Benefit tournament ‘hits home’ for Hall
The baseball team comes home this weekend to participate in the fifth annual Strike Out Cancer Tournament after beginning the season on a 12-game road trip.
The Pirates lost the first nine games of the trip, but righted the ship last weekend by sweeping Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif.
“Part of the scheduling process is to schedule teams that are going to challenge you,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “A lot of the early games will prepare you for later in the season. I think we’ll be better because of the tougher games that we played early on in the season.”
Senior Mike Genovese said that picking up the first win was a morale booster for the team.
“When we won Friday, we felt that we were finally clicking,” Genovese said. “The lineup was working all together as one lineup; we weren’t working individually. Our pitching staff did awesome. It felt like it did last year when we were winning.”
Sheppard echoed his second basemen’s comments on the team playing well as a whole in the series.
“We did a really good job of playing well in all facets,” he said. “Our lineup began to hit as a group as opposed to individuals in that lineup. The challenge is to continue to play consistently.”
Last year the Pirates consistently played well on Owen T. Carroll Field, going 19-6 on the turf field.
“I think you like to play at home,” Sheppard said. “There’s not as much travel involved and you want to protect your home.”
Not only do the Pirates have success at home, but are also 13-1 all-time in the Strike Out Cancer Tournament.
“I think it’s a really good event,” Sheppard said. “It gives us an opportunity to use our sport to give back to the American Cancer Society. I think it’s really important for our guys. Everybody’s been touched one way or another by cancer. This allows us to put it out in the forefront.”
Sheppard said that he is a cancer survivor, so the tournament “hits home.”
Genovese’s said his best friend’s mother has cancer, and said he like playing in this tournament every season.
“There’s never enough money that can go to cancer,” he said.
The Pirates open up the tournament on Friday with a doubleheader against Massachusetts and Manhattan. The teams have not met since 1998, but the Hall holds a 3-1 all-time record against Massachusetts.
Manhattan, on the other hand, is a familiar foe. The teams have met each year since 2009, with the Jaspers holding a 3-1 advantage during that span.
The head coach of the Jaspers, Jim Duffy, is a former Seton Hall player and assistant coach. In his first year, he was on the Pirates’ 2001 Big East Championship title staff.
According to Sheppard, cancer survivors will be throwing out the first pitch during games.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.