Baseball Opens Season at Minnesota's Dairy Queen Classic
Opponents: Minnesota (5-3), Northern Illinois (1-7), Utah (4-3)
Location: The Metrodome (63,669), Minneapolis, Minn.
First pitches: 7:35 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. Sunday (all times Eastern)
Series Records: First meeting against all three schools
Tournament Information (including links for video, audio and stats)
Complete Game Notes
• Dartmouth begins its 141st season of varsity baseball at the Dairy Queen Classic, beginning with host Minnesota. The Big Green will be playing their first game ever against all three schools at the tournament.
• Head coach Bob Whalen enters his 24th season with an overall record of 457-444-1, including last year’s 24-18 mark. In 2010, he surpassed former big league pitcher Jeff Tesreau as the Big Green’s all-time winningest coach. Tesreau coached Dartmouth for 28 seasons (1919-46).
• Dartmouth is 11-12 in the first game of the season under Whalen, having lost at 13th-ranked LSU last year, 8-4. The last opening-game victory came three years ago when the Green defeated Wright State in Charlottesville, Va., on a walk-off double for a 3-2 win.
• Last year the Big Green won their fifth straight Rolfe Division title with a 14-6 mark, but fell to Cornell in the best-of-three Ivy Championship Series held at the Big Red’s Hoy Field, keeping Dartmouth from winning a third Ivy Championship in the past four seasons.
• Two years ago Dartmouth set a school record with 30 victories against just 12 defeats. It was the first time an Ivy team had reached 30 since Harvard in 1998 and just the seventh of eight times (Cornell did it last year) by any league school.
• A total of eight players from last year’s team earned All-Ivy honors, six of whom return this season. First baseman Dustin Selzer and DH Ennis Coble were chosen for the first team, reliever Thomas Olson was on the second team, and starting pitchers Adam Frank and Mitch Horacek, as well as outfielder Jeff Keller, received honorable mention.
• Two Big Green players were selected in the MLB Draft last June — shortstop Joe Sclafani ’12 (14th round by the Houston Astros) and catcher Chris O’Dowd ’13 (23rd round by the San Diego Padres).
• While this won’t come into play for a few more weeks, the Big Green have posted the second-best home record over the past four seasons, going 55-7 since Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park was renovated.
Quick Scout of Minnesota
• The Golden Gophers won their opener at second-ranked UCLA before dropping the next two, then took three of four from Western Michigan last weekend. On Wednesday, they earned their fifth win in a 4-2 victory over a team Dartmouth will play in Florida — North Dakota State.
• Shortstop Michael Handel (.433/.469/.700) leads the Minnesota offense that is hitting .276 as a team and averaging 5.25 runs per game.
• Aside from two blowouts against the Bruins, the Gopher pitching staff has been superb, allowing no more than two runs in any of the other five games.
• While the team fielding percentage is solid at .970, Minnesota was victimized by a number of unearned runs against UCLA.
Quick Scout of Northern Illinois
• The Huskies got off the schneid after dropping their first six games when they knocked off Nevada, 12-4, in the third game of a four-game set.
• The offense has been held in check in the early going with just a .233 average and more than one strikeout per four at-bats, but three players — led by first baseman Jeff Zimmerman at .357 — are hitting above .300.
• The NIU pitchers have taken some lumps thus far with a combined 7.36 ERA, walking as many batters as they have struck out (40) in 68 innings.
• In the field, the Huskies have been terrific with just three errors and throwing out five of 11 would-be base stealers.
Quick Scout of Utah
• Since losing two of three at Loyola Marymount to open the season, the Utes won three of four at UC Davis while scoring at least seven runs in each of those four contests.
• Two new players to the roster are providing the biggest thump in the lineup in juco transfer T.J. Bennett and freshman catcher A.J. Young, both of whom are hitting over .400 with two homers.
• Utah has more of a crafty staff with a 4.80 ERA while striking out just 29 batters in 60 innings with 22 walks.
• The defense has been a bit shaky with nearly two errors per game to date (13 in seven contests).
Probable Starting Pitchers
• Senior RHP Cole Sulser (4-1, 2.59 ERA in 2011) gets the nod on opening day against Minnesota in his first pitching appearance for the Big Green in over 22 months. On Saturday, senior LHP Kyle Hunter (3-4, 5.76 in 2012) is poised to regain the form of his first two seasons when he went 7-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 124 innings. Another southpaw in senior LHP Michael Johnson (4-1, 4.37), who has struck out 5.8 batters per nine innings in over 100 career innings, will take on the Utes.
