NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Back on campus and with the 2013 season exactly one month away, the Merrimack baseball team opens preseason camp this week, and third-year head coach Jim Martin has unveiled the program's captains for the upcoming campaign, as announced Wednesday.
Guided by seniors Brett Julian (Weymouth, Mass.) and Joe Mantoni (Northbridge, Mass.), who were named team captains alongside classmates and assistant captains Alan Pastyrnak Jr. (Bristol, Conn.) and Mike Laracy (Weymouth, Mass.), the Warriors will be looking to build on last year's 17-win campaign with hopes to returning to the Northeast-10 Conference Championships for the first time since the 2010 season.
Martin, in his third year at the helm of the program, improved the team's win total by three last spring. He returns four of his top five offensive players, as well as several key components of the pitching staff that hopes to mold into a contender in one of the most prestigious baseball conferences in Division II.
Entering his fourth year with the Warriors, Julian saw action both at the plate and as a pitcher last spring, finishing with 10 hits on offense while making 18 pitching appearances mainly out of the bullpen. The Weymouth, Mass., native posted a 4.46 ERA while recording a team-best four saves, totaling 36.1 innings of work with 26 strikeouts and 12 walks.
The team's designated hitter last spring, Mantoni ranked second with a .313 average on 50 hits in 160 at-bats as a junior, scoring 22 runs (third most) and totaling 11 doubles, one triple, and a side-best six homers. Mantoni also drove in a team-high 29 runs, while posting a .506 slugging percentage and a .442 on-base percentage, both of which ranked first on the team. The Northbridge, Mass., native and right-hander proved his versatility as a two-way player, making 11 starts and striking out 52 over 48.1 innings pitched.
After transferring from Northeastern University following the 2011 season, Pastyrnak Jr.'s first official campaign with the Navy and Gold was as successful as any other first-year player's, as the Bristol, Conn., native appeared in 40 games with 39 starts, finishing with a .266 average (41-for-154). The infielder drilled eight doubles with one triple and one home run and totaled 17 RBI, as well. An assistant captain this spring, Pastyrnak Jr. was also a threat on the base paths, going 9-for-13 in stolen bases.
A member of the All-Conference NE-10 Rookie Team as a freshman in 2010, Laracy rounds out the quartet of seniors serving as assistant captain in his final spring with the Warriors. The southpaw posted a 3.57 ERA in 11 appearances - including 10 starts, totaling 53 innings last season. The Weymouth, Mass., native finished with 32 strikeouts and 19 walks while opponents hit just .274 against him.
Merrimack opens the 2013 season on Feb. 16 in Morehead City, N.C. The Warriors will battle Felician for a two-game set in the season-opener before taking on Molloy and Southern Connecticut the following day.