In the final tune up game before their Big East schedule, the baseball team defeated in-state opponent Monmouth University, 9-1, on Wednesday at Owen T. Carroll Field.
Junior catcher/designated hitter Frank Esposito was 2-3 with a homerun, a double and three RBIs.
“I think it was good big for us to put up a nine spot,” Esposito said. “It’s big for our offense to score nine runs because our pitchers do a good job in the Big East. It’s no secret that we have to score runs.”
Freshman pitcher Rick Mangione got his first win as a Pirate. He pitched 4.1 innings, gave up one run on three hits, while striking out three.
“They did a great job,” Esposito said. “Ricky gave us a quality start and had a good fastball. Jake (Porcello) came in from the pen and showed he can get some outs.”
Sophomore outfielder Will Walsh was 1-3 in the game. He scored three runs in the victory.
Hawk centerfielder Josh Boyd led the game off with a line drive base hit to centerfield and later stole second base.
Mangione retired the next two Monmouth hitters and appeared to get the third out as well, but Hawk first baseman Mike Casole’s groundball up the middle was kicked around by Pirate senior second baseman Chris Fontenelli, allowing Boyd to score from second.
This was the only run that Monmouth would score in the game.
The Pirate’s offense was slow to start, as they had only one hit in the first two innings off of Hawk starter Chris Perret.
In the third inning, the Pirates scored two runs.
Walsh and senior outfielder Mike Rogers each walked on four pitches. Then Esposito hit a two-run double to right center field, scoring both Walsh and Rogers.
The Hall would score two more runs in the fifth when Walsh scored on a balk and sophomore first baseman Mike Betz hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored junior A.J. Rusbarsky, giving the Pirates a 4-1 lead.
The Pirates pushed the lead to 8-1 in the seventh when Esposito hit a monster homerun to dead centerfield.
“I had no idea where it was going,” Esposito said. “I haven’t hit a homerun yet and I haven’t been hitting the ball well either.”
The Pirates ended their early non-conference schedule 8-9, and went 6-2 in their last eight games.
Head coach Rob Sheppard said their schedule prepared the team for conference play.
“The early part of the season served its purpose,” Sheppard said. “It’s all
about getting our team ready.”
A big reason the Hall’s play turned around could be their return to Owen T. Carroll Field. The Pirates started the season 1-5, with all games being played on the road, and were home during their recent stretch of improved play.
Sheppard said it’s always good to be home during the tough competition of conference play.
“It’s always exciting to get going with Big East play,” he said. “It sets the tone for the whole season and it’s good to do it in front of the home crowd.”
West Virginia (11-10) is coming off their own home stretch of 11 games.
The Mountaineers fare much better at home than away, going 8-3 at home. Their series against Seton Hall will be their first Big East games of the season as well.
The Mountaineer’s offense has been much more effective than the Pirates’ so far. West Virginia as a team is hitting .298 on the season with 14 home runs as opposed to just a .260 average and two home runs for the Pirates.
The Pirates have the edge when it comes to comparing the pitching staffs. Seton Hall’s 3.73 team ERA is far lower than West Virginia’s 7.24 team ERA.
Junior Joe DiRocco is set to pitch game one of the series, followed by sophomore Benny Mejia in game two and freshman Jon Prosinski in game three.
Tim LeCras can be reached at timothy..firstname.lastname@example.org.
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