Hall looks to erase last Cincy loss
It was the 10th inning in the final game of the season last year when Cincinnati Bearcat junior Lance Durham broke a 5-5 tie with a single through the right side of the infield.
The Pirates’ season ended on this walk-off loss in Ohio.
Seton Hall will look for revenge this weekend when the rival Bearcats head to South Orange for a three game series.
The Pirates will also be playing for their second Big East win.
Their current conference record stands at 1-5, 11-14 overall.
Cincinnati is 2-4 in conference play and 13-12 overall.
“On paper, both teams seem to be pitching the ball well, it is a tough conference as always,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “Every weekend is extremely important.”
The Pirates pitching staff holds a 3.96 earned run average this season, bolstered by junior starter Joe DiRocco’s 3.24 in seven starts.
Also, sophomore reliever Collin McGowan has a 1.69 ERA in 14 appearances.
DiRocco also leads the team in innings pitched, 41.2, and strikeouts, 34.
Seton Hall has a team batting average of .246 so far this season, compared to opponents’ .259 clip.
However, the Pirates have struck out just 129 times combined, while their opponents have 160.
Senior outfielder Michael Rogers leads the Pirates with his .349 average.
Junior infielder A.J. Rubarsky leads the team with 15 runs batted in.
“We need to start hitting fastballs earlier in the count,” Sheppard said.
“We’ve done a good job with our two strike approach but we just need to be more aggressive earlier in the count.”
There are only three seniors and one graduate player on Seton Hall’s roster this season.
However, the young team’s goals remain the same no matter their age and experience.
“We always set goals, regardless of the age of the team. We have a good group of juniors that have been very productive and our senior class is doing a very good job with their leadership,” Sheppard said.
“But our goal is always to get in the tournament, to win the tournament, and go on to regionals. We always try to be contenders.”
The Pirates’ lone Big East win came in their first conference game against West Virginia on March 26.
In that 2-0 victory, DiRocco started and had a complete game three hitter. He struck out nine and only walked one batter.
Since that lone conference victory against the Mountaineers, the Hall has lost every Big East game by at least three runs.
The team is coming off back to back wins against Army, 6-2, and Fairleigh Dickinson, 6-5, this week.
Seton Hall was down 6-2 against the Knights on Wednesday until an eighth inning rally was capped by senior outfielder Chris Spagnuolo’s single up the middle, putting the Pirates ahead 6-5 for the win.
“Any time you rally in the bottom of the eighth inning it’s tremendous,” Sheppard said. “I think the guys will really strive off of that win and build some confidence.”
Nine of Seton Hall’s 11 wins have come at home this season, while their only road win was recorded at William and Mary.
Luckily for the Pirates their next seven games will be played in South Orange over the next two weeks.
Friday’s game against the Bearcats will be played under the lights of Owen T. Carroll Field at 6 p.m., while Saturday’s game will start at 1 p.m., and the final matchup will begin at noon on Sunday.
“We’ve had some bright spots and right now we’re starting to play a lot better as a team. We seem to be hitting on all facets as of late; our offense is starting to come around and our defense has been there all year.” Sheppard said. “It’s just a matter of us being consistent in all three aspects, pitching hitting and defense.”
Matthew Bryant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.