PITMAN—After capturing the 2008 NJAC Championship and advancing to the NCAA Division III National Championship Series, Kean University has been selected as the 2009 preseason baseball favorite in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
Kean was selected to finish first on six-of-the-ten ballots cast by the league’s head coaches. The Cougars return three all-conference players from their NJAC championship squad including junior right-handed pitcher Joe Bartlinski (South Amboy), junior second baseman Mike Moceri (Yardville/Hamilton East), and the 2008 NJAC Fireman of the Year in senior right-handed pitcher Brandon Aich (Sayreville). Other local players include junior outfielder Mike Nolan (Linden/Roselle Catholic) and senior pitcher Pedro Rivera (Elizabeth/Union Catholic)
Rowan University, which earned an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Newark Regional Final before falling to Kean, was selected to finish second and received two first place votes. The College of New Jersey, which captured NJAC championships in 2005, 2006, and 2007, was selected to place third and received one first place vote.
Montclair State University was selected to finish fourth and received one first place vote. The Red Hawks return one all-conference player from its 2008 squad in senior outfielder Ed Kloepping (Pennsville). Local players include freshman pitchers Giovanni Caraballo (Elizabeth) and Sean Hille (Edison/St. Joseph’s).
Non-conference play in the NJAC got underway on Feb. 20; league play will begin on Thursday, March 26.