CORTLAND, N.Y. - The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) has released its 2019 baseball preseason coaches poll, with the Cortland Red Dragons edging out the top spot with a total of 35 points. Oswego was voted No. 2 with 31 points, while Brockport landed the third spot with 27 points.
Cortland was the No. 1 seed in last year's SUNYAC Tournament following a 32-10 season, but fell shy of winning a conference title after failing to stop Oswego's offense in the final two games of the tournament. Despite the finish against the Lakers, the Red Dragons remained determined, setting their sights on an NCAA Division III championship after an at-large bid. In the NCAA Division III Baseball New York Regional opening round, Cortland edged out Westfield State 5-4 in extra innings. They lost to Swarthmore, but in the double elimination tournament, they continued on winning two more. They faced Southern Maine and in 10 innings, the Red Dragons lost 12-10, ending the season. Prior to 2017, the Red Dragons held a dominanting six-year SUNYAC title winning streak. In a span from 1997 to 2016, Cortland has taken home the SUNYAC title, except for 2004 and 2010, when Brockport was crowned champion in each of those seasons. Head coach Joe Brown has led the Red Dragons to 15 SUNYAC titles under his leadership, along with numerous NCAA Division III Tournament appearances and 10 World Series showings. Overall, Cortland has won 34 SUNYAC titles in the program's history, the most among all other SUNYAC baseball programs. Outfielder Antonio Pragana returns to Cortland for his sophomore season, following an impressive 2018 campaign that earned him the Clark V. Whited Rookie of the Year honors.
Oswego hopes to extend the success from its 2018 conference championship season into the 2019 campaign. Last year's team had the second-best record in the conference with a 30-14 record overall, while leading all conference teams with 369 runs scored. The Lakers made it to the SUNYAC championship against the Red Dragons, and in a doubleheader routed Cortland in both of the final two games thanks to a terrific offensive showing. Oswego carried their success into the NCAA Division III playoffs, making a World Series appearance for the second-consecutive year. Their impressive season ended with an 11-4 loss to top-seeded Randolph-Macon College. Head coach Scott Landers returns for his eigth season at the helm. The team's success in 2018 under his watch landed him the New York Region Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) for the second-straight year. Since becoming the team's head coach in the summer of 2011, Landers has helped transform the Lakers from a competitive baseball team to one of the most dominant teams in the conference. Landers is the only Oswego coach to lead the baseball program to any World Series appearances, and under his guidance, the Lakers have been crowned SUNYAC champions for two-straight years. Lakers outfielder Mike Dellicarri, last year's Bob Wallace Player of the Year, returns for his junior season. Oswego carries 14 conference championships in program history.
Brockport rounds out the top three teams in the 2019 preseason poll as voted on by the SUNYAC baseball coaches. The Golden Eagles finished fourth in the conference last season, posting a 9-9 record in conference play and finishing 18-20 overall. Since 2014, Brockport hasn't missed a SUNYAC Tournament appearance; in last season's tournament appearance, they ended their championship bid after losing 2-1 in extra innings to New Paltz. Head coach Justin Beach will look to guide the Golden Eagles back to championship form this year for the first time since 2010, when the team was crowned SUNYAC champions under Beach's watch. Since taking the reins in June of 2008, Beach has helped lead the Golden Eagles to numerous SUNYAC Tournament appearances. Beach has led Brockport teams to the NCAA Regional Tournament twice with trips in 2010 and 2011. The Golden Eagles have taken home the SUNYAC Championship trophy five times in their program's history.
2019 SUNYAC Preseason Poll
1. Cortland - 35
2. Oswego - 31
3. Brockport - 27
4. New Paltz - 19
5. Oneonta - 16
6. Fredonia - 11
7. Plattsburgh - 8