By Jerome Bailey, Staff Writer
Despite leading 6-4 after seven innings, the Hofstra Pride baseball team could not sustain its lead and fell to St.John's University 6-7 on Wednesday afternoon. The Pride left 15 men on base, en route to its four straight lost.
The Pride, who is now 10-17 overall and 3-3 in CAA play, led 6-5 going into the eighth inning. The Red Storm rallied for two runs to take the 7-6 lead. The two runs came on four hits and an error by junior pitcher Jeff Guthridge. The Pride however, had a chance to respond in the ninth with runners in scoring position. Freshmen Jared Hammer and Matt Ford were on first and second but, St. John's reliever, junior Daniel Burawa, closed the door on the Pride for his fifth save.
The Pride led throughout the game, and a five-run fourth inning highlighted the team's offensive performance. Ford and senior outfielder Ethan Paquette led the rally, with each nailing crucial singles and scoring runs. Paquette finished the game 2 for 4 with two RBI's and one run scored. Ford also drove in two runs.
Another highlight for the Pride was junior pitcher Kevin Rigopoulos' outing. Rigopoulos pitched six innings, and struck out four hitters and allowed five runs on nine hits.
Despite winning nine of its last 12 games and a perfect conference record heading into its series with the Georgia State Panthers, the Pride were shut down by strong GSU pitching and were swept.
Coming into the series the Pride had scored 45 runs over a four game span. The Panthers were able to hold the Pride to seven runs in three games.
"They threw the ball well, and we have to make some adjustments out there, for our next game. We have to identify the right pitches to hit," said head coach Patrick Anderson.
Panthers pitchers David Buchanan and Charley Olson were very effective. In the first game of the set, on Friday evening, Buchanan held the Pride to two runs. Buchanan pitched the entire game and recorded seven strikeouts on 97 pitches. In game two, Olson allowed no earned runs and struck out 10 batters. Olson and Buchanan only allowed four runs (two earned) in 17 innings.
On Sunday, Panthers' pitcher Ryan Moore continued the impressive pitching for the Panthers. Moore struck out seven and did not allow a walk. The three starting pitchers combined to pitch 25 out of 27 possible innings and allowed 18 hits and five runs.
"Their pitchers pitched very well. In spite of that, our kids battled every pitch and it just did not come out our way," said Anderson.
Despite, the effective Panthers pitching, the Pride led or tied at some point in every game of the series. On Friday afternoon, junior Kevin Flynn blasted his first homerun as a member of the Pride, and gave the Pride a 1-0 led. The Pride would not lead for the rest of the game. In game two, the Pride and the Panthers were tied 2-2 after three innings.
Nevertheless, the Pride would not take the lead and fell 8-2. The Pride started off Sunday's game with Ford and Flynn connecting on base hits. The Pride eventually loaded the bases but could not capitalize.
"We could have done a better job at attacking the ball. We had the lead and several chances to increase it but we could not capitalize," said Anderson.
Bright spots for the Pride on offense were senior Elliot Hagburg and Ford's performances. Ford has had at least one base hit in 16 of the Pride's last 17 games and was the Pride's best hitter in the series, going 6 for 13. Hagburg crushed a three-run homerun in the ninth inning on Sunday, which was his first of the season.