Last weekend, after yet another four-game sweep, Fairfield improved to 25-0 on the season. The Stags "applied" for a spot in the D1baseball and Baseball America top 25 with this tweet that got a lot of digital attention:
Dear @d1baseball and @BaseballAmerica ,— Fairfield Baseball (@Stags_Base) April 25, 2021
We would like to apply for a position in your Top-25 rankings. We would bring an unblemished 25-0 record and a No. 2 RPI ranking to your group.
Attached is our resume, we look forward to hearing from you.
They listened. For the first time in program history, the Stags find themselves in a national top-25 ranking, landing at No. 23 in Baseball America's latest poll.
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So, who are these guys?
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1. Well, for one, let's explore the mascot itself. The story goes that the first "mascot"of the school was the Fairfield Men in Red, given to the cross country team, the only sport at the time. When other sports came around to the small Connecticut college, Fairfield saw the need for an actual mascot and narrowed it down to two: Chanticleers or Stags. Obviously, we know how the vote went.
2. The Stags made program history a few times this season. The first came on April 9 in a doubleheader sweep of Rider. The Stags picked up the 1,000th win in program history, a 70-year ride that is experiencing the best season yet.
3. The 25-0 start is the best in program history. Dating back to last year, that's 26 wins in a row. On April 7, in a 17-6 victory over Quinnipiac, the Stags won their 11th in a row, breaking the mark for longest winning streak (10) in program history, set way back in 1971.
4. One. That's how many Fairfield Stags have made it to Major League Baseball. Keefe Cato was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 1979 MLB draft. He made his big- league debut in 1983 and did very well, picking up one win and posting a 2.45 ERA. He pitched one more year in the bigs.
5. Speaking of Cato, meet John Signore. Signore is currently 4-0, posting a 3.64 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with a nice 27:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 29.2 innings. That fourth win was No. 21 in his Stags career, tying him with Cato at No. 1 on the list. Signore has passed Keefe for the No. 2 spot in career strikeouts and heading into the weekend is 33 shy of becoming the Stags all-time leader for that stat as well.
6. Did someone say pitching? Fairfield's staff is one of the best in the land. As of April 28, the Stags have the lowest ERA in college baseball — tops in both Division I and II as a matter of fact — with a stunning 2.63 ERA. The Stags have four regular pitchers with ERA's below 2.00. Jake Noviello currently ranks in the top-15 in college baseball with a 1.64 ERA and 0.79 WHIP.
7. Did someone say WHIP? Why, what a coincidence: the Stags have the lowest walks and hits per inning pitched in college baseball at the DI level, an impressive 0.97. Michael Sansone finds himself in the top 25 with Noviello behind a 0.89 WHIP.
8. The Fairfield Stags claim a "masters" in scoring and a "bachelors" in moonshots. As a team, the Stags are top-5 in college baseball in batting average (.327), on-base percentage (.425) and slugging percentage (.519). Justin Guerrera leads the MAAC with 10 home runs, 33 runs scored and 36 RBI. The junior shortstop is also fifth in college baseball with an .804 slugging percentage. Mike Caruso, Fairfield's senior catcher, is tops in all of Division I with a .562 on-base percentage. Mike Handal, the starting right fielder, leads the MAAC with 40 hits and Dan Ryan, Fairfield's centerfielder, leads the MAAC with nine doubles.
9. The No. 23 ranking by Baseball America is the first in the 70-year program history. The Stags are currently No. 2 in RPI, sandwiched between Arkansas and Vanderbilt, widely viewed as the top two teams in the land. Now, while we don't know how the Stags will fare outside of their conference just yet, they have outscored their MAAC schedule 212-63. They aren't simply winning ball games, they are utterly dominating them.
10. So, what's left? The program record for wins in a season is 35, set in 2019. The Stags have eight games left on the regular-season schedule with a spot in the MAAC tournament seemingly a lock. In that 35-win season, they didn't qualify for the NCAA tournament. In fact, the only time they earned a spot in the bracket was 2016 when they lost both games, one to Texas Tech and one to DBU. The Stags are looking to lock up the fourth MAAC regular-season title in program history and the third since 2016.
11. Want to join in the fun? The Stags slogan is "Let's Ride" and their current jam is "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Feel free to sing (or scream) along with each victory.