UMB Victorious In Florida

Sophmore David Waters hit .450 with 11 RBIs 12 games during the team´s annual trip to Fort Myers, Florida

Sophmore David Waters hit .450 with 11 RBIs 12 games during the team´s annual trip to Fort Myers, Florida

Shun Hasegawa

The UMB baseball team (7-5, 0-0) returned from their annual spring break excursion to Fort Myers, Florida, where the Beacons played a total of nine games against teams mainly from the New England and New York areas, as well as Illinois College and Michigan’s Finlandia University.

The three-game losing streak at the opening delivered a blow to the Beacons, but they immediately bounced back to defeat Amherst College, 9-8, by scoring six in the ninth and rode the wave to win four straight. UMB split a doubleheader against Illinois College on Wednesday, March 16, before dropping a one-run games. Nevertheless, the Beacons trounced Finlandia University and Plymouth State University for a winning record in Sunshine State for the second straight year.

Sophomore outfielder David Waters led the team with a .450 batting average, was second with 14 RBIs and four home runs. Senior shortstop Darwin Gonzalez was .390 and got on base safely at .528 for the Beacons who averaged 10 runs per game.

Senior LHP Chuck Ritterson (1-0) held the opponents to a .230 batting average with a 2.16 ERA in 16.2 innings, including a seven-inning complete game against Finlandia against which he gave up four runs, two of them earned. Pitcher/1B Paul Tedesco went three innings out of the pen without giving up an earned run to pick up two victories, as the senior drove in 11 runs with four doubles, and two home runs. Sophomore pitcher/outfielder Pat Donovan, last year’s Little East Conference Rookie of the Year, struggled on the mound throughout the trip, finishing 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA, contributed to the team’s successes with his outstanding versatility, topping the team with five home runs, 16 RBIs, a .558 on base percentage and slugging .950.

Beacons head coach Brendan Eygabroat opened his first season at UMB after he spent four years at Suffolk University as an assistant coach for hitters and catchers. He was offered and accepted the position on February 25, two weeks before the season-opener, after his predecessor Mark Bettencourt left UMB on January 25 for the same title at his alma mater, Peabody High School.

“Attitude of the team is really positive right now,” Eygabroat commented a week before the trip. “They are really excited to have a coach. They had been running for a couple of weeks in a tough situation where they didn’t have a coach. We will work hard trying to get everything back up to the speed right away. [A team with 20 players] is smaller than usual. But instead of a big number of players, we have a lot of talent.”

During Eygabroat’s tenure at Suffolk, the Rams won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament championship in 2003 and advanced to the NCAA Regionals. Last summer, he coached in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the Mill City All-Americans working with the outfielders and hitters, which he recalls as a great experience.

As a player Eygabroat helped Mary Washington College in Virginia to grab a pair of NCAA Regional tournament appearances in 2001 and 1998. The captain of the Eagles also hit .341 in his senior season to be chosen as one of the Capital Athletic Conference First Teams.

“Brendan, [26,] identical to the majority of the UMass Boston head coaches, is young,” commented Pat Burns, Interim Director of Athletics and Recreation, in an e-mail interview with the Mass Media. “He has experience as a successful college baseball student-athlete, and has coached in a recognized college summer baseball league.”

In 2004, the Beacons missed an appearance in the Little East Conference tournament for the third straight season with an 18-20 overall record and a 4-10 conference mark which placed them at seventh among eight contenders in LEC. An explicit losing conference record compared with a not-too-bad overall record was caused by the extremely competitive mix at the LEC. A defending champion ranked No.1 in New England, Eastern Connecticut State University advanced to the final of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship last year only to lose to George Fox University by 6-3. UMB’s rivals in LEC also include a couple of other regionally ranked teams and No. 2 University of Southern Maine and No. 8 UMass Dartmouth. The Beacons lost five games out of six against the three institutions. The Little East Conference Pre-Season Baseball Poll conducted by coaches on March 10 predicted another tough season for UMB by placing it at seventh with 13 points, as Eastern Connecticut and Southern Maine topped with sixty points, receiving four first-place votes apiece.

Bettencourt coached UMB for six seasons until last year, with a 93-129 overall record.

Since the Beacons don’t have a baseball field on campus, they are scheduled to practice and play games at neighboring Boston College High School, according to Burns. “The weather, field conditions, and the program needs for BC High baseball will determine if this occurs in 2005.” He said, “If not, the team will travel where necessary to practice and play games.”

The Beacons’ current nomadic status is nothing new for Eygabroat who experienced the same situation at Suffolk. “If you don’t have your own home field, you have to be really flexible doing different things,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to be a big issue. These guys are pretty focused. They don’t worry too much about where we are going to play.”

UMB will play its first home game against Eastern Nazarene College at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, the venue for the contest was not decided as of Monday, March 21.