Rhode Island Rams baseball
|Rhode Island Rams|
|2017 Rhode Island Rams baseball team|
|University||University of Rhode Island|
|Head coach||Raphael Cerrato (2nd season)|
|Home stadium||Bill Beck Field
|Colors||Keaney Blue, White, and Navy Blue
|NCAA Tournament appearances|
|Conference tournament champions|
|A-10: 2006, 2013, 2016
A-10 East: 2003, 2004, 2005
The Rhode Island Rams baseball team is the varsity intercollegiate baseball team of the University of Rhode Island, located in Kingston, Rhode Island, United States. The program has been a member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference since the start of the 1981 season. Since the 1966 season, the program has played at Bill Beck Field, located on the university's campus. The program has appeared in one NCAA Tournament. It has won one conference tournament, two regular season conference title, and three regular season division titles. Three former Rams have appeared in Major League Baseball.
The university first held classes in 1892, as the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Its varsity baseball program began playing in 1898, going 6–2 in its first season. The program played two more seasons before going on hiatus from 1901–1906. It returned in 1907. In 1909, the school was renamed Rhode Island State College. After taking one season off in 1918, due to World War I, the program resumed play for the 1919 season.
On March 8, 1923, the Ram was adopted as the official mascot and nickname of the college's athletic programs.
New England Conference
Prior to the start of the 1924 season, the New England Conference formed. In addition to Rhode Island State, the conference's members were Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Northeastern. It sponsored baseball from its inception.
The program played 22 seasons in the conference (1924–1943, 1946–1947), all under Keaney. During this period, in which the program had a 194–92–1 overall record, the program's highest win total came in 1937 (16–4), and its highest winning percentage came in 1933 (.923).
Prior to the start of the 1948 season, the Rams joined the Yankee Conference. The conference formed has a result of Northeastern's departure from the New England Conference. It consisted of the four remaining NEC members, along with Massachusetts State and Vermont.
Frank Keaney retired as head baseball coach following the 1948 season. In 26 seasons as head coach, Keaney had a record of 222–113–1. He also stepped down as the school's men's basketball coach at this time, in order to become Rhode Island State's athletic director. Shortly thereafter, in 1951, the name of the school was changed from Rhode Island State College to the University of Rhode Island.
The program struggled during its time in the Yankee Conference. After going 14–3 in 1949, its first season under Vic Palladino, the program had an above-.500 record in only six of 31 seasons. Two of these seasons, 1955 and 1956, came under head coach Bill Beck, who would step down following the 1959 season. In 1966, the program's home venue was dedicated to Beck.
Atlantic 10 Conference
Prior to the 1981 season, the program joined the recently formed Eastern 8 Conference, playing in the East Division along with Rutgers and Massachusetts. Following the 1982 season, with several changes to the conference's membership, the conference became known by its current name, the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10). Rhode Island made the transition under head coach John Norris, who had held the position since prior to the 1970 season. In 1984, Norris led the program to its first postseason appearance, a berth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Rams qualified for the tournament by finishing tied for 2nd in the East Division. In the four-team, double-elimination tournament, Rhode Island won its opening two games, 15–3 over West Virginia and 7–6 over Penn State. The team then could have won the tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a win over Temple, which had already lost one game. However, Temple defeated the Rams in consecutive games, 6–3 and 6–4. For the remainder of Norris' tenure, which lasted through the 1987 season, and the entirety of Dave Morris' tenure (1988–1992), the Rams finished no higher than third in the East Division and did not qualify for the postseason.
Following the 1992 season, the university hired program alumnus Frank Leoni as head coach at a time when it considered cutting the baseball program. The program survived, although for a time, its scholarship funding was cut entirely to comply with Title IX. At the time, Leoni was the youngest coach in Division I baseball. His early seasons as head coach were poor. In 1994, his second season, the team had its worst season in the Atlantic 10 era, going 2–39–1 with a 1–22 A-10 record amid reduced funding and talk of cutting the program. In the late-1990s, after the school decided to keep the program the team improved. In 1998 and 1999, the team finished tied for 3rd in the East Division. In 2001, it finished with an above-.500 record for the first time since 1984, going 27–23.
In 2003, the program finished tied for 1st in the East Division and returned the postseason for the first time since 1984. In the A-10 Tournament, the Rams went 1–2. In 2004, the program won the East Division outright and returned to the A-10 Tournament. After losing its opening game to St. Bonaventure, the team defeated George Washington and Richmond to advance to the championship game against St. Bonaventure. There, it lost 3–2.
In 2005, the Rams won the East Division and the A-10 Tournament in order to advance to the program's first NCAA Tournament. In the conference tournament, the Rams went 3–0, defeating Dayton, Richmond, and George Washington to receive the A-10's automatic bid to the 2005 NCAA Tournament. As the fourth seed in the Long Beach Regional, the team lost its opening game to Long Beach State, 11–2. It then lost an elimination game to Pepperdine, 2–1.
Following the 2005 season, Leoni left Rhode Island to become the head coach at William & Mary. He was replaced by Jim Foster, a former Providence player and minor-league catcher who had been an assistant at Brown from 2002–2004 and at Rhode Island in 2005. In Foster's first season, 2006, the Rams won the A-10 Regular Season Title. In the A-10 Tournament, the team was eliminated after consecutive one-run losses: 3–2 against Saint Louis and 6–5 in 17 innings against George Washington. In 2009, the team set a program-record with 37 wins and finished second in the A-10. After losing to Xavier in the deciding game of the A-10 Tournament, the team was considered for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but did not receive one.
