For the first time since 2019 Marist baseball will be playing a complete season. With no extended postponements or abbreviated training camps, the Red Foxes have nothing to prevent them from being one of the powerhouses of the MAAC.
In 2021, Marist finished an impressive 17-9 in all conference matchups before eventually falling to Canisius in three games in the quarterfinal round of the MAAC Championships. They finished fifth in the conference, and though had they played all their games, they would have most likely finished the season as the two or three seed.
The Red Foxes lost a few important pieces from last year’s squad, including ace Ryan Cardona, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds last season. Despite this tough loss, the roster remains stacked with talent from top to bottom.
Losing an MLB prospect is detrimental, but senior pitcher Erubiel Candelario will be the one stepping up as the new number one in the rotation. The flamethrower had a 3.62 ERA last season and aside from one abysmal start at Abilene Christian, Candelario has posted a strong season so far. Negating the one game against the Wildcats, Candelario has pitched to a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings pitched.
Right behind him in the rotation is graduate student Alex Pansini. Despite not getting off to the smoothest start, Pansini has gone into second gear over his last two appearances with two gems. The graduate student only allowed one unearned run in seven innings at Navy and then proceeded to follow up that performance with 7⅔ innings of scoreless baseball at Fordham. The pitching staff is in good hands and is continuing to improve as this season has progressed.
At the plate, two players have been raking in out of conference play: Graduate student Gene Napolitano and redshirt freshman Gavin Noriega. Napolitano has been catching for the Red Foxes since 2018, however, his skills behind the plate have always overshadowed his hitting ability. This season, the New Jersey native is leading the team in hitting with a .382 batting average, including seven multi-hit games.
Noriega did not play in 2021, making this his inaugural season. It is rare for a first-year player to become such an instant fixture in a veteran lineup such as Marists’, but Noriega has put his talents on full display in the first third of this season. The first baseman/outfielder is leading the team in OPS at .990, and currently riding an eight-game hitting streak.
The Red Foxes are 9-6 and about to enter conference play this weekend when they host Fairfield. Marist has experienced a few rough games early while playing great in others. Many of their key assets are still yet to truly heat up, such as junior Dylan Hoy, senior Niko Amory, and senior Brian Hart. Once these players begin to find their stroke, opposing pitchers will fear this lineup.
Marist baseball ranked fourth in the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, but this team knows they can be at the top of this conference by the end of the season. Their lineup has depth and the rotation remains one of the team’s strongest weapons. The bullpen is still a work in progress, especially after freshman sensation Jack Bowery was moved into the rotation, but there is still potential. These Red Foxes only have their eye on winning the MAAC, and with a full season of baseball, they finally have a fair and legitimate shot to do so.
Edited by Bridget Reilly and Connor Kurpat
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics