By Christian Heimall, Staff Writer
The Hofstra Pride baseball team has had a roller coaster of a season in 2010 but currently finds itself on the up slope once again. After a series sweep over conference rival William & Mary at home and a 12-12 tie against NYIT on Wednesday, the Pride currently sit at 15-20-1, 6-6 in the CAA.
Over the weekend Hofstra was propelled by its bats, most notably those of seniors Ethan Paquette and John Kenny, as they swept W & M with wins of 4-3, 16-3 and 6-4. The two seniors provided and incredible amount of offense as Hofstra swept their second conference series of the year to pull to .500 in the CAA. Kenny was a combined 8 for 14 in the three contests against the Tribe, on his way to earning CAA Co-Player of the Week honors, while Paquette drove in 9 RBIs total including a homerun in each game of the double-header on Sunday.
Paquette also hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth on Friday to give Hofstra the victory. Freshman pitcher David D'Errico worked around 12 Tribe hits in six innings of work but was given a no-decision. The bullpen was able to keep Hofstra in the ballgame despite three Pride errors in the contest before Paquette's heroics drove in freshman shortstop Matt Ford with two outs and the bases loaded. For Hofstra it snapped a six game conference losing streak.
The forecast of rain on Sunday forced the two squads to play a double-header on Saturday. Freshman pitcher Jared Rogers started game one but his 8 and one-thirds outing was almost overshadowed by the 16 runs on 17 hits his offense provided him with. The start was the longest outing of any Pride hurler this season and gave Rogers the third win of his rookie season. "It was everything we asked," said head coach Patrick Anderson of Rogers' performance. "We're real happy with his performance. It allowed us to be able to get in position to win both games."
In Game two, the bats woke up early but it was the bullpen that showcased its talent. Pride staked starter Andrew Barbarino to a 3-1 lead after the first inning but the freshman was pulled after three and one-thirds innings giving up only two runs on two hits but walking six batters. From there junior Sean Monaghan took over, going one and two-thirds innings but was taken out after William and Mary closed the gap to 6-4 in the fifth inning. Relievers Jeff Guthridge, Joe Burg, and Matt Watkins combined for four shutout innings of baseball to secure the win and a sweep over the Tribe for the second consecutive season.
On Wednesday, the Pride turned a local rivalry into an astonishing feat. Starter John Krause gave up five runs on just one hit in the first inning to NYIT before retiring one batter. The Bears put up 8 runs in the first frame and led Hofstra 12-2 after three innings. From there, the Hofstra bats and bullpen took complete control. Guthridge and freshman Greg Lettini pitched a combined six scoreless innings while leadoff man senior Matt Prokopowicz and junior outfielder Scott A'Hara combined to go 8 of 13 with three RBIs to spearhead the Pride comeback.
Hofstra plated five base runners in the fifth inning on its way to scoring ten unanswered runs to force extra innings. Tied at 12-12 going into extras freshman closer Matt Watkins threw two shutout innings while NYIT's Mike Roth and Matt McDevitt countered with two scoreless frames of their own. Due to the lack of lights on NYIT's home field in Old Westbury, the game was called a tie after 11 innings, but did not take away from the stellar comeback of the Pride. Hofstra has now gone six games without losing a contest.
The sweep over William & Mary puts Hofstra at 6-6 in CAA play as they travel down to Maryland to take on the Towson Tigers in a three game set. The Tigers are currently 8-10 in conference and sit below Hofstra in the standings. The Pride are currently sixth with its .500 record, a mere one and a half games out of the top four and a potential playoff spot with four series left to play. Hofstra returns home to University Field on Tuesday May 4 against Long Island University at 3:30.