The Seton Hall baseball team, along with Big East-leading St. John’s, stand atop the standings with a combined conference record of 19-2. The other five teams in the conference have just 16 wins between them. Butler, at 4-4, is the only other team without a losing conference record.
The Pirates and Red Storm are not just pacing the conference, the two frontrunners have blown the rest of the Big East out of the water in 2018.
St. John’s, at 11-1 in the Big East, boasts the hottest offense in the conference, batting .336 as a team and scoring more than eight runs per conference matchup. The numbers put up by the Red Storm have been historic, none more so than the game following their only Big East loss when they unleashed a relentless 34 runs against Xavier on April 28, winning 34-7.
St. John’s broke its all-time single-game scoring record that day, as 14 different batters recorded a combined 31 hits against the Musketeers.
Eight individual batters are hitting over .300 for St. John’s, paced by a one-two punch of John Valente, (.390) and Wyatt Mascarella (.383), at the top of the order. Further down, Josh Shaw leads the conference with 17 runs batted in, while Anthony Brocato leads the team with seven home runs on the year.
While St. John’s has been dominant at the plate all season, the Pirates have also been hitting well recently. Along with an 8-1 conference record, the Pirates are batting .296 in Big East play, second-best in the Big East, and a notable improvement on their .272 season average. The Pirates are averaging just under six runs a game in conference play, but showed in a 28-8 thrashing of Princeton on April 11 that they are also capable of ripping pitchers apart on any day.
Although the Pirates lack the consistent on-base presence of the Red Storm, Seton Hall gets more out of its baserunners than anyone else in the Big East. The Hall has stolen 19 bases on 23 attempts, good for an 82.6 percent success rate. Nobody else has attempted to steal more than 18 bases, and Xavier at 73.3 percent is a distant second place in stealing efficiency.
The Red Storm has the edge on offense, but Seton Hall strikes back by separating itself from both St. John’s and the rest of the Big East on the mound. The Pirates’ pitching staff has posted a 1.89 ERA, while allowing opponents to bat only .203 through nine conference games. Both of those marks are the best in the conference.
St. John’s is second in each of these categories. Red Storm pitchers have put up a 2.58 ERA, averaging nine strikeouts per game while allowing a .225 batting average.
While Seton Hall’s team pitching stands out on the stats sheet, individual pitchers shine brightly too. Starter Ricky DeVito has allowed only two earned runs in 19.2 innings of Big East baseball, translating to an ERA of 0.93, second-best among starting pitchers in the conference. Meanwhile, relievers Matt Leon and Corey Sawyer have yet to allow an earned run in 15 combined innings, and Leon leads the Big East with four saves.
Sharing similarities offensively and defensively, Seton Hall and St. John’s continue to win thanks to excellence in opposite parts of the game. Both sides must keep winning to stave off the other, but neither squad shows any signs of letting up.
The Pirates and Red Storm have turned the seven-team Big East baseball conference into a two-horse race for the regular season title, one which may be decided when the two teams battle strength-for-strength at Owen T. Carroll Field beginning on May 11.
Kyle Beck can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @notkylebeck.