spots has been tight throughout a four-week fall ball season and early spring seasons. With the team’s top four hitters in terms of batting average (Jaime Soto, Bryan Curran, Bob Kniffen and Sean Ketterer) graduated, the Beacons won’t be relying on last year’s statistics to get them through a tough Little East schedule.

Catching will undoubtedly be a position of production, with three players fighting for playing time and each offering something unique to the backstop spot. Eric Salvador, in addition to being a crossword enthusiast, is the most well-rounded receiver and has playoff experience. The transfer from Massasoit Community College played in the junior college World Series last year, in addition to racking up personal accolades. “He was a third-team junior college All-American last year who just flat out hits,” Eygabroat said. “He’s going to be a big part of our success this year.”

Danny Arenas is another option behind the plate, with the most power on team. Arenas will also see time at first base for the Beacons this year. The best defensive catcher may be Tim Fontaine, whose lasers down to second base gunning down runners may be enough to earn him a spot in the lineup to prove his offensive skill.

The infield produces a lot of power and should have a high on-base percentage, as the infielders are a disciplined offensive group. Connor Reinfurt will likely get the first crack at first base, as he has excellent power. Eygabroat has two viable options at second base in incumbent starter Ryan Oshima and junior transfer Casey Rice. The position will be won by whoever ends up hitting well in the first week of Arizona.

The starting shortstop appears to be Ryan Walsh, a transfer from Franklin Pierce College. Walsh led the team in home runs during the Blue/Gray inter squad scrimmage with three bombs in only five games. “He really opened some eyes with both his average and the long ball,” Eygabroat said. “He should be someone who really helps us offensively.”

Third base could be a tense battle as well, with Mike Dorval and Stephen Garcia both providing good pop with solid defense at the hot corner. Both Dorval and Garcia are returning Beacons, although Dorval missed fall ball due to reconstructive surgery on his throwing arm.

One big question mark is where G.P. O’Kane will fit into the lineup, whether it be the designated hitter or in the middle infield. O’Kane is a transfer from Western Connecticut State University that easily has pro-ball strength and versatility to play multiple positions.

The outfield appears to be a clouded picture that will assuredly clear up after the games in Phoenix, as there are currently nine outfielders on the roster. Tom Michael will be the starter in right field, while senior captain Chris Oram will get the first shot in left field. Jake Chastain will likely be the first man in center field for the Beacons, but Matt Reich will be available to play in that spot if Chastain falters.

Michael hit well in the fall and is an excellent shape. Oram missed the fall season with a fractured shin but has made up lost time with a sharp spring, and will be 100% healthy for the first game.

Chastain is likely the top defensive outfielder on the squad and his speed should offer the Beacons an assortment of options off the bench. Reich is a talented outfielder that has played against excellent competition at his recent collegiate stops, which included a year at UNC-Pembroke.

Junior Patrick McCarthy is another outfielder with a chance to earn time at the corner outfield spots, and Drew Tambling’s claim as the fastest Beacon should help him get into the lineup on occasion.

In previous years, the Beacons depended on the guys who were labeled the “starters.” If and when those hitters faltered, the bench wasn’t deep enough to provide a spark to those batters. “Basically, [we need to] find a way to get the best nine hitters in the line up because offensively, we’ve kind of under achieved the last couple years,” Eygabroat said.

In the end, it’s all about performance. Last year is history, and these Beacons can’t wait to get on the field to claim their spots in the lineup and the win column. “I’m excited about Arizona,” Eygabroat said. “A lot of questions will be answered once we get on the field.”

The Beacons are deep, and the competition will only make each player better and more aggressive. These hitters are locked and loaded, looking for a 2008 filled with offensive fireworks.