By Zach Mongillo Staff Writer
The Hofstra baseball team won two games to split their series against University of the Incarnate Word this past weekend in San Antonio, TX.
Both of the team’s wins came in their doubleheader on Friday. They won the opening game 9-3 in just 7 innings, piggybacking on a big home run from first baseman Brian MacDonald.
“It was nice to see the offense kind of explode a bit in the first game on Friday with 9 runs. We were down 2 to nothing, and we got a huge bases-loaded Grand Slam from Brian MacDonald to make it 4-2. I thought it just took all the pressure off everything. I think the guys were pressing a little bit to get a big hit or a big run,” head coach John Russo said.
Game two of the doubleheader was less of a blowout and more of a nail-biter. Hofstra held a 2-1 lead for most of the game, until the Cardinals tied it up with a run in the bottom of the ninth. But the Pride came through in the 13th inning, with a 2-run home run off the bat of second baseman Matt Ford. This was Ford’s first home run since the 2012 season, as he missed all of 2013 due to injury.
Aside from some big offensive plays, the team’s pitching was a major advantage over UIW on Friday. Junior Nick Kozlowski gave up just 2 runs in his 6 innings of work in game one, while junior David Jesch and senior Brett Schreiber combined for 12 strong innings and gave up just one run each. All things considered, Russo was happy with the team’s performance on the weekend.
“I feel like a little bit of travel has put some wear and tear on us and probably gave away a game Sunday that I think we should have won. But, overall, we’re starting to play a little bit better,” Russo said. “We’re still looking for pitching depth, but we are getting good starting pitching, which was a big problem early on.”
The Pride’s two losses on the weekend came as they dropped Thursday’s game 1-2 and Saturday’s game 3-8. Hofstra had good starting pitching in both contests, but couldn’t hold off the Cardinals offense in the later innings of either game.
“Relief pitching is definitely more of an issue than starting pitching right now,” Russo said. “We got a really good 5-inning start from Brian MacDonald on Thursday and a really good start from Graham Tebbit on Sunday, but the bullpen both times came in on Thursday night and Saturday morning and gave up leads.”
The Pride also suffered a 5-13 loss as they faced Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ on Tuesday. After that loss, Hofstra now holds a 5-7 record so far this season. While the team currently holds a win percentage under .500, their considerable success so far on the road has been encouraging.
“I don’t know that anybody in the country has had to do what we’ve had to do with our road schedule. Last year at this point we were 3-10 and 0-3 in conference already, now we’re 5-7 and still have another weekend series coming up against Furman,” Russo said. “One of the main goals of this season was to improve our road record. We’re a game here or there from being .500 on the road, which I think is good baseball.”
Hofstra holds a fantastic 32-9 home record over the past two seasons. As if that’s not encouraging enough for when the team makes its way back to University Field next week, they’re also anticipating the return of senior David D’Errico, one of the team’s top pitchers.
D’Errico, who injured his right elbow in his first start of the season, is already throwing and could be pitching in relief by next week. He could potentially be ready to start games by the team’s first conference series against Towson at the end of March. With the Pride’s lack of pitching depth, D’Errico’s return could be a huge help.“I think we have a lot of confidence when Dave is on the mound. He was our Friday night, day one starter, so to add that to a staff that hasn’t had him and has been struggling to look for pitching is invaluable,” Russo said. “More importantly, we want to make sure he’s healthy and able to help us. I know he’s asking to throw every day, so the want to is there. We just have to make sure it’s smart.”
The Pride will travel to Greenville, SC this weekend to face Furman University for a three-game series. They will then travel to Durham, NC to face North Carolina Central University for one game, before returning to Hofstra for their first home game against Fordham University at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19.