Opinion: Quinnipiac Baseball’s “What-if”


Photos: QU Athletics

Thomas Senerchia

What a long, brutal year 2020 has been. Highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a year some people can’t wait to forget. However, lets first take a look back at something COVID-19 stole from us, a Quinnipiac baseball title defense.

The COVID-19 pandemic tore through everything in its path, including collegiate athletics. The remainder of winter and spring athletics were cancelled when universities went fully remote back in March. Both Quinnipiac’s basketball teams were away about to tip off the MAAC basketball tournaments, and Quinnipiac’s spring sports were just getting things rolling, specifically the baseball team.

The Bobcats had just come off a 2019 MAAC title and an upset win in the NCAA tournament, looking to build on that heading into the 2020 season. Obviously, COVID had other plans, but let’s take a look at how the Bobcats looked in 2019 and heading into 2020.

Head Coach John Delaney led Quinnipiac to a 30-29 record in 2019, finishing 17-7 in MAAC play. They defeated Fairfield University 6-5 in 13 innings to win the MAAC Championship, Quinnipiac’s first under coach Delaney.

The Bobcats weren’t done just yet. They shocked the world and secured an upset victory over #10 ranked Eastern Carolina University, winning 5-4. Quinnipiac wouldn’t win any more games, but that was the programs first NCAA tournament win, and definitely not its last.

The 2019 Bobcats were led by a great mix of youth and veterans, and both would’ve been key contributors to the lost 2020 season. Three players hit above .300, with then sophomores Ian Ostberg (.321), Colton Bender (.322) and junior Andre Marrero (.316) providing constant offense for Quinnipiac. Marrero also led the team in runs (51), hits (74), triples (4) and cranked 10 home runs to go along with.

That’s three solid players in the Bobcats lineup, and it’s three solid players returning for the 2020 season, with Marrero suiting up for his senior campaign.

Quinnipiac would indeed miss former slugger Liam Scafariello for the 2020 season, who led the team with 14 homeruns in 2019. His presence in the lineup would be hard to fill, and the 2020 season would’ve been a great opportunity for other Bobcats to step up and fill that spot.

Another area that lost key players was the pitching staff. The Bobcats were led by the dynamic duo of senior Tyler Poulin and graduate student Chris Enns during the 2019season. The two combined to fan 159 batters, and both won seven games across 15 starts. Enns was the only Quinnipiac player to throw a complete game, and he topped that by throwing a second one.

Right there to back up Poulin and Enns were relievers Andrew Workman and Colin Donnelly. Workman capped off his senior campaign with a 1.61 ERA through 50 innings across 27 appearances, and led the Bobcats with 9 saves. Add in his 36 strikeouts and 0.97 WHIP, and Workman leaves a big hole at the top of the bullpen heading into 2020.

Donnelly, a junior in 2019, was looking to build off a decent season heading into his senior year. Donnelly pitched a 3.79 ERA through 59.1 innings across 29 appearances, and struck out 51 batters to support a 6-1 record. Donnelly likely would’ve been a go-to guy in the back of the Bobcats’ rotation his senior year. Another lost opportunity.

Quinnipiac finished the 2019 season with four pitchers (minimum 15 appearances). holding an ERA below four. Those four arms are no longer on the team. They had seven pitchers with 30 or more strikeouts. The 2020 season would’ve been a big year in terms of developing the younger arms Coach Delaney had on the roster. The team had a ton of young, talented players who could’ve been a year more developed by now.

Who are some of these players?

The 2019 season showcased several young talents who were poised to make their name in 2020, and perhaps they still will in 2021. Then-sophomore pitcher Arthur Correira struck out 45 batters on his way to a 3-4 record in 13 starts in 2019. His 5.31 ERA wasn’t great, but a 1.45 WHIP provides plenty of promise for Correira.

Another young arm is Anthony Ambrosino. As a first-year student in 2019, Ambrosino struck out 11 hitters in 10 appearances, finishing with a 1-0 record. Like Correira, his high ERA of 7.71 wasn’t pretty, but he finished with a WHIP of 2.23, not terrible considering his inflated ERA.

One last pitcher we’ll look at is Blake DeCarr. The 2019 redshirt sophomore was 0-2 in four starts and 11 total appearances, but struck out 30 batters. His WHIP was just above 2, and he too would’ve likely been another solid arm in the rotation in 2020.

That right there is three young, talented Bobcats pitchers who looked promising during the 2019 season. Fast-forward two years, and these young athletes as well as the rest of the team could’ve been an entire season more developed by now.

After the seasons were cancelled, the NCAA ruled to grant winter and spring athletes another year of eligibility, a huge second-chance for 2020 seniors to give it one more shot. With COVID-19 still wreaking havoc throughout the country to this day, it remains to be seen how even the 2021 season will pan out, perhaps resulting in yet another year of granted eligibility by the NCAA.

Nevertheless, the one thing the Bobcats got robbed of in 2020 was momentum. Coming off a MAAC title and an upset win in the NCAA tournament, this team was poised for more in 2020. They were ready.

While the future is still very, very bright for Coach Delaney and the Bobcats heading into 2021, it can’t be denied how much of a truly missed opportunity the canceled 2020 season was for Quinnipiac baseball.