Defending Champs Take Field for First Time

Justin Esquerra made an immediate impact in the middle of the Saints' lineup last season
Feb. 13, 2015

Watch This Weekend's Games  | Gametracker

For the first time in 15 years, the Siena baseball team opens play this weekend at Central Florida with a big target on its back. The Saints are coming off their first MAAC title since 1999, a season that culminated with the program's first ever NCAA victory.

"I think we have reason to be optimistic," Siena coach Tony Rossi said. "We have a solid group of returnees on the mound, offense and defense. There's a lot to look forward to."

Here's 25 Things to Know About the Saints Heading Into 2015 (in 140 characters or fewer)

  • Coach Rossi is the second longest tenured coach in the nation (Augie Garrido Texas) and the longest at the same institution

  • Rossi is the winningest MAAC coach in any sport...ever. He earned his 800th victory in last year's MAAC Championship

  • The Saints will play their first 17 games on the road. Siena played its first 34 games on the road last year.

  • Senior ace Ed Lewicki will miss the Saints' Opening Weekend (appendicitis)

  • Lewicki is coming off a fine summer in the Perfect Game League where he was rated as having the best curve ball in the league

  • Junior Bryan Goossens will get the ball on Opening Night. Goossens pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League over the summer

  • Lewicki and Goossens combined to throw over 158 innings last season as regulars in the weekend rotation

  • The strength of the staff last year was the bullpen. All-time saves leader Neil Fryer is gone, but Matt Quintana returns

  • Quintana was named Most Valuable Pitcher in the Future's League after a standout summer on Martha's Vineyard

  • Sophomores Taylor Ahearn and Chris Amorosi figure to be impact pitchers this season

  • Ahearn and Amorosi started the two MAAC Championship games last season and combined to allow 1 run in 10 innings

  • Senior Rick Morales is coming off an injury-plagued season, but could make a major impact. He's starting Saturday.

  • The Saints have five catchers who will vie for playing time

  • Dave Hoffmann is the Opening Day starter behind the plate. He had a great summer in the Virginia Valley League

  • Hoffmann's RBI triple in the 8th inning of Siena's NCAA Tournament game at national seed TCU tied the game

  • Senior co-captain Justin Esquerra will start at third base. Esquerra led the Saints with 29 RBI last season

  • Junior Tyler Martis is the starting short stop. Martis has already played in 117 games, making 116 starts

  • Siena set a program record with 67 double plays turned last season

  • Senior Brian Fay was a DH for most of last season, but he'll again compete for the starting job at first base

  • Dan Swain was the 2014 MAAC Rookie of the Year. Swain hit .293 w/ 27 RBI and 12 SB as a freshman

  • Swain was named a Perfect Game All-American over the summer. He is the everyday starter in centerfield

  • The other two outfield positions are open with highly touted JC transfer Fred Smart a likely starter

  • MAAC play commences at home against Rider on March 21 (an optimistic date). Last year's home opening series was moved to NYIT

  • The Saints play 3-game series w/ nine of the 11 conference teams (all but Marist and Iona). Siena was 17-7 in conference in 2014.

  • Manhattan will host the MAAC Championships May 20-24 at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill. Siena won the title there in 1999.