Layne Jr. dazzles as Pirates pick up second consecutive conference sweep

The Seton Hall baseball team completed its sweep of the Villanova Wildcats with an 11-2 win on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Pirates moved to 20-15-1 on the year and 8-1 in the Big East, the team’s best start in-conference since 1989.

Billy Layne Jr. took the mound for The Hall and set the tone for the Pirates early. Never facing any true threat, Layne Jr. breezed through the Wildcat lineup with nine strikeouts through five-shutout innings.

Sean Barry/Staff Photographer

“He’s at his best when he attacks the zone and that’s exactly what he did today,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “He was throwing a lot of strikes with a lot of different pitches.”

The sophomore right-hander picked up the win, going six innings deep, giving up two runs on two hits, with the runs coming on a two-run homerun in the sixth.

“Mike [Alescio] was calling a good game, we had a good mix of the sinker and the slider and attacking them early with the fastball,” Layne Jr. said. “We worked inside and then went away with the off-speed.”

After only managing two runs in the victory on Saturday, the Pirates’ offense erupted for 11 runs on nine hits to complete the sweep. Five different Pirates picked up RBIs, highlighted by Al Molina’s three-RBI performance and Casey Dana’s two-run homerun to left in the bottom of the seventh.

“That’s what we call ‘linking up’ our lineup,” Sheppard said. “If we’re able to hit one through nine, we’re going to have a lot more success. There’s opportunities throughout the lineup and it’s good to see guys taking advantage of it.”

For Seton Hall, it is the team’s second conference series sweep in a row, after the team was able to take all three games from Butler in Indiana from April 20-22. The Pirates’ early season conference success has largely been in part to their pitching, which has held opposing offenses to two runs or fewer in five of the last six conference games.

“It starts with the starting pitching,” Sheppard said. “Our starters have done a really good job of keeping us in the game and giving us quality starts with the guys out of the bullpen being really good. The combination of starting pitching and guys coming out of the bullpen have really given us a boost towards our success this early.”

The Pirates will look to continue that success when they take on Saint Peter’s at home on Tuesday, May 1, before a weekend series on the road against Creighton.

Nick Santoriello can be reached at nicholas.santoriello@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @NickSantoriello.

Author: Nicholas Santoriello

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