At the end of April last season, the Seton Hall baseball team was still without an identity. Sitting one game under .500, the Pirates were on the outside looking in at the Big East Tournament.
This year, however, is different.
Going into their final weekend series of April, against the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Pirates are safely inside the field of eight teams that are currently in the Big East Tournament.
With a record of 23-18, Seton Hall went from being a struggling baseball school with a rich history, to a pitcher dominated school with hopes of competing for its second straight Big East Championship.
Led by junior pitcher Jon Prosinski, the Pirates are looking to erase last week’s series loss to Villanova with a win over the third worst team in the conference in West Virginia.
“There is a lot of parody in the conference, in every sport,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “You know each weekend you have to be ready for battle. Each weekend is important. We’re getting to the point where we playing teams that we were competitive with the last few years and we want to continue to stay strong in conference, beginning with Friday night.”
The Mountaineers are making their last trip to South Orange as a member of the Big East Conference.
With a 17-24 record, 5-10 in conference play, the Mountaineers have been disappointing this season after making the Big East Tournament last year.
Ryan McBroom is the leading hitter for West Virginia. Batting .316, McBroom sits tied for eighth in the conference with 33 RBIs. Additionally, Matt Frazer adds an offensive spark by hitting .308.
Frazer leads the conference with 18 doubles and is tied for 11th in slugging percentage.
Prosinski, who will face West Virginia in game one of the three game set on Friday night, will look to continue his recent success against Big East hitting.
“The stuff that I’ve done the last few weeks is attack hitters with first pitch strikes, as soon as you get ahead of the guys, that’s the biggest thing and making sure you get the first out of the inning,” Prosinski said. “Whenever there can be one out up there with no one on base it definitely kills rallies and sets the tone in their dugout and drops it down.”
Prosinski has won his last three starts, including 6.2 innings of two run baseball against Louisville and an eight inning performance against Villanova last week.
Sheppard said Prosinski is one of the most competitive players on the team.
“A lot of the guys here have a tremendous work ethic, but Jon is a little bit of a perfectionist,” Sheppard said. “He wants to do the best he possibly can. Every time he’s out he gives us his best effort. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Winners of two in a row, the Pirates host a West Virginia team that has not played since splitting a double header with Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Senior Chase Gray, who contributed a hit and a run in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Iona said the Pirates can’t overlook any team in the conference, regardless of their position in the standings.
“Every weekend we’re going to have to bring our next effort because you never know what happened,” Gray said. “We don’t worry about rankings we just do our best to play our best baseball, play our best defense, score as many runs as possible and pitch really well.”
The three game series begins on Friday afternoon with Prosinski’s first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. at Owen T. Carroll Field.
Tim LeCras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.