Wheaton (Mass.) named preseason No. 1 in Collegiate Baseball poll
NORTON, Mass. -- Wheaton (Mass.) has been ranked first in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper 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 and Cortland, respectively, to advance to the Division III College World Series National Championship. The Lyons eventually fell to then-No.1 Marietta in the national championship game. Marietta checks in at No. 5 overall in the 2013 preseason poll behind Birmingham Southern.
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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 senior Sean Ryan, sophomore Apolinar De la Cruz and classmate Tyler Contillo. 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 while De la Cruz hit .376/.443/.455 and Contillo compiled a .360/.500/.360 slash line at the plate.
On the hill, senior Frank Holbrook returns to lead the Wheaton pitching staff, which ranked 10th 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 posted a 1.88 ERA, a 9-1 record, 44 strikeouts and limited the opposition to a .246 batting average.
Junior closer Ryan Grant will control the backend up the bullpen for the Lyons after finishing the 2012 season ranked No. 1 in the nation with 14 saves. 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), 10th 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 checked in at ninth overall in ERA for the season.