The 2022 college baseball season opened up around the country on February 18th with one of the games being the Seton Hall Pirates visiting the Tar Heels of North Carolina on their home turf, Bashamer Stadium, to a home crowd of just over two thousand.
Senior Nick Payero got the ball for Seton Hall, and junior southpaw Brandon Schaeffer got the nod for Carolina. The Pirates were down two of their infield leaders going into this game, with senior Alex Clyde and junior Jonathan Leuders out with injury.
The Pirates showed promise out of the gate, with a leadoff single and eventual steal of second by Will Gale, followed by a single from junior Devin Hack. This set the table for the New-Mexico St. transfer Mark McNelly, who singled in one to center. The next batter, freshman Callan Moss, also aided in going the other way and grounding into a double play which allowed the second run in Hack to score.
The Tar Heels were quick to respond in dramatic and slugging fashion, putting up back-to-back homeruns in the bottom half of the inning from juniors Angel Zarate and Danny Serretti. From that point on, the Tar Heels did not look back.
The next inning the Tar Heels put up another three runs, to the credit of sophomore Johnny Castagnozzi doubling, freshman Vance Honeycutt walking, and sophomore Patrick Alvarez bringing them home. After his rough first inning, Schaeffer settled in, only allowing two hits and striking out six. Shaeffer, a WVU Potomac State transfer, shockingly and abruptly took on the Friday starting role in practice, but certainly made the most of his opportunity.
The 6th inning truly opened the game up, with some mental and physical mistakes in the field that caused Carolina to extend their lead over the Pirates to 9-2. Senior Steve Grober sixth career homerun in the 7th added one for the Pirates, but they went silent after that.
North Carolina hit two more homeruns the rest of the game, both from freshman Vance Honeycutt, totaling five collectively on the afternoon. The final was a score of 14-3.
The Seton Hall Pirates sought to bounce back and even up the series in game two of three against the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tar Heels sent out sophomore Max Carlson to the bump and Seton Hall used graduate student Hunter Waldis.
After going down 1-2-3 in the first, the Pirates handed the ball to one of their graduate students, Hunter Waldis. Waldis and the Pirates struggled early, allowing UNC to put up a two spot in the second on three errors.
The top of the second brought more of the same, with Tar Heel freshman Vance Honeycutt hitting his third collegiate homerun in two games. Pirate errors continued to pile up, this time on a Mark McNelly overthrow, allowing Johnny Castagnozzi to score from second after singling to get on. Despite the four total errors, Hunter Waldis did total six strikeouts and only two earned runs out of the six to his total over four innings of play.
The Pirates handed the ball off to freshman Daniel Frontera in the bottom of the fifth, and despite giving up an RBI double, struck out two batters in the frame.
The Hall threatened in the seventh, putting two men on with two singles from Collin Sheehan and Pat D’Amico. The runners eventually got to second and third due to sloppy play in the field from North Carolina, but they could not get any runners across.
The Pirates got into a bases loaded jam and called on Aaron Groller in relief. Sophomores Johnny Castagnozzi and Patrick Alvarez stayed hot and drove in RBI singles to extend the Tar Heels lead to 11-0. Reece Holbrook also added to the barrage with his first collegiate base hit being a two-run single.
The Pirates got déjà vu from Friday as the Tar Heels did not slow down, putting up ten runs in the 7th inning alone. The runs continued to pile up, and the final score concluded with a shutout of 19-0.
The Pirates look to take the final game of the series on Sunday, as first pitch is set for 1pm. The starting pitcher for Seton Hall will be senior Brennan O’Neill, and the Tar Heels will go with graduate student Shaddon Peavyhouse.
The Pirates looked to take the third and final game of the series versus North Carolina on Sunday. The Pirates handed the ball to trusted senior, Brennan O’Neill, opposed by Shaddon Peavyhouse.
The Pirates got started early in the second, filling up the bases and getting across a run from pure hustle by Devin Hack beating out an infield single.
O’Neill would find himself in trouble in the third, eventually walking in a run, and then a fielder’s choice and a bloop single to right by sophomore Alberto Osuna to score another.
In the 4th, it was more of the same for the Tar Heels, extending their lead to 5-1 from junior Angel Zarate 2 run single up the middle. A wild pitch and a single from Patrick Alvarez brought Carolina’s lead to 7-1 after four.
The Pirates did not give up and tacked on two more in the 7th inning thanks to freshman Callan Moss reaching on an error in right field, allowing junior Devin Hack and sophomore Zack Sylvester to score.
The final score concluded with a score of 7-3.
Some positive takeaways from the first series of the year are the way Zack Sylvester and Justin Scotto have been hitting. Both players have gotten off to hot starts, with Scotto batting .400 and Sylvester batting over .500, both reaching base safely in every game this season.
The Pirates look to bounce back as they take on Michigan at 1pm on Feb. 25th, in Miami.
Daniel Bartels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org