The Seton Hall baseball team returned to South Orange on Saturday and split a doubleheader against the University of Albany.
Center fielder Tyler Shedler-McAvoy took charge in game one as he tripled to right-center field in the bottom of the first inning. Matt Toke sent Shedler-McAvoy home on a fly out to left field, putting the Pirates on top at 1-0.
However, the opposing side did not give the baseball team a break as a walk and a double down the third base line leveled the score. The Pirates fell under with a two-run inning from Albany at the top of the fourth and an extra score in the fifth, giving Albany a 4-1 lead.
A late game stretch in the seventh inning saw Collin Sheehan hit a single through right field that led to a Will Gale score. Gale reached on an error and stole a base in the same inning to give the Pirates momentum. Their valiant effort was followed by a reach from Jonathan Luders that sent Zack Sylvester home, cutting the lead to 1 with plenty of time left in the game.
Unfortunately, Seton Hall only had an additional two empty hits and dropped the first game on Saturday 4-3. The baseball team cycled through five different pitchers to hold off a well-rested Albany team as this was their season opener. Strong performances from Shedler-McAvoy and Casey Dana, who batted .333 and .409 on the season respectively, kept them in until the final pitches.
Early season struggles for the Pirates looked non-existent in the following game as they seemed to surprise themselves. A slow start for both Seton Hall and Albany gave way for an outstanding five-run inning from the Pirates.
Jerry Huntzinger, who batted .367 on the season, started off with an RBI to send Jace Baqui home. Toke then sent Huntzinger home off a flyball to left field. Dana and Mike Esposito followed suit with a two-run homerun and a single to put the Pirates ahead 5-0.
Both sides clicked for the baseball team this evening. Toke flied out once again to give Luders the path to home for the lone fourth inning score. Huntzinger and Shedler-McAvoy stayed hot in the fifth with a collective three RBI in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 9-0.
Although the fifth inning closed with a man on base, this concluded a strong three inning stretch for the Pirates as Albany was only able to get a single hit on the board.
Up big, the Pirates connected again in the seventh and eighth innings to put the game away. Huntzinger scored off a Thomas Holdorf ground-out, and Huntzinger then sent Baqui home to shut out the game 12-0.
A strong pitching performance from Nick Payero set the Pirates up for success. With a 0 ERA and a single hit in 5 innings, Payero clearly made sure he left his mark on the game.
Mark Anderson and David Festa followed suit with no hits coming after Payero’s exit. A four-game skid finally came to an end in the Pirates romping of Albany in their second game, and Seton Hall will look to carry that momentum over into Friday's series against NJIT.
Thomas Donnelly can be reached at email@example.com.