During an October 2011 fall workout, Rhode Island player Joseph Ciancola collapsed on the playing field and died in a hospital shortly thereafter. During the following season, Ciancola was commemorated by both Rhode Island and his former high school team.
In the 2013 season, the team finished in a three-way tie for the regular season A-10 championship. Rhode Island, Saint Louis, and Charlotte each finished with 17–7 conference records. In the opening round of the A-10 Tournament, the Rams defeated La Salle, 5–2, behind a complete game by Mike Bradstreet. It then lost consecutive games to Charlotte and George Washington, however, and was eliminated from the tournament.
Following the 2014 season, Foster left to become the associate head coach at Boston College. In nine years as the Rams' head coach, Foster had an overall record of 268–228–2; he won two A-10 regular season championships and had seven 30-win seasons. Assistant coach Raphael Cerrato, formerly the head coach at Division II New Haven, was named interim head coach for the 2015 season.
- Independent (1898–1900, 1907–1917, 1919–1923)
- New England Conference (1924–1943, 1946–1947)
- Yankee Conference (1948–1975)
- Independent (1976–1980)
- Atlantic 10 Conference (1981–present)
- Known as the Eastern 8 Conference from 1981–1982
Bill Beck Field
Since the start of the 1966 season, the Rams have played on campus at Bill Beck Field. The field has a capacity of 1,000 spectators and has been renovated twice since 2000. It is named for Bill Beck, former Rhode Island football and baseball coach. The site of the field has hosted Rhode Island baseball since its first season in 1898.
Home games for Rhode Island baseball and softball are carried by the University of Rhode Island's radio station, WRIU. Many baseball home games (and nearby away games) are broadcast on 90.3FM, with the remaining baseball and all home softball games streamed online on RIU2.
Frank Keaney is the program's longest-tenured head coach, having coached for 26 seasons in two stints, 1921–1943, 1946–1948. Jim Foster, coach from 2006–2014, is the program's wins leader with 268.
|1898–1900, 1907–1917, 1919–1920||Unknown||16||64–65–1||.492|
|1921–1943, 1946–1948||Frank Keaney||26||222–113–1||.622|
|1949–1953||Victor J Palladino Jr.||5||41–40–1||.506|
Current coaching staff
- Head coach – Raphael Cerrato
- Assistant coach – Matt Unteit
- Volunteer assistant coach – Mike Walsh
|No program (1901–1906)|
|No program (1918–1918)|
|New England Conference (1924–1943)|
|No program (1944–1945)|
|New England Conference (1946–1947)|
|Yankee Conference (1948–1980)|
|Atlantic 10 Conference (1981–present)|
|1981||John Norris||14–18||3–5||3rd (East)|
|1982||John Norris||17–19||3–4||3rd (East)|
|1983||John Norris||15–22||3–7||4th (East)|
|1984||John Norris||22–18||6–5||t-2nd (East)||A-10 Tournament|
|1985||John Norris||14–16–1||5–7||4th (East)|
|1986||John Norris||14–15–1||4–7–1||3rd (East)|
|1987||John Norris||9–22||4–10||4th (East)|
|1988||Dave Morris||10–28||5–11||4th (East)|
|1989||Dave Morris||15–25||5–10||3rd (East)|
|1990||Dave Morris||11–23–2||6–10||3rd (East)|
|1991||Dave Morris||15–27||4–12||5th (East)|
|1992||Dave Morris||8–25–1||4–12||5th (East)|
|1996||Frank Leoni||15–24||6–14||6th (East)|
|1997||Frank Leoni||14–28–1||6–15||5th (East)|
|1998||Frank Leoni||19–24||8–10||t-3rd (East)|
|1999||Frank Leoni||22–28||10–11||t-3rd (East)|
|2000||Frank Leoni||24–25–1||8–13||t-4th (East)|
|2002||Frank Leoni||24–28||10–14||t-3rd (East)|
|2003||Frank Leoni||26–26||16–8||t-1st (East)||A-10 Tournament|
|2004||Frank Leoni||35–20–1||20–4||1st (East)||A-10 Tournament|
|2005||Frank Leoni||34–21||18–6||1st (East)||NCAA Regional|
|2006||Jim Foster||35–14||19–6||1st||A-10 Tournament|
|2007||Jim Foster||23–29||16–11||5th||A-10 Tournament|
|2008||Jim Foster||31–27–1||15–11||5th||A-10 Tournament|
|2009||Jim Foster||37–20–1||19–6||2nd||A-10 Tournament|
|2010||Jim Foster||31–26||17–10||3rd||A-10 Tournament|
|2011||Jim Foster||31–22||16–8||2nd||A-10 Tournament|
|2012||Jim Foster||33–25–1||16–8||3rd||A-10 Tournament|
|2013||Jim Foster||34–25||17–7||t-1st||A-10 Tournament|
|2015||Raphael Cerrato||26–25–1||15–9||t-2nd||A-10 Tournament|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
Notable former players
The following is a list of notable former Rams.
Major League Baseball Draft
Between 2012 and 2014, the program had one MLB Draft selection in each season. In 2012, P Chris Pickering was drafted in the 32nd round by the San Francisco Giants; in 2013, outfielder Jeff Roy was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 18th round; and in 2014, pitcher Ty Sterner was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 23rd round.
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The new conference is an outgrowth of the old New England College Conference on Collegiate Athletics founded in 1923, but has the University of Vermont and been extended by the inclusion of broadened by provisions for championship selection.
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Leoni took the helm at Rhode Island in September of 1992 as the youngest Division I head coach in the nation, inheriting a program that went 8–25–1 the year before and was set for elimination.
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