June 27, 2008
- The Saint Joseph's baseball team had its best season in seven years in 2008, amassing 18 wins for the first time since 2001. The Hawks also won nine games in conference play, matching their highest total since 2003. SJU showed improvement both at the plate and on the mound under interim head coach Lee Saverio, and after relying heavily on young players, the Hawk coaching staff will have a number of veterans at its disposal in the coming years.
The team's top pitcher and most outstanding player was sophomore lefthander Randy Mower. Mower led the team in wins for the second year in a row, notching a 7-5 record. His seven victories left him one shy of the program record for wins in a season and were the most recorded by a Hawk hurler since 1995. He also tied the record for starts made in a season and ranks in a tie for eighth place in career starts. Mower added a pair of complete games, including a 3-0 shutout of crosstown rival Temple on March 29 that earned him Atlantic 10, ECAC, and Philadelphia Big 5 Pitcher of the Week honors. For his efforts, Mower was named to the All-Philadelphia Big 5 Team.
Joining him on the squad was senior outfielder Jeremy Jakubowski. Jakubowski continued his hot stretch at the end of last season and carried it into the 2008 campaign, leading the Hawks in a number of offensive categories. He hit a career-high .337 to lead the Hawk regulars, and was tops on the club in hits (56), runs scored (36), triples (six), home runs (four), and stolen bases (15). He now ranks in a 10th-place tie for career hits (184), and his six triples were just one off of the SJU single-season record, while his 10 career three-baggers tie him for fifth all-time. In addition to his Big 5 honor, Jakubowski was named Honorable Mention All-Conference by the Atlantic 10.
Sophomore infielder David Valesente made the transition from third base to second base in his second season on Hawk Hill and led the team in at bats (177) and runs batted in (39). After a slow start, Valesente hit .305 in Atlantic 10 play to help power the Hawk offense from the cleanup spot. He also posted two separate impressive hitting streaks; he tied Jakubowski for the longest on the squad with a 10-gamer in March, which he then followed up with a nine-game streak not long after. His 95 career hits put him in a prime position to make a run at the program's all-time top 10 over the course of the next two years.
After taking over the starting slot at first base in March, sophomore Brian Hartsell impressed, posting a .331 batting average, ranking third in hits with 42 and recording an impressive .991 fielding percentage.
Junior Chris Prescott dazzled out of the bullpen for SJU, leading the team with four saves in the closer's role. He also combined with Mower and freshman Dominic Favazza on a seven-inning no-hitter against Saint Peter's on March 16.
Saint Joseph's received vital contributions from a trio of redshirt-freshmen as well. Mike Coleman was the team's starting designated hitter for the final two months of the season and hit .333 while scoring 31 runs and stealing 13 bases at the top of the lineup. Shortstop Joe Cook was third on the team in total bases (58) and tied for third on the squad with 25 runs driven in. He was also 11-for-12 on stolen base attempts. Outfielder Ryan McDonald battled injuries throughout the year, but played in 26 games and hit .391 with a whopping .580 slugging percentage when he was in the lineup.
In 2008, Saint Joseph's solidifed its young nucleus and showed marked improvement in all facets of the game. As this group grows together in the coming years, the Hawks will be prepared to make a mark in the increasingly competitive Atlantic 10.
Most Outstanding Player: Randy Mower
Scholar-Athlete Award: David Valesente
Academic Award: Doug DiSandro
Vasquez Award: Tim Smith
Dorie Leahy Award: Ben Wendle
Pitcher of the Year: Randy Mower
Hitter of the Year: Jeremy Jakubowski
Rookie of the Year: Mike Coleman
Defensive Player of the Year: Brian Hartsell
Most Improved Player: Mike Coleman
Coaches Award: Kenny Pustizzi
Captain's Award: Jason Hessler