KINGSTON, R.I. - The Rhode Island baseball team has been picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10 this season, in voting conducted among the conference's head coaches. The Rams finished the 2019 season ranked sixth in the A-10, and went 1-2 in the conference championship.
VCU is the preseason favorite, receiving eight of a possible 13 first-place votes. Defending champion Fordham came in just behind VCU, with two first-place votes, while Dayton (picked third) collected the remaining three first-place votes. Richmond (fourth), Davidson (fifth), Saint Louis (sixth) and Rhody rounded out the top-7.
The 2020 Rams return a pitching staff that combined to make 44 of the team's 53 starts a year ago, including 2019 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie selection Justin Cherry. Redshirt senior closer Tyler Brosius - who had a breakout season last year - will bolster the Rhody bullpen after going 6-2 with six saves and a 2.27 ERA in 2019.
Offensively, Rhody returns five of its top six hitters from a year ago, as well as 11 players who saw action in 20 or more games. Junior Xavier Vargas led the 2019 Rams with a .300 batting average, 38 RBI and .406 slugging percentage while classmate Austin White scored a team-best 36 runs and had a .416 on-base percentage. White also turned in a perfect fielding percentage in centerfield, recording 110 putouts and six assists.
Led by two-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year Raphael Cerrato, Rhode Island opens the 2020 season with a three game series at Lamar (Feb. 14-16).
2020 Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball Poll
Total votes (first-place votes)
1. VCU - 162 (8)
2. Fordham - 149 (2)
3. Dayton - 144 (3)
4. Richmond - 123
5. Davidson - 112
6. Saint Louis - 111
7. Rhode Island - 97
8. George Washington - 73
9. Saint Joseph's - 71
10. George Mason - 52
11. Massachusetts - 37
12. La Salle - 31
13. St. Bonaventure - 21