The Seton Hall baseball team (4-2) will travel to Arizona this weekend for a three-game series against the No. 22 Wildcats (6-2).
The Pirates are winners of three straight following last weekend’s sweep in Richmond. For his efforts in the series, junior first baseman Sal Annunziata earned Big East Player of the Week honors. Annunziata was 7-13 in the Richmond series driving home six runs and scoring five of his own.
“I think the most important thing was that we got the sweep, I wouldn’t have had the week that I had if guys weren’t getting on base,” Annunziata said. “It’s always cool to get something like that, but it doesn’t stop there, it’s only the beginning.”
Sophomore Zack Weigel reached base 11 times, picking up six hits and four runs with two RBIs.
The success of the team was not only highlighted by the offense but also the strong pitching of senior ace Josh Prevost. Prevost pitched a complete game in the opener, striking out eight batters and allowing only two runs, improving his record to 2-0.
Prevost is scheduled to pitch on Friday in the opener of the series against Arizona.
“Game one probably dictates the rest of the series,” Prevost said. “Arizona is a very talented team on the offensive side as well as pitching.”
The Wildcats are also on their own three- game winning streak following their sweep of Alcorn State in which they outscored the Braves 31-2.
The Pirates faced Arizona in the Regional playoffs in 2011, the season Seton Hall was crowned champions of the Big East. The then-freshman Prevost watched from the dugout as former teammate Jon Prosinski, threw a complete game shutout and led the Pirates to a 4-0 victory in game one of the series.
“J-Pro (Prosinski) led the way a couple of years ago and showed us what it takes to shut them down,” Prevost said. “I’ve faced guys in summer ball and what not and to be honest I’m not intimidated by anybody.”
The Pirates’ pitching staff has not quite yet developed a full starting rotation. They have a one-two-punch with Prevost and junior south-paw Anthony Elia, but do not have anybody locked down in the third position. Right now the starter for Sunday’s game against Arizona has yet to be determined.
Head coach Rob Sheppard alluded to an exciting battle for the third spot in the rotation.
“Not having the ability to get out there on a consistent basis and extend guys in practice, we’ve been giving guys a lot of opportunities,” Sheppard said. “We have some quality guys we’d like to give those opportunities to and we’d like to see who can win those roles.”
In the season’s first series against Oklahoma, sophomore Luke Cahill got the start on Sunday and struggled early and was picked up by a great performance in long relief from sophomore Sam Burum. This past Sunday, in the Richmond series, the roles were reversed as Burum was quickly relieved by Cahill after giving up two runs in just 2.1 innings of work.
While that mystery is being solved, Sheppard has also juggled around the defensive alignment of the young infield. The Pirates defense was sharper in the Richmond series, only making three errors. “Part of it is getting out there and getting back to the consistency of playing on a natural surface,” Sheppard said.
“Part of it is getting a lot more reps and a lot more experience, but I think as the season progresses we’ll get much better defensively.” The series will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday at Hi Corbett Field, then continues Saturday at 8 p.m. and finishes at noon on Sunday.
Gerard Gilberto can be reached at email@example.com.