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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, May 27, 2011

Plenty of locals eyeing DIII title

Here is a story by the Register's Chip Malafronte on a bevy of area players playing for Western New England College which reached the DIII World Series.

When the season began in early March, the main goal of the Western New England baseball team was to win the NCAA Division III New England Regional.
Since that was accomplished last weekend, there’s a new objective — to win a national championship.
Western New England (42-9) will make its first appearance at the Division III Baseball Championships in Appleton, Wis., tonight at 8:45 p.m. against Keystone (Pa.) College.
Located a few miles from the Connecticut border in Springfield, Mass., Western New England is loaded with state talent. Twenty-one players on the roster are from Connecticut, 10 from Greater New Haven.
That includes Northford’s Mike Rubino, a Career product who leads the team with a .417 average, Guilford’s Matt Anthonis (.347, six triples, 44 RBIs), Branford’s Casey Dadio (.252), Brendan Nugent (2.08 ERA), a relief pitcher from Milford and Cheshire’s Kevin Jefferis (4-3. 5.15 ERA in 11 starts). All five are underclassmen.
“It was exciting coming here knowing I had played against seven or eight other guys on the team in high school,” said Rubino, a sophomore third baseman. “We all meshed well and it helped with the team chemistry.”
Historically, the New England Regional champion has enjoyed success in the D-III national tournament. Over the last nine years, Eastern Connecticut (2002) and Trinity (2008) have won titles while
See WNEC, C4
Wheaton (Mass.) (2006) and Eastern (2004) have finished as runner-up.
Western New England had reached the regional the previous five seasons but came up short. Following a 4-4 start, which included losing four of six games on a spring trip to Phoenix, the Golden Bears have won 38 of 43 games and nine straight entering tonight.
“Coming out of high school, my main goal was to win,” Anthonis said. “Here, we have a real chance to do that every season. That was one of the big selling points for me.”
Rubino has led a potent lineup that features eight regulars hitting over .300. A two-time all-Southern Connecticut Conference Oronoque Division pick at Career, Rubino batted .345 as a freshman. This spring, his 80 hits set a school single-season record.
Anthonis and Dadio, both sophomores, were part-time players last season before earning starting roles. Anthonis has excelled out of the leadoff spot and has played left and right field. Dadio, also an outfielder, has big-game experience having played for Branford in the American Legion World Series in Spokane, Wash., last summer.
Jefferis’ numbers have dropped off slightly after going 7-1 with a 2.93 ERA as a freshman last spring, but he came through in Western New England’s biggest game (before tonight) by pitching 7§ scoreless innings with eight strikeouts in a 9-0 win over Bridgewater State in the New England Regional final.
Nugent is a freshman who played at St. Joseph last season, and has been a solid contributor with 15 appearances out of the bullpen.
Other area players on the roster include Milford’s Tom Booth, a backup catcher, Seymour’s Taylor Searles, a utility player, and Matt Sieminski of Madison and Derby’s Ryan Skelly, both relief pitchers.
“It’s been an exciting ride,” Rubino said. “We came into the regionals confident; we knew we could win the whole thing because we felt we had the best team. We’re confident heading into this tournament. (Tonight’s) game is huge. It will only boost our confidence up that much more knowing we can play with and beat the teams here.”
Follow Chip on Twitter @ChipMalafronte. To receive breaking sports news first — simply text the word “nhsports” to 22700. Standard msg+data rates may apply.

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