Baseball team to play in University of Virginia Tournament

Entering the weekend with a 2-5 record, the Seton Hall baseball team will play in the University of Virginia Tournament in Charlottesville, Va.

“We haven’t been playing like the Big East Championship team we were last year,” junior Giuseppe Papaccio said. “I think we are lacking a tiny bit of confidence right now, but once we start to trust the athletes we are, the ability we have, the experience we have, I think we will be better.”

The Pirates will play a total of four games against two teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season, Virginia and Wright State. Wright State played in the College Station Regional with the Pirates, but the two teams did not play. On the other hand, the Cavaliers made it to the College World Series, and were one game away from making the Championship series.

“It helps you tremendously,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “You get the chance to play against teams at a very high level, and I think it really prepares you down the road.”

In the Pirates first seven games of the season, the biggest problem has been the offense. The Hall averages only 3.7 runs a game while batting just .207 as a team. Freshman Kyle Grimm is the only regular batting over .300 with a .375 average and four RBI’s.

The pitching staff has not been a bright spot either with a team ERA of 4.40 and no starter going more than six innings in a start. Last season’s ERA leader in the Big East, junior Jon Prosinski, has a record of 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA and a .317 batting average against in two starts.

“We are just really inconstant on a number of things,” Sheppard said. “Our defense at times lacked. Our pitching isn’t there, and offensively we’re inconstant.”

Opening the three-team tournament, the Pirates will face Wright State at 12 p.m. on Friday. The Raiders come into the weekend with a 1-5 record after getting swept by No. 6 North Carolina last weekend.

Wright State has struggled tremendously through its first six games, scoring only 1.6 runs a game while allowing 8.3 runs per game. Senior Ryan Ashe leads the Raiders with a .409 batting average, but has only driven in one run and scored two. The pitching staff has also had their fair share of problems with the Raiders holding a 7.13 team ERA with the three starting pitchers a combined 0-3.

“Quality at-bats,” sophomore Zack Granite said the team needed to improve. “We have worked on working the pitcher and getting quality at-bats. Last weekend was our worst weekend, we only had about 37 percent quality at-bats so if we move that up, we will score more runs and win more.”

The Pirates will play their second game of the weekend Saturday at 12 p.m. against Virginia. The Cavaliers hold a 5-2-1 record and average over 7.5 runs per game.

Three players hit over .300l, including Virginia senior Jared King who holds a .452 average, including 11 RBI’s and a .710 slugging percentage. Although Virginia allows 3.9 runs a game, the pitching staff is led by the combination of senior Scott Silverman and junior Whit Mayberry. Both players have an identical 1.50 ERA and batters are hitting .079 versus Silverman through two starts.

“They are an ACC team,” Granite said. “So anytime you beat an ACC team, especially from the Big East, is good. Up north people don’t think you should beat teams down south.”

The Pirates close out play with two games on Sunday starting with an 11 a.m. matchup against Wright State followed by Virginia again at 3 p.m.

“I think it’s all confidence,” Papaccio said. “So, if we get our confidence back with a good weekend, we can turn the page and get back to where we were.”

Stephen Valenti can be reached at stephen.valenti@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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