If the combination of great pitching and solid defense is the key to winning baseball games, then Fairfield is going to have a much better season than their preseason number eight ranking in the MAAC, and their 0-3 early season record indicate. And a lot of that hinges on the left arm of Ed Kamintzky ’07.

Let this be said first: the Stags started off the season on the wrong foot, losing three lopsided contests to James Madison, in which Kamintzky and every other Fairfield pitcher took a beating and had his ERA greatly inflated.

But in college baseball, in which southern teams dominate and teams from the Northeast often get off to similar starts, the conference schedule is what matters. And with a rotation and defensive aligment that could prove superior to other MAAC teams, Kamitzky is optimistic.

“I think a MAAC championship is definitely possible,” says Kamintzky. “We didn’t really lose many players from last year’s team, one senior starting pitcher (Tim Dugan) and one position player (Mark Geanuleas). Everyone has been looking really good in the field in the fall and in the pre-season.”

Kamintzky hopes to improve upon a sophomore campaign in which he led the team with a 4.26 earned run average. He was responsible for four of the Stags 15 wins last season and was second on the team in strikeouts with 52.

Kamintzky also led the team in shutouts and was second on the team in complete games.

“I just want to keep the team in the game as long as I can when I am out there,” Kamintzky says. “I am the only pitcher in my class that has gotten a substantial amount of innings my freshman and sophomore year. I will try and relay everything that I have learned to the younger players.”

The only left-handed pitcher on the Stags’ staff is a key part of a revamped starting rotation that during the off-season added 6 foot 3 inch Duke transfer Paul DeMarco and standout newcomer Doug Ciallella ’09.

DeMarco arrives at Fairfield with an impressive ACC pitching resume which includes leading the Blue Devils in saves his freshman year. After sitting out last season, he is ready to contribute for the Stags. Ciallella comes to Fairfield via Clifton High School in New Jersey where he enjoyed a very impressive pitching career. Ciallella amassed a 13-6 record, while recording 131 strikeouts for his career.

The bullpen will be anchored by right-handed tri-captain Dan Breen ’06, who set the school record last year in relief appearances with 22 and led the team in saves, with four. Other right-handers Michael Colucci ’07, Steve Flynn ’08, Ryan Hoffman ’08, and Matt Kessler ’08 look to provide the Stags with much needed depth both starting and relieving.

“We improved our front line starting pitching while also creating more depth,” said Head Coach John Slosar, who enters his 22nd season as the Stags’ skipper. “Our bullpen will definitely be stronger as a result and we are going to need them to win games. Last year pitching was a weak spot for us last year in terms of depth and front line starting pitching.”

Defense was certainly not a weak spot for the Stags last year. They were number one in the MAAC in fielding percentage, with a .967 mark. The defense figures to be as good or better this season, as the Stags only lose one player from its regular group of starters from last year’s team.

“Hopefully our defense will be where it was last year,” starting shortstop Doug Anderson ’06 said. “Our chemistry will definitely be a good thing and it will help us win some games.”

Anderson looks to keep playing steady at shortstop, where last season he was an all-MAAC first team selection. Anderson led last year’s team in runs scored and had nine multiple runs batted in outings while amassing a .975 fielding percentage in the middle of the diamond.

“Doug is everyday out there,” Kamintzky said. “I have yet to see him miss a ball or make an error in the fall or in the preseason.”

Another key component to the defense will be the play of starting catcher Tom Arpino ’06, who led last year’s starters with a.996 fielding percentage behind the plate.

The Stags will need Arpino and tri-captain first baseman John Scaife ’06 to pick up where they left off last season offensively. Scaife led the team in home runs (7) and runs batted in (47), which were good enough to rank him fifth in the MAAC in each category. Other starters that will need to step it up include tri-captain third-baseman Dewey Raymond ’06 and oft lead-off second baseman Brian Schappert ’07.

“We are a team that has to get better everyday and the players have taken it on themselves to do that,” Slosar says. No improvement though, may be more significant than Kamitzky’s. Not since Tom Maisano ’04 pitched his last game in the 2004 season have the Stags had a bona fide ace. But in Kamitzky, who ressembles Pedro Martinez more than any other pitcher with his underwhelming physical presence, they may have their man.

Though his 2005 ERA was unspectacular, Kamitzky showed streaks of brilliance that, if replicated in 2006, could make him one of the best pitchers in the MAAC, if not in the region.

On April 4 last year against Saint Peter’s, he pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout for his first win of the year – the only complete game shutout of the year for the Stags.

But his finest moment came two weeks later against Siena. On April 17, he flirted with a no-hitter, holding the Saints hitless through seven innings en route to a four-hit victory.

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