DiRocco stays locked in on the mound
As he stands bent over on the pitcher’s mound, gripping the baseball in his hand while staring down the opposing hitter at bat, senior right-handed pitcher Joe DiRocco isn’t worried about his statistics, awards or professional scouts in the stands; he simply wants to be the player leading his team and striking a few hitters out while at it.
Wearing No. 18 on his jersey, DiRocco has had the start to a final season any student-athlete could hope for.
With half of the season remaining, the Seton Hall baseball team has a record slightly under .500 with 14 wins and 15 losses, including a 3-1 upset win over No. 24 North Carolina in February.
“We’ve been getting some wins, but more wins at home would be nice,” DiRocco said. “Other than that our defense has been playing well and our pitching has been well. We just got to hit a little more and that’s it.”
Fueling that power on the mound is DiRocco with his 4-0 undefeated personal record and 1.23 earned run average. He has also received six honors, four of which have been Big East pitcher of the Week.
“I’m trying,” DiRocco said. “I’m just trying to lead for the young guys.”
Warming up the same way before every Saturday game, DiRocco has taken charge, trying to pitch his team to victory while facing the heavy hitting Red Storm.
Despite the 4-3 loss to St. John’s on Saturday, DiRocco allowed only one run over seven innings while striking out six.
On March 26 in Philadelphia against Villanova in game two of their three game set, DiRocco led the Pirates to a 9-0 victory, throwing a complete game shutout allowing only seven hits in nine innings.
DiRocco’s performance against the Wildcats landed him his fourth weekly honor this season.
One weekend beforehand, DiRocco was named Big East Pitcher of the Week after completing a 2-0 game shutout against Stony Brook during the 2011 Strike Out Cancer Tournament.
Out of the 94 pitches DiRocco threw, 67 of those were strikes.
In the upset over No. 24 North Carolina on Feb. 27, the Pirates delivered the Tar Heels their first loss of the season, winning 3-1. Behind DiRocco’s pitching, Seton Hall battled in the first few innings to take the lead and eventually go on to win.
On Feb. 20 at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge in St. Petersburg, Fla., DiRocco allowed two hits over eight shutout innings in Seton Hall’s 2-0 win against Iowa.
DiRocco’s outing against the Hawkeyes earned him three awards in one weekend: his first award as Big East Pitcher of the Week of the season, all-tournament team and InsidePitching.com Northeast Regional Performance of the Week.
DiRocco started out rough against Iowa, walking their leadoff hitter and making an error that moved the runner to second base, however he persevered by picking that same runner off second base for the first out of the inning.
“When you make a mistake, that’s when you got to bear down,” DiRocco said. “That’s when you make your toughest pitches and get out of making a mistake.”
By being named Big East Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 20 and 27 as well as March 20 and 27, DiRocco has become the first conference pitcher to win this award four times since Boston College’s Chris Lambert in 2003.
After the season ends, with or without the awards, DiRocco hopes to continue playing baseball professionally.
“A couple of scouts have been coming to the games but not really,” DiRocco said. “Hopefully, it works out. We’ll see. It doesn’t matter where in particular. It doesn’t matter – any team would be good. Just to be given the chance would be nice.”
Krissy Wrobel can be reached at email@example.com.