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Pirates drop two of three to Liberty

The Seton Hall Pirates baseball team lost two out of three games this weekend against Liberty. The weekend began with promise after a 5-4 victory over the Flames on Friday afternoon but quickly turned south with back to back close losses on Saturday and Sunday. The stumbles against the Flames put the Pirates at 3-3 with ample time to go in the season, including the entirety of Big East play.

Game one, by far the highlight of the weekend in Lynchburg, Virginia, saw the continuation of a torrid streak to start the season by Connor Hood and a stellar outing by Matt Toke. Toke went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Hood added an RBI single. Hood was tied for the team lead with 5 RBI’s and lead the team with a .429 average coming into the weekend.

The Pirates plundered Liberty’s ship early on Friday with Casey Dana knocking in the game’s first run. Toke doubled the lead to 2-0 with an RBI single in the third. The offensive exploits of Toke and Dana were backed up by Ryan McLinskey. McLinskey went 5.2 innings to get the win, the first of his junior campaign, striking out eight batters and only allowing two runs.

Photo via SHU Athletics

The Pirates extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth after a Liberty fielding error brought home senior Mike Esposito. Liberty responded with two runs in the fourth, but the Pirates got insurance in the eighth with RBI singles from Steve Grober and Hood. Liberty added two more runs to cut the lead to 5-4 but closer Corey Sawyer slammed the door shut with a scoreless ninth.

The good vibes produced by Friday’s triumph subsided as the Flames prevailed in the series’ next two games. Noah Thompson, seen by many as the team’s ace after the departure of Ricky DeVito, allowed only one earned run in 6.2 innings, but his defense betrayed him as two additional Liberty runs were unearned. Casey Dana had an RBI ground out and freshman Staus Pokrovsky had an RBI single in the 3-2 loss.

In the series finale, Hood finished 4-for-5 and had 2 RBI’s, including an RBI single that gave the Pirates an early lead in the third inning. However, Liberty struck for a grand slam off starter David Festa that staked them to a 4-1 lead which they would not relinquish. An RBI double from Devin Hack and an RBI single from Hood cut the Liberty lead to 4-3 in the 5th, but the Pirate bats went cold after that and Liberty prevailed 5-3.

The Pirates return to action and make their California dreams a reality with a three-game series in Los Angeles against USC beginning Feb. 28.

Matthew Collins can be reached at

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