Feb. 2, 2009
FAIRFIELD, CT - The Sacred Heart University baseball team was picked to finish in seventh place in the Northeast Conference Pre-season Coach's Poll. Monmouth University was the pre-season favorite over Central Connecticut, grabbing five of the eight first-place votes.
The Pioneers finished in sixth place in 2008 with a 10-18 record. SHU looks to capture its first NEC Tournament berth since 2006 as head coach Nick Giaquinto began 2009 a lot healthier than they ended 2008.
Former NEC all-star Jeff Hanson was lost 11 games into last season, which compounded the injury bug that bit SHU before the season even started. The Pioneers receive an instant boost with the return of junior Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA), who hit .285 and stole 13 bases as a rookie but was sidelined all last season. Also returning is senior catcher Frank Bainer who missed last season with an elbow injury.
Junior JJ Edwards (Endwell, NY), who manned third base last season and hit a team-high .316 after coming in from Maine. Senior shortstop Phill Tantillo (Blue Point, NY) produced a .303 batting average as one of only two Pioneers to start all 53 contests.
Junior lefty Jared Balbach (Pine Bush, NY) should only get better at the top of the Pioneers' rotation where he won four games as a sophomore. Senior righty Ryan Lynch (North Babylon, NY), who was SHU's lone all-NEC honoree last year at utility, can contribute from a number of positions including the mound.