HANOVER, N.H. — Several publications have released their preseason picks for the Ivy League baseball standings, and the consensus is that Dartmouth will at the very least finish atop the Rolfe Division for a sixth straight season. Baseball America took it one step further and predicted the Big Green will win the conference crown and return to the NCAA Regionals for the third time in the past five years.
Dartmouth also had a number of players receive preseason accolades, most notably junior first baseman Dustin Selzer who was pegged as the Ivy Preseason Player of the Year by both Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game. The 6-3, 215-pound slugger hit .324 last year while belting five home runs and driving in a league-best 41 runs, plus walked more times (19) than he struck out (17) to earn first-team All-Ivy honors. In the field, Selzer proved to be sure-handed in committing just one error.
Although head coach Bob Whalen — now in his 24th season in Hanover — will not have veterans Joe Sclafani and Chris O’Dowd at his disposal after they were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft last June, the Big Green do return five positional starters from a lineup that led the league in scoring in conference play a year ago. Joining Selzer are senior outfielder/DH Ennis Coble, junior outfielder Jeff Keller, sophomore second baseman Thomas Roulis and sophomore third baseman Nick Lombardi.
Coble, a preseason All-Ivy Second Team pick by College Sports Madness (CSM), is a three-year starter with a career .329 batting average and on-base percentage of .419. As a sophomore in 2011, he led the Ivy League with 40 RBIs while batting .361. Like Coble, Keller was named to the preseason All-Ivy Second Team by CSM after enjoying a fine sophomore campaign, tying Selzer for the team lead with five home runs while hitting .352 with 26 RBIs.
After an all-star performance during the summer in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, Roulis has received recognition as one of the Ivy League’s top draft prospects for 2014 by both Baseball America and Perfect Game. As a rookie last year the switch hitter hit .257 with 32 RBIs, second only to Selzer among the Big Green batters. Lombardi was a terrific defender as a freshman, playing a flawless third base in Ivy League play while showing power potential at the plate.
Projected to take over in center field for the graduated Jake Carlson, who led the league with a .397 average in 2012, is freshman Nick Ruppert (La Mesa, Calif.). He will be challenged by a two-sport athlete in sophomore Bo Patterson, who has already started seven games at wide receiver on the gridiron.
Should Coble play in left field, where junior Ryan Toimil is also vying for time, a freshman would likely fill the designated hitter slot in Joe Purritano (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.), who was named the second-best newcomer in the Ivy League by Baseball America. Sophomore Matt Parisi and freshman Trent Goodrich (Chandler, Ariz.) are competing at shortstop, as are the trio of senior Chad Piersma, sophomore Matt MacDowell and freshman Adam Gauthier (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) behind the plate.
Dartmouth is hardly all about offense, however, as the entire pitching rotation returns, including senior right-hander Cole Sulser, a first-team All-Ivy selection in 2011. Sulser sat out the 2012 season, however, after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is now back to full strength and was named to Perfect Game’s preseason All-Ivy team.
The rest of the weekend rotation will be comprised of left-handers in senior Kyle Hunter (career 10-7, 4.28 ERA in 178.2 innings), junior Mitch Horacek (47 strikeouts, 10 walks in 54.1 innings as All-Ivy honorable mention in 2012) and either senior Michael Johnson (career 8-2, 4.73 ERA in 102.2 innings) or sophomore Adam Frank (4-1, 4.47 ERA, All-Ivy honorable mention as a rookie).
The bullpen will be anchored by sophomore right-hander Thomas Olson, who was chosen as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball last year after posting a 1.69 ERA and six saves over 37.1 innings. A preseason All-Ivy Second Team selection by CSM, Olson was also picked for the preseason watch list for the Stopper of the Year Award. Junior right-hander Mike Dodakian is a reliable, veteran arm in the bullpen with a career 4.58 ERA and four saves in 53 innings. Two more right-handers in junior Louis Concato (led the team in ERA last year) and sophomore Chris England will be swingmen capable of starting or relieving. Coach Whalen also brought in three more hurlers, including Sulser’s younger brother Beau, to bolster the staff.
Dartmouth opens its 2013 season at the Dairy Queen Classic hosted by the University of Minnesota at the Metrodome on March 1-3. The Big Green will play the host Golden Gophers in the opener on Friday, March 1 at 7:35 p.m. (EST) before squaring off against Northern Illinois and Utah the next two days, respectively.