• Opposing the Big Green in the season opener will be Gopher ace LHP Tom Windle (1-0, 0.00 ERA) who has not allowed a run in 9.2 innings with seven strikeouts this season.
• Northern Illinois will send RHP Eli Anderson (1-1, 3.75) to toe the slab on Saturday. The junior has been by far the Huskies most effective starter, yielding five runs on 12 hits in 12 innings.
• On Sunday, Utah will call upon RHP Joe Pond (1-1, 10.38), who won his last start by going five frames while allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts against UC Davis.
What’s Up Next
Dartmouth has a week and a half off before heading to Florida for spring break with 10 games scheduled in just eight days, including a three-game series with Bradley.
Preseason Player of the Year
Since Baseball America had selected 2012 graduate as its Preseason Ivy Player of the Year the last three years, it must have decided a Big Green player wasn’t worthy of the honor this year. Not so for Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game as the two organizations called on the number of junior (though he is wearing his third uniform number in as many seasons in Hanover). The first baseman led the Ivy League with 41 RBIs last year, plus hit .324 with five homers and more walks (19) than strikeouts (17). He also did a fine job in the field, leading the loop’s first sackers in fielding percentage while committing just one error.
Other Preseason Honors
Dartmouth is the consensus pick to win the Rolfe Division in the Ivy League for a sixth consecutive year, with Baseball America predicting the Big Green will return to an NCAA Regional for the third time in five years. Aside from ’s selections for Preseason Player of the Year, here are some other individual honors from the preseason:
• — Preseason All-Ivy First Team (CollegeSportsMadness.com)
• — Ivy Player to Watch (Collegiate Baseball)
• — Preseason All-Ivy Second Team (CollegeSportsMadness.com)
• — Ivy Player to Watch (Collegiate Baseball); Preseason All-Ivy Second Team (CollegeSportsMadness.com)
• Joe Purritano — Rated second-best newcomer to the Ivy League (Baseball America)
• Thomas Roulis — Ivy Player to Watch (Collegiate Baseball); Preseason All-Ivy Second Team (CollegeSportsMadness.com)
• — Preseason All-Ivy First Team (CollegeSportsMadness.com, Perfect Game)
• — Ivy Player to Watch (Collegiate Baseball); Preseason All-Ivy (Perfect Game)
Big Green Are Road Warriors ...
As is custom for Dartmouth, it will begin the season on the road for most of March. The first 13 games — and 18 of the first 19 — will be played away from Hanover. The home schedule begins on March 27 against Siena, the third straight year the Big Green will play their earliest home game ever.
... But Love the Homestead
Dartmouth enters the 2013 season with a 55-7 record (.887) at its home venue, Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park, the second-best record over the past four seasons (trailing only Manhattan). Last year the Big Green went 13-2 the games they hosted and stretched their home win streak to 28 games before Columbia ended it.
Not Settling for Spares
Well, this isn’t bowling, but if there is one thing the Big Green pitching staff does, it throws strikes. For the past four years, the staff has been one of the stingiest in the country in terms of issuing free passes. In both 2009 and 2010, the Big Green hurlers walked fewer batters per nine innings than any other Division I team. Although they didn’t lead the country in the category either of the last two years, they did still rank among the top 10, placing third in 2011 at 2.24 behind only Florida (1.82) and Dayton (2.18), then eighth last season at 2.33.
Going for 6th Straight Rolfe Title
Dartmouth has won five straight Rolfe Division titles, the second longest streak for any team in either division in the Ivy League since divisions were instituted 20 years ago. Princeton won nine straight Gehrig Division crowns from 1996-2004 and 11 total in the 20 seasons. The Big Green are tied with Harvard with eight Rolfe titles, with all eight for Dartmouth coming in the last 13 years.
If there is a silver lining to the Tommy John surgery that senior RHP underwent two years ago is that he is now able to play his final season with his younger brother, RHP Beau Sulser, who is a freshman at Dartmouth this year. They are the first set of brothers to play for the Big Green at the same time since the 2007-08 seasons when LHPs Russell and Robert Young shared the field. Will the Sulsers duplicate the feat of that duo and both get drafted as well?
The Big Green feature a two-sport athlete on their roster in sophomore Bo Patterson. A wide receiver on the Dartmouth football team, Patterson worked his way into the starting lineup on the gridiron as a freshman and finished his rookie campaign leading the team in receiving yards (301) and second in receptions (24) with a pair of touchdowns. This past season, he battled through some injuries but managed to play in seven games, hauling in six passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.