Le Moyne Baseball Using Hot Bats and Shut Down Pitching to Propel Their 2018 Season

On the strength of a red hot offense and the strong arms of a very sound pitching staff, the Le Moyne College baseball team has tied the program’s best start through 25 games since making the move to Division II in 2011-12, which was the last time they had the same success to start.  The Dolphins 19-6 record has them ranked number two in the East Region and 22nd in the Nation.

Le Moyne is in the middle of a five game win streak at the moment and has had three separate win streaks of at least four games, their highest being six.  The Dolphins has only lost consecutive games one time this season, a three game skid with two losses to Shippensburg and the other to Jefferson.

The offense has been electric early on for the Dolphins to say the very least as they are tops in the Northeast-10 Conference in batting average, hits, home runs, runs scored, RBIs, slugging percentage, on base percentage and even walks.  The offensive consistency from this team is something that Coach Scott Cassidy (’98) focused on from the very beginning of the Dolphins preparation for this season.

“We’re just hoping we’re a little more consistent this year,” said coach Cassidy in an interview with ‘PhinsTV before the team left for their season opening road trip.  “Last year we got on base a little bit but had trouble driving guys in, had a few too many strikeouts for what we like so we are looking to put the ball in play and battle with two strikes.”

The Dolphins have done just that as they are tearing the cover off the ball and pacing the NE-10 Conference by hitting .317 and lead the conference with 280 hits, 190 RBIs, 218 runs scored in total with 52 doubles, 29 home runs and a slugging percentage at just under .500.  At the same time, they have yet to reach the halfway mark to their 369 team strikeouts at the plate just a season ago.

Le Moyne has received all sorts of contributions from up and down their lineup card from a variety of different spots in the batting order.  The well distributed offense has proved to be the answer in the early going for this Dolphins squad and has them poised for an explosive second half of the season.  The Dolphins returned their top six hitters from a year ago and have seen some new faces make their presence known early on.

Leading the team offensively is redshirt-junior infielder Ben Walsh who has started all 25 games so far for the Dolphins and has team highs in both batting average (.408) and RBIs (35), which leads the NE-10 Conference.  Walsh has already matched his hit total from a season ago with 40, which is pretty good considering before last season he had never had a collegiate at bat.

Not to be outdone is redshirt-junior catcher/infielder Andrew Taft, a newcomer to the Le Moyne line up this year after transferring in from Division I’s University of Buffalo, who has just been dialed in to start his Dolphins career.  Taft leads the team and the NE-10 Conference in hits (41), home runs (10), slugging percentage (.814), doubles (12) and runs scored (37) and is second on the team with a .402 batting average in 25 starts this season.

The Dolphins have four other hitters in their lineup that are batting over .315 on the season with Junior catcher/infielder Camillo Spinoso (.358), senior outfielder/first baseman Brian Cox (.349), sophomore infielder Nicholas Jacques (.322) and junior infielder Nick Place (.317).  Brian Cox is third on the team and in the conference with 38 hits and leads the conference with 11 stolen bases on the season.  Le Moyne has nine players with at least 15 hits apiece, seven of whom have at least 24.

Despite the gaudy offensive numbers, the pitching was what most of the buzz surrounding this team dealt with coming into this year.  The Dolphins returned a lot of talent on the mound this season, including the number one Division II MLB Draft prospect junior right hander Josiah Gray, who has seamlessly made the transition to a starting role for Le Moyne.

The 6’1” junior became a shutdown closer/relief pitcher last season for the Dolphins.  But after an incredible summer playing for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League where he was clocked at 97 MPH, coach Scott Cassidy decided to put Gray into the starting rotation this season to put his team in the best position to win, another decision that has paid off in droves for this team early on.

Through his first seven starts on the mound in 2018, Gray is 6-0 with a team leading 1.33 ERA in 47.1 IP with a team and NE-10 Conference high 54 strikeouts recorded compared to just 12 walks.  Gray has only given up seven earned runs in those seven starts, has two complete games (one for a shutout), and holds an impressive 10.3 K/9.  With a fastball that sustains in the mid to low 90s with flashes of 97, it is easy to see why this young man is on so many Major League radars even though he is just a junior.

Another Dolphins starter who has really had the strikeout pitch working this season is junior right hander Sam Walsh.  Two years ago Walsh was named NE-10 Rookie Pitcher of the Year and followed it up with another great year in 2017.  This season, although his ERA may be slightly higher than he wants, he is 3-0 in seven starts amassing 49 strikeouts in only 35.2 IP.  That gives him an outrageous 12.5 K/9 which sits him atop the conference in that category.

Out of the bullpen the Dolphins have used a closer-by-committee approach this season with senior right hander Alex Kubera, senior lefty Cody Barnes and freshman righty Sam Byrns combining to go 7-1 out of the pen with a combined 46 strikeouts and only 18 walks.  Kubera leads the team with three saves on the year with Barnes adding two as well.  The Dolphins pitching staff has six different pitchers with at least 14 strikeouts a piece, four of which have 30+.

Le Moyne has already begun its conference play and sits at 5-0 to kick it off, but now they are at the point of the season where the conference games will consume a majority of their remaining schedule, each one meaning more and more.  The Dolphins hope to be at home on Dick Rockwell Field on Saturday and Sunday, April 14th and 15th, for their first true home series of the 2018 season against the #7 team in the nation and NE-10 foe, the New Haven University Chargers.

The Sunday, April 15th, doubleheader between the Dolphins and the Chargers will be broadcast on PhinsTV/Radio so make sure to tune in for all the action on lemoynedolphins.com/watch.  Or make sure to come on down to support your Dolphins for what should be a great day of baseball.