By Alex Hyman , Staff Writer
The Hofstra baseball team's record dropped to 5-9 by losing two out of three to Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) rival George Mason over the weekend.
George Mason's senior designated hitter Zack Helgeson blasted a two-run walk off homerun off of junior Jared Rogers to give his team a 5-3 opening-game victory.
Hofstra got on the board in the top of the first when senior outfielder Danny Poma connected for his first homerun of the season.
George Mason bounced right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first and one more in the second.
The score remained 3-1 until the fifth inning when juniors Matt Ford and Jared Hammer each knocked in a run. George Mason took a one run lead into the ninth but the Pride once again fought back and tied the game up.
"We really give great effort and really battle," said Hofstra head coach John Russo. "It's been continuous all year and we keep pushing through. It's the late basic step of this process to break through in these close games."
Poma drove in his second run of the game to tie the score at four, but the Pride left the bases loaded and could not produce the go ahead run.
Hofstra starter David D'Errico scattered 11 hits over six innings and gave up four earned runs in the no decision. Relievers Cody Normand and Joe Burg impressed once again combining for two shutout innings.
Normand and Burg have now combined to give up just one earned run in 14.1 innings on the year.
"[Rogers] threw just one bad pitch and it was a really tough way to lose game one, but we really battled them and I'm happy with our fight," said Russo.
The Pride dropped game two 5-3 after a tough fifth inning.
"In the top half of the fifth we had bases loaded no outs and we had quality at bats just hit it right at people," said Russo. "In the bottom half they had the heart of the order coming up and we just lost the momentum."
Hofstra jumped off to an early 3-0 lead when sophomore outfielder Kenny Jackson knocked in one and junior infielder Dalton Rouleau notched his first homer of the year. But the Pride gave the lead away in the fifth and could not mount a comeback.
Junior John Tiedemann started for the Pride and picked up his second loss of the season.
After not surrendering a hit through the first three innings, George Mason got to Tiedemann, plating one in the fourth and four in the fifth.
The Pride's bullpen once again pitched solid with sophomores Bryan Verbitsky and Brett Schreiber combining for 2.2 innings of scoreless ball.
The Pride turned things in the third game of the series defeating George Mason 8-3.
"Dave Jesch really set the tone pitching on the mound. He had really good stuff and really good composure," Russo said.
Jesch surely did impress as the freshman pitched five solid innings, giving up just one hit and one run.
The score remained 0-0 into the fourth until George Mason took a 1-0 lead. The Pride went ahead for good in the top of the fifth, scoring five times including RBI's from Rouleau, Poma and Ford.
Sophomore John Schilt tossed three innings, giving up two hits and one run in his first relief appearance of the year as the Pride was able to hold on to the lead and clinch its first conference victory
The Pride's catchers this season, sophomore Matt Reistetter, senior Kevin Flynn, and junior Mike Beers have had their struggles at the plate but their work behind the plate is something to look at. The Pride's team-earned-run average is six runs lower than it was a year ago at this point and Russo gives a lot of the credit to his trusty backstops.
"I've asked our catchers to make their main focus our pitching staff," said Russo. "They call every pitch of every game and we have changed the focus here, focusing more on pitching and defense."
The Pride is ready for its first home game of the season, this weekend when CAA's VCU comes to University Field.
"Being able to bat last is really significant and having to know what we have to do is significant," said Russo. "The guys are really excited about coming home and I think people will be really excited with our play."