The St. Joseph’s College baseball team came agonizingly close to qualifying for the 2016 NCAA Division III tournament – and it’s intent on getting there this year.

“For those seniors in particular it adds some focus and some determination,” said Coach Will Sanborn. “They went to the NCAA tournament as freshmen and last year they were literally one swing, one catch of a ground ball, one pitch away from the thing.”

St. Joseph’s lost last year’s Great Northeastern Athletic Conference final 5-4 in 10 innings against Suffolk after forcing a winner-take-all game by beating Suffolk, 8-7.

This season the Monks are off to an 11-2 start. A squad with 12 seniors, four returning starters in the infield and a veteran pitching staff has clubbed most teams into submission.

St. Joe’s, ranked 26th in this week’s American Baseball Coaches Association poll, scored 140 runs in going 10-2 in Florida. The Monks also beat defending Commonwealth Coast Conference champ Salve Regina 5-4 in Florida and won their New England opener against Husson, 3-2 in 10 innings.

Seniors third baseman Taylor Black (.490, 19 RBI), four-year starting shortstop Max McCoomb of South Berwick (.467, 16 RBI) and designated hitter Jameson Collins (.404, 20 RBI) have powered the offense. Ten players with more than 20 at-bats are hitting .324 or better, including sophomore INF/OF Noah McDaniel (Marshwood/Eliot) who is hitting a team-high .516.

The Monks return four pitchers who threw more than 30 innings a year ago: junior Josh Partridge (5-1, 2.41 ERA, 59.2 IP in 2016), Travis Godbout of Portland High (6-2, 3.16 ERA, 45 K, 42.2 IP), Grayson Jennings (3-3, 3.45 ERA, 47 IP, 40K), and Nick Malatesta (5-3, 4.02 ERA, 31.1 IP, 31 K).

“Josh Partridge is really probably our top guy,” Sanborn said. “We moved him into the bullpen. It allows us to use him multiple days in a week. He can go long relief, short relief. He’s a lefty who is hard to get a good read on.”

In seven relief appearances, Partridge is 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA, two walks and 13 strikeouts in 151/3 innings.

Godbout, who has started twice and made two relief appearances, is 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA.

In 24 seasons at Saint Joseph’s, Sanborn is 655-356-5 with 11 seasons of 30 or more wins. St. Joe’s, which was an NAIA program until the 2003 season, has advanced to the NCAA tournament eight times, including five straight from 2010-2014.

“It’s really tough to get an at-large bid because now it’s a national, not regional, selection,” Sanborn said. “You better win your conference.”

St. Joe’s is scheduled to play at Colby on Wednesday and host Husson on Thursday, though that game may be moved to Husson’s synthetic turf field.

Sanborn said his team has the depth to handle a backlog of games, both in terms of his lineup and his pitching staff.

“At least for the next couple weeks we’re going to be using a lot of guys in a lot of different roles,” Sanborn said.