April 2, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's baseball team hits the road tomorrow for a three-game set in the Bronx against Atlantic 10 foe Fordham. The Hawks currently sit in a sixth-place tie in the conference at 3-3, while the Rams are 5-1 and in third place. This weekend's series will be played at Fordham's Houlihan Park.
After putting together a four-game winning streak two weeks ago, SJU will now look to end a four-game losing streak that stretches back to March 25. Last weekend the Hawks dropped three straight to St. Bonaventure after a non-conference loss to Delaware. The games against the Bonnies were held at Campbell's Field in Camden, N.J.
Fordham has lost two straight to NYIT (who the Hawks beat, 7-2, on March 7) and Fairfield after sweeping A-10 rival Massachusetts last weekend. The Rams currently sit at 9-15 overall, but their 5-1 conference record is a result of the sweep of the Minutemen and taking two out of three at Charlotte over the Atlantic 10's opening weekend.
The Ram offense is led by first baseman Bobby DiNardo. He leads the squad in average (.337), home runs (nine), runs batted in (22), walks (17), slugging percentage (.735) and on-base percentage (.456). He also ranks second in runs scored (19) and doubles (six). DiNardo is one of two Rams to appear in all 24 contests; the other is Danny Leach, the team's leader in runs (20) and stolen bases (11). As a team, Fordham is hitting just .257, but that number jumps to .275 in six conference games.
The Ram pitching has been dominant in conference play, turning in an earned run average of 3.00 in those six games, second only to the Hawks' 2.57 conference ERA. Leading the rotation for the Rams are starters John Flanagan and J.P. Mack. Flanagan is 3-0 with a 4.42 ERA while Mack sports a 4.89 ERA with his 2-2 record. Flanagan pitched into the tenth inning in his last start against UMass while Mack gave up two runs in six and a third innings in his last start. Jake Rabinowitz (1-0, 6.35 ERA) gave up just one run on five hits in eight-plus innings in the first half of a doubleheader against the Minutemen last Saturday.
Jordan Grangard and Chris Kaible have pitched well in relief for the Rams thus far. Grangard has a pair of saves on the year to go with his 3.72 earned run average while Kaible is 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in just seven innings.
Leading the charge for the Hawk offense is David Valesente, the team leader in average (.378), home runs (three), RBI (21), and runs scored (22). Ryan McDonald (.345) and Joe Cook (.320) are also hitting well this season, with McDonald ranking second in runs batted in (18) and Cook among the Atlantic 10 leaders with 19 walks in the early part of 2009.
On the mound, Randy Mower (2-3, 3.94 ERA) and Dominic Favazza (1-2, 5.16 ERA) have been solid in their conference starts. Favazza gave up three earned runs in six-plus innings last Friday while Mower gave up three in seven. Chris Hildreth has been a workhorse out of the bullpen, making 11 appearances and racking up a pair of saves and a 1.93 earned run average in 14.0 innings. Doug DiSandro sports a 3.29 ERA in 10 appearances as well.
On Friday, Favazza and Mack will take the hill. On Saturday, SJU will throw freshman righthander A.J. Holland against Rabinowitz, while Sunday will pit the staff aces against one another in Mower and Flanagan.
For more news and notes, check out the "Series Notes" link on the sidebar of the baseball home page.
Gametracker will be available for all three games this weekend, while streaming audio will be available through www.fordhamsports.com on Friday and Sunday.