DARTMOUTH, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth baseball senior Taylor Cacciola (West Greenwich, R.I.) collected a pair of regional accolades late last week, earning Second Team All-New England honors from both the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA).
In addition, Cacciola and classmate Ezequiel Sanchez (Mantai, Puerto Rico) will participate in the 2017 NEIBA Joe Walsh All-Star Game, to be held Friday, June 2 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I. Cacciola and Sanchez are two of 16 Division III seniors and 13 Division II players to be selected to the College Division roster.
The All-Region nod is Cacciola’s first on his four-year Corsair career, following his selection to the Little East Conference Second Team earlier this month. The first baseman put together a stellar season at the dish, powering the UMass Dartmouth offense with his team-best .380 batting average. His 60 hits consisted of 18 doubles, a triple and six home runs to drive in 35 RBIs. Cacciola owned a team-high .487 on-base percentage and .620 slugging percentage in 44 games, scoring 33 runs. During his season-high 13-game hit streak from March 17 to April 8, the West Greenwich, R.I. native completed a trio of three-hit outings, including a 3-for-4, 3-RBI performance with a homer against #23 Salve Regina. Defensively, he was just as sharp, posting a .987 fielding percentage at first with 275 put-outs and only four errors.
Cacciola closes his time at UMass Dartmouth ranking in amongst the career leaders in several categories. With a career average of .343, he owns the 22nd-highest mark in program history, and sits 12th all-time with 162 hits. Forty-four of his hits went for doubles, which is the fourth-best total in UMass Dartmouth history. All said, Cacciola drove in 90 RBIs on his career and launched 10 home runs.
Sanchez joins Cacciola as an All-Star Game participant, along with UMass Boston’s Dan Mantoni and Eastern Connecticut’s Alex Zachary who comprise the four LEC representatives. In his lone season as a Corsair, Sanchez batted .356 in 40 games as the everyday left-fielder. He drove in 27 RBIs on 52 hits including 12 doubles, two triples and four homers, with a .427 on-base percentage and .548 slugging percentage. In the outfield, Sanchez owned a .978 fielding percentage, committing merely two errors on the season with 84 put-outs. The Mantai, Puerto Rico product sparked UMass Dartmouth in several LEC series along with the LEC Tournament, during which he batted .318 with five hits and a pair of RBIs and a perfect fielding performance.
UMass Dartmouth advanced to its first LEC title game since 2013 to culminate a 25-20 overall record on the 2017 season. Under seventh-year head coach Bob Prince, the Corsairs secured the No. 3 seed for the conference tournament after going 9-5 in LEC competition and racked up eight wins against eventual NCAA Tournament teams. UMass Dartmouth knocked top-seeded Southern Maine out of the LEC Tournament before falling to UMass Boston in the championship contest.