The Seton Hall baseball team had a tough outing against in-state rival Monmouth Wednesday as the Hawks jumped on the Pirates early en route to a 10-3 victory.
John LaRocca got things started for the Hawks with a leadoff double off of Billy Layne Jr., which was followed by two consecutive singles, bringing LaRocca across the plate. Layne appeared to get things under control after striking out two straight, but after hitting Matt Graber with a pitch and some mental errors in the field, Monmouth scored two more in the inning to take a 3-0 lead.
The Pirates scored a run of their own in the bottom of the first inning when Mike Alescio came up with the RBI single to score Al Molina and make it a 3-1 game.
“[A] 3-1 count, I remember I was just looking for a good pitch, wasn’t looking to walk and he gave me a slider and I just stayed up the middle with it,” Alescio said.
Monmouth kept the pressure on in the second inning as Dylan Verdonk came in to pitch for the Pirates. It was Nick Campana this time knocking in two runs with a double to left center, followed by a triple from Matt Graber to give the Hawks the 6-1 edge.
In the third inning, Monmouth extended its lead with another three-run inning off freshman pitcher Hunter Waldis, who gave up three hits and walked two. The Hawks added one more run in the fourth as J.P. Walsh’s single made it 10-1.
Blake Espinal was the lone Seton Hall pitcher to last more than an inning as he locked down the Hawks in the fifth and sixth, holding them to one hit. The rest of the bullpen picked up where he left off, keeping Monmouth scoreless for the last five innings.
Seton Hall put up two more runs in the seventh inning. Connor Hood’s double to left brought in Tyler Shedler-McAvoy, then a Jerry Hutzinger ground-out to third eventually brought Hood across the plate.
Coach Rob Sheppard made use of the out-of-conference game to give his more inexperienced players a chance, as well as some everyday players. In total, 25 Pirates saw action, including Matt Toke who has been battling injury since mid-March. However, Sheppard said after the game Toke still did not feel 100 percent.
Sheppard admitted there were positives to pull from the game, including giving his young guys some experience, but knows the team needs to be ready to play Big East teams.
“They got to be ready for conference play,” Sheppard said. “We have to pick ourselves up, regroup and be ready for this weekend.”
The Pirates will play again on April 20 as they travel to Indianapolis, Ind. for the first game of a three-game series against Butler.
Keith Egan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Keith_egan10.