SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team opens the 2017 season on Friday, Feb. 17 with the first of a four-game series at New Mexico State. First pitch is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday night.
The Bulldogs and Aggies will play a single nine-inning game on Friday, two nine-inning games on Saturday and wrap up the series with a single game on Sunday.
Watch Live (Friday and Sunday): NMStateSports.com
Listen Live: NMStateSports.com
Live Stats: NMStateSports.com
Bryant and New Mexico State will be meeting for the first time in program history this weekend. It will be the Bulldogs' first meeting with a current member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
NOTES AND NOTABLES FOR NEW MEXICO STATE
Bryant will have to replace 73 percent of its run production and 75 percent of its doubles from a year ago. In addition, the Black and Gold lost five players that hit four or more home runs last year.
With the departure of seven starters, the Bulldogs will turn to one of the youngest teams in program history. Bryant could start as many as seven freshmen this season and could open the season with five in the starting lineup.
Senior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) returns as the leader on offense and will be Bryant's everyday second baseman. Fabio has played in 160 career games and enters his final season with a chance to set Division I program records for walks and stolen bases. He is also just 32 hits shy of becoming the fifth player in DI program history to record 200 hits in a career.
Sophomore Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) returns after earning Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year honors. He was named one of the top 150 outfielders in the country according to D1Baseball.com, coming in at No. 85.
Junior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) was listed among the top 50 catchers in the country by D1Baseball. Gasper hit .392 in 79 at-bats last season.
Bryant's first two weekend starters, junior James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.) and sophomore Steve Theetge (Syracuse, N.Y.), went a combined 21-3 last season. Karinchak went 12-3 with a 2.00 ERA and Theetge was 9-0 with a 2.72 ERA.
Karinchak was listed No. 19 on D1Baseball's top 150 starting pitchers in the country. He currently ranks fourth in DI program history with 20 career victories and fourth in strikeouts (186).
Also listed among D1Baseball's top positional players was junior closer Justin Snyder (Georgetown, Mass.) and freshman Jimmy Titus (Stafford, Conn.). Snyder was listed at No. 47 on the top relievers list and Titus was listed as one of the top 100 impact freshmen (No. 97).
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
New Mexico State had one of the nation's biggest turnarounds in 2016, going from 11 wins to 35 wins. The Aggies return seven starters from that team led by Austin Botello who hit .354 with eight home runs and 50 RBI. New Mexico State also welcomes in JUCO transfer Caleb Henderson, a 29th-round selection last June. On the mound, Kyle Bradish went 8-3 with a 4.67 ERA on his way to Freshman All-American honors and returns to headline the rotation. Jonathan Groff, another JUCO transfer, was the D3 Junior College Pitcher of the Year last season and will start on Friday night.