Kyle Birdsall’s no-hitter reaffirmed the fact that it’s a good year to be a pitcher in the Northeast Conference.
Birdsall’s gem against Monmouth was only the fourth no-hitter, and just the third uncombined no-no, in the past decade of NEC Baseball. One of the others actually came courtesy of Mount St. Mary’s righty Kent Worthington last season, a diamond in what was a rough 2010 for NEC hurlers.
Just last year, a 4.67 ERA was enough to crack the NEC’s top-10 leader board. Brent Almeida (1.94) and Kent Worthington (2.95), both seniors, were the lone two weekend starters with individual earned-run averages below 3.00.
In 2011, however, Birdsall, who has limited the opposition to a .198 batting average and 26 hits in 38.0 innings, ranks 10th amongst league leaders in ERA. Quinnipiac’s senior right-hander allows only 3.32 earned runs per 9 innings.
This year, Bryant’s John Michael Ryan (1.74), Quinnipiac’s Derek Lamacchia (1.88), Mount’s Max Brittenham (2.12), CCSU sophomores Nick Neumann (2.19) and Todd Savatsky (2.45), and Monmouth veteran lefty Nick Meyers (2.75) all have sub-.300 ERA halfway through the Northeast Conference schedule.
Brittenham provides a perfect example of just how good the league’s arms have been this season. Mount’s ace has yet to win the Akadema NEC Pitcher of the Week award, and it’s not been for lack of prime performances.
Brittenham threw his fourth complete game of 2011 last weekend. He pitched 9.0 strong innings of winning baseball, scattering eight hits and permitting only one earned run in the Mountaineers’ 3-2 series-opening triumph over defending NEC champion Central Connecticut. Had Birdsall not thrown the no-hitter, Brittenham would have still had plenty of competition for the conference’s weekly pitching honor.
Wagner’s Jon Lucas pitched 6.2 scoreless innings in a 2-0 shutout of Bryant, striking out seven and walking none. That performance came only hours after Bryant’s Sal Lisanti and Mark Andrews combined for a three-hit 1-0 shutout of the Seahawks. Lisanti’s 3.03 earned-run average ranks eighth in the NEC, while Andrews ranks second amongst league leaders with six saves.
Dave Krasnowiecki twirled a three-hit shutout and fanned seven in CCSU’s 4-0 win over Mount in Game 2. Long Island sophomore Chris Franzese, a NYC product from Howard Beach, went 8.0 innings, allowing only one earned run and issuing no free passes, for a 3-1 win over FDU in the series opener.
Want more? Then, just look back to the first NEC weekend in April when four starters threw at least 7.0 scoreless innings in winning efforts. Brittenham was not one of them, however, as he “settled” for a nine-inning complete-game 18-1 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson during which he walked none.
We haven’t even begun to discuss the stark contrast in team pitching stats from 2010 to 2011.
At 4.81, Bryant was the 2010 NEC team leader in ERA, and the lone team in the conference under 5.00.
With only five NEC weekends remaining, five of the league’s nine teams sport sub-5.00 ERAs.
As one would expect with the rise in pitching, home runs are way down this season. NEC hitters have hit only 68 home runs over 254 games, a rate of one long ball every 3.74 games.
In 2010, NEC arms let up 431 home runs in 490 games, nearly one per contest. This year, opponents are averaging one round-tripper every 2.5 games against Northeast Conference hurlers.
Barring a month-long league-wide offense eruption, 2011 will go down as a Year of the Pitcher.