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Pride bats carry lackluster pitching

By Alex Hyman, Staff Writer

Pitching was the problem for the Hofstra baseball team this past weekend as it gave up a total of 46 runs and dropped two of three to the Dukes of James Madison University (JMU).
"It was the perfect storm of JMU hitters being really hot. They have won seven out of nine and got some hitters back, which made their lineup a lot better," Hofstra head coach John Russo said. "We had too many walks and it was just an all around poor weekend".
Hofstra got off to a slow start in game one as starting pitcher Jared Rogers lasted just one-third of an inning allowing four earned runs. The Pride trailed 9-1 after three innings and ended up dropping the contest 13-2.
Senior Danny Poma led the team with two hits and one RBI and finds himself second in the nation in hitting with a .451 average.
"He's amazing," Russo said. "His numbers are incredible. He has a chance to hit 30 doubles and have 30 stolen bases, he could be a first-team All-American and has a chance to win conference player of the year."
 The first game of a Saturday double-header marked one of the crazier games of the year for the Pride. The game saw 34 runs on 31 hits but the Dukes were able to plate six in the eighth inning to defeat the Pride 20-14.
After falling down 1-0 in the top of the second, Hofstra exploded for five runs in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore Kenny Jackson continued his hot hitting with an RBI triple. Senior Kevin Flynn and junior Dalton Rouleau each hit sacrifice flies, both driving in a run. Then junior Matt Ford knocked in a pair with a single.
Starter John Tiedemann ran into trouble in the top of the third giving the lead up as the Dukes got six runs across to take a 7-5 lead. Trailing 13-5 in the bottom of the sixth, the Pride once again had an enormous inning.
Junior Jared Hammer got the scoring started with a bases loaded walk. Jackson followed that by getting hit by a pitch for another RBI. Flynn put the Pride back into the game with a grand slam blast to right-center field. Bryan Verbitsky kept things rolling with a home run of his own. The Pride scoring finally came to an end with Rouleau ripping an RBI double to left-center.
"I like the way we battled," Russo said. "They show a lot of heart being able to come from eight runs down."
The second game of the double header saw 28 runs and 28 hits but the Pride's clutch eighth-inning hitting was what Hofstra needed to give them a 15-13 victory.
Starter David Jesch, who has been Hofstra's most consistent starter this season, also had a bad outing as he lasted just three innings giving up 9 runs, six of which were earned. This left the game in the hands of the relief pitchers and the back end of the bullpen got the job done. Juniors Cody Normand, Andrew Barbarino and Tiedemann combined for the final four innings with Barbarino picking up the win and Tiedemann picking up the save.
The offense for Hofstra continued to amaze through the weekend as Rouleau, Ford, Hammer, Jackson, Flynn and Verbitsky all had at least two hits in the game. On the season those six players, along with Poma and junior Austin Nyman, find themselves with averages over .300. The Pride currently stands second in the nation in hitting with a .336 average.
"Rouleau has definitely been big for us at the top of the lineup. Since coming back from his injury his average has gone up about 40 points," Russo said. "Nyman has been an unsung hero at the bottom of our lineup, and Ford has really stepped up hitting behind Poma."
The Pride hosted New York Tech on Tuesday and similar to the last time the two teams faced off, Hofstra dominated the game. The Pride belted six home runs en route to a big 19-6 win.
Junior T.J. Thomas now ranks second on the team with six home runs. The Pride also got a long ball from Rouleau, Hammer, Jackson and Verbitsky.

Sophomore leftfielder Kenny Jackson (17) makes a leaping catch. (Cody Heintz/The Chronicle)

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