The Husson University baseball team has a nice luxury.
Not only do they have a quality one-two punch at the top of the pitching rotation, their third starter was chosen the Most Valuable Player of the North Eastern Athletic Conference East Division Tournament and they have a valuable all-purpose righthander who can start or relieve.
The top two starters are senior lefthander Ryan Arsenault of Portland, who has a 7-3 record and a 2.88 earned run average, and junior righthander Nate Adams of Frankfort (7-3, 2.06). Arsenault has six complete games in 11 starts and Adams has eight in 11.
Senior rigthander Dan Beatham of Dexter was the MVP of the NEAC tournament after pitching a six-hitter in the 3-1 championship game win over Castleton State. The No. 3 starter is 5-2 with a 3.33 ERA.
Bangor senior righty Kyle Leeman is the jack-of-all-trades and is sporting a 4-3 record with a 3.14 ERA. He also has a save.
“We’ve never had a pitching staff this deep,” said Husson senior shortstop and tri-captain Ethan Guerette. “It’s nice. They keep us in every game and that takes a lot of pressure off the hitters.”
“Ryan and Nate have been solid all year and Dan has stepped up huge. He has always been one of our hardest throwers but, this year, he has been able to hit his spots,” said junior left fielder and tri-captain Kyle Vanidestine. “He showed that in the championship game. And Kyle has done really well every time he has come in.”
“Having three guys who can come out and shut teams down is really exciting. We don’t have to rely on just one or two guys,” said Husson coach Jason Harvey. “And Kyle can pitch in any situation, long relief, short relief or starter. He has a lot of versatility and is a very competitive pitcher who likes the ball in big games.”
The four pitchers have different attributes.
“Ryan is a crafty lefty,” said Harvey. “He isn’t going to blow the ball by you but he can pop the ball when he wants to. He mixes his speeds very well and you never know what he’s going to throw in any count.”
Arsenault said he, “just tries to get ahead of hitters and pitch to contact. It has worked for me all season.”
Arsenault added that he has developed a better changeup by working on it last summer and during the school year.
“This is the most comfortable I have ever been throwing a changeup,” said Arsenault, who also has a fastball and curve.
Adams, according to Harvey, has benefited from the addition of a cutter (cut fastball) to his repertoire, which also includes a fastball, curve and changeup.
“The cutter has been his out pitch for pretty much the whole season,” said Harvey. “He pounds the strike zone and gets a lot of ground balls. He really trusts his defense.”
“I feel like I’ve pitched pretty well after the first game, in which I didn’t pitch too well. I’ve been pretty consistent. The cutter has been really successful for me.”
Harvey said Beatham has developed a changeup and curve which have been crucial in his improvement.
“That’s something he didn’t have (previously),” said Harvey. “When he has his off-speed stuff working, like he did last weekend, he’s very good.”
“When I was in the closer’s role, I just threw my fastball. But in a starter’s role, I had to develop a curve and changeup,” said Beatham. “Those two pitches have helped me a lot. And they have boosted my confidence.”
Leeman said this has been his best season although he began the season with a little arm trouble.
But he is fine now and he has benefited from a slider that has “gotten a lot better. I can throw it for a strike pretty much when I want to now.”
He also has a fastball and changeup.
He would prefer to start than be the closer but he said he likes the fact a closer can come in and “give it my all for one inning instead of having to pace myself.”
The pitchers said they have been blessed by having a solid defense behind them.
“The guys made six or seven spectacular plays against Castleton State,” said Beatham. “I can’t thank them enough.”
“You know if you pitch to contact, the guys are going to make the plays behind you,” said Arsenault.
Husson (27-15) faces NEAC West champion Penn State Berks (18-19) at Castleton State in a best-of-three series Saturday (2) and Sunday at Castleton State for the right to play in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Sanborn earns 500th coaching victory
Will Sanborn of Saint Joseph’s College in Standish recently earned his 500th career coaching victory as the head of the Monks baseball program.
Sanborn, a 1986 Saint Joseph’s graduate, reached the milestone Sunday when the Monks beat Suffolk University for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship at Larry Mahaney Diamond.
Sanborn improved his career mark to 500-284-5 (.638), making him the winningest single-sport coach in school history. Under his direction, Saint Joseph’s has won 10 conference titles and six regional championships, reaching 30 victories seven times and 20 wins on 15 occasions.
“He has done great things with St. Joseph’s program,” said Harvey. “I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done. He’s going to continue to have success because he recruits very well.”
Sanborn has been named the conference coach of the year four times and last season led the Monks to the NCAA Division III Baseball New England Regional. Saint Joseph’s is headed for the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years.