Matt Toke a game changer as SHU baseball heats up

After a fluctuating start to the season, it seems like the Seton Hall baseball team has finally found consistency at just the right time.

The Pirates are on a six-game winning streak after defeating Saint Peter’s on Wednesday, April 26 and with that, the inconsistent offense and pitching that has plagued this team all season has seemed to subside this past week.

Matt Toke a game changer as SHU baseball heats up. Photo via SHUAthletics.

During the winning streak, the Pirates are averaging more than nine runs a game, scoring in double digits in four of the wins while scoring nine in another.

Additionally, their starting staff allowed just three earned runs over the weekend slate against Georgetown.

The Pirates beat in-state rivals Rutgers twice in their midweek games last week before sweeping Georgetown at home.

While the team as a whole has improved, the insertion of freshman Matt Toke into the starting lineup has given the offense that extra jolt it has been looking for all season.

In his freshman season, Toke has started in 24 of the 35 games he has played in. His starts have come in bunches, however, as he has started each of the last eight games and has had nine starts since the calendar turned to April.

In the games Toke has started this month, the Pirates are 8-1. Toke himself is hitting .417 in his eight April starts with seven RBI in and seven runs scored.

Additionally, during Toke’s seven-game hitting streak which began on Saturday, April 15 against Xavier, he has raised his batting average more than 60 points from .231 to .302.

Toke’s production as of late has helped the Pirates’ recent surge, but this isn’t anything new.

In the 24 contests that Toke has started this season, he is hitting .303 with an on-base percentage of .420, as opposed to just a .167 batting average and a .231 on-base percentage in games in which he has come off the bench.

In his last 19 starts, dating back to the March 8 game at Stetson in which Toke doubled and scored twice, the Pirates have a 14-5 record.

Toke now leads the team in batting average among those who have played more than 15 games this season. He has become the everyday first baseman for the Pirates over the last several games, taking the place of the injured Mikael-Ali Mogues.

Toke has led a bit of a youth movement that has rejuvenated the Pirates over the last handful of games. Fellow first year Tyler Shedler-McAvoy has started seven of the last thirteen games, and launched his first career homer against Xavier over Easter weekend along with totaling three RBI in the April 19 game against Rutgers. Sophomore pitcher Matt Ponsiglione has also seen increased action, throwing 3.2 innings last week without allowing an earned run out of the bullpen.

Matt Ambrose is a journalism major from Exeter, N.H. He can be reached at matthew.ambrose1@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @mambrose97.

Author: Matt Ambrose

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