Saturday, December 7, 2013
STANDISH - There is a rip in the leg of Ben Grant-Roy's pin-striped baseball pants.
1. Tufts University (31-5, 10-2 NESCAC)
2. Wheaton College (32-8, 11-1 NEWMAC)
3. Western New England (33-10, 17-5 TCCC)
4. Eastern Connecticut (30-13, 10-4 LEC)
5. Worcester State (31-9-1, 10-4 MASCAC)
6. Westfield State (30-9, 12-2 MASCAC)
7. UMass-Boston (27-15, 8-6 LEC)
8. St. Joseph’s (32-11, 11-3 GNAC)
A gash, really, that leaves swaths of fabric flopping in the breeze in three directions.
It happened weeks ago at practice. Evidence, perhaps, of the style of play the former fullback and Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist brings to the baseball diamond for St. Joseph's College.
Today, Grant-Roy and the eighth-seeded Monks bring their game to the NCAA Division III New England Regional in Mansfield, Conn. They face No. 1 seed Tufts at 1:15 p.m. The tournament is double elimination.
"We knew coming into this season we would be strong and have some depth," said Grant-Roy, a senior. "We're still not done."
In high school, Grant-Roy had a tough reputation on the field at fullback for Biddeford.
Explains catcher Travis Adams, a former defensive back for Thornton Academy: "He was the kind of guy where if you hit him, he'd go out next play and hit you harder. He was not someone you wanted to mess with."
On the baseball field, he was every bit as aggressive.
He easily chose to pursue baseball over football: "I knew I wanted to play baseball in my heart."
He earned a scholarship to Division I Longwood University in Farmville, Va., but after a semester returned to Maine and connected with Coach Will Sanborn at St. Joe's.
He was a catcher but needed Tommy John surgery. So he was moved to first base.
He has stayed there since his first season at St. Joe's. He has also batted cleanup for the Monks in every game played since his freshman year.
His average heading into the tournament is .391 with 45 runs batted in, and he has a fielding percentage of .991.
That's topped by Todd Keneborus -- a .456 hitter with a team-high 61 RBI.
"Ben never has the best average or the most home runs. But he's as consistent as they get," said Sanborn.
"He works to get his pitch. He's willing to take a walk. He has good at-bats."
But, said Sanborn, despite hitting cleanup for four seasons, it's his rugged edge that defines his career.
"It's how hard he plays. He'd literally run through a wall for you," said Sanborn.
Or over one.
Like the time he dived over a fence and into the first-base stands during an intrasquad scrimmage.
He didn't come up with the ball, but he did fire up his teammates.
"We have a lot of nice kids. Good students," said Sanborn. "You need guys with that competitive edge."
"He's someone you love to play with but would hate to play against," said Adams.
This season, the Monks bring the kind of depth that's necessary to have a shot at advancing out of the New England Regional.
Between Keneborus and Grant-Roy is utility player Chris Campbell and second baseman Mike Burdin, hitting .431 and .415, respectively.
Designated hitter Ian Lee is hitting .389 with 27 RBI.
There is also depth on the mound.
Pat Moran, a former University of Maine pitcher, has a 7-1 record with a 3.83 ERA and 58 strikeouts.
Sam Murray is 7-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 33 strikeouts, to complement Moran.
As a team, the Monks are batting .362, and have a .954 fielding percentage.
"This is the best team we've had in a long time," said Grant-Roy.
"And I'm confident we can do something special."
Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: email@example.com