Kucher’s last season
Chris Kucher is excited for the month of June to arrive, and not because that’s when the major league baseball amateur draft takes place. A senior third baseman for Babson College, Kucher will enter the business world in June, not a minor league baseball complex.
Kucher readily acknowledges that his senior season at Babson will be his last year of competitive baseball. A business major from Westwood, he has already accepted a job in sales with Burlington-based Web marketing firm Acquia.
“Playing professionally was an initial goal going into college, but I soon realized that my aspirations lie in the business world,” said Kucher, 21. “Baseball is a love and a passion, but I don’t want it to be a career. I don’t want to be a Single A or Double A hero working for five years and then all of a sudden not have a job.”
For now, he’ll settle on being a hero for the Beavers. Kucher went 8-for-8 and reached base in 10 straight at bats during two games last Friday, going 3-for-3 with a pair of walks in an 8-2 win over Elmhurst. In the day’s second game, Kucher was 5-for-5 in a 10-3 loss to Dartmouth.
During his last four games Kucher is 12-for-16 for the Beavers (6-3). He has also walked four times, accounting for a lofty .800 on-base percentage during the stretch.
“He’s played in every game since his freshman year, and every year he’s improved,” said Babson coach Matt Noone. “He’s got a lot of physical ability, and as he’s matured, he has a better understanding of the mental part of the game. He’s an elite college hitter. Last year he started putting all the pieces together and getting good pitches to hit and getting into good hitter’s counts.”
Kucher has not missed a game in his career, starting 112 games. As a freshman, he batted .301 with six home runs and a .401 on base percentage. He followed that up with a successful sophomore season (.299, 4 home runs, .436) before exploding last season with a .354 batting average and a .491 on base percentage.
This year Kucher is batting an uncanny .531 (17-for-32) with two doubles, a home run and five RBI, proving that his eight-hit day was no one-hit wonder.
“I was seeing the ball really well that day and felt great at the plate,” said Kucher, a graduate of Xaverian Brothers High in Westwood. “Usually when you are seeing the ball that well it continues for the day. Those days are very rare, though. It was an awesome day.”
Babson’s chances of going far in the post-season rest with sophomore righthanded pitcher Michael Bortolotti of Milton High. After a sensational freshman season in 2011, in which he was named NEWMAC Rookie of the Year, Bortolotti hurt his arm during the summer and missed last year recovering from Tommy John surgery. Bortolotti is off to a 2-0 start this season and has allowed just one run in 17 innings (0.53 ERA) while holding opponents to a .140 batting average.
“It’s great to see him having success this season,” said Noone. “We struggled last year without him. He’s been lights out in his first three appearances, and he’s worked so hard to get back that he’s actually a better pitcher now.”
Canton’s Trevor Boyce has showed why he was named a captain during the early portion of the season. The senior outfielder from Catholic Memorial had four hits in his first game of the season and “made one of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” said Noone. Unfortunately, Boyce fractured a small bone in his hand making the catch and missed several games.
Boyce has worked his way back into the lineup and is batting .368 with a team-high three steals.
After playing in the shadows of his older brother for years, senior outfielder Mike Duffy of Milton is having a breakout season for the Beavers, batting .368 through five games. Duffy, whose brother Matt played at Vermont and at Tennessee before being drafted by the Houston Astros in 2011, has worked his way into the starting lineup after appearing in just 14 games in his first three seasons. “Mike has started off real hot for us,” said Noone. “His brother has been real successful and now it looks like it’s Mike’s turn to shine. We’re real happy for him.”
Matt Duffy was chosen in the 20th round of the 2011 MLB amateur draft and played at Single A Lexington last year in the South Atlantic League. He batted .280 with a team-high 16 home runs and led the league in being hit by a pitch 41 times.
Also contributing to the Babson lineup is Brendan Collins, a junior catcher from Abington and BC High, and sophomore catcher Joe Zanca from Braintree. Senior pitcher Brian Swanton (Foxborough) owns a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 innings of work.
Here and there
Milton’s Johnny Magliozzi has settled into the closer role for the University of Florida baseball team. The sophomore from the Dexter School in Brookline has four saves for the Gators (11-15) and owns a 2-0 record with a 2.35 ERA. The hard-throwing righthander has 19 strikeouts in 23 innings and did not issue a walk in his first 12 appearances covering 19.1 innings. Last year Magliozzi walked only five batters in 34 innings. . . .
East Bridgewater’s David Pierce was named Player of the Week in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference after batting .500 (3-for-6) in a doubleheader for the Bridgewater State baseball team. The senior first baseman had a double, five RBI, scored two runs, and added two sacrifice flies as the Bears split the twin bill with Rhode Island College. . . .
Plymouth’s Ben Maher was 4-for-4 and reached base a fifth time on a walk to help Mass Maritime score a 9-7 win over Becker. Maher also had two RBI. He also had three hits in the Bucs’ 13-12 setback to Bridgeport. Maher, a junior first baseman, is off to a torrid start, batting .560 (14-for-25) through the first seven games for the Bucs (3-4).