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HAWK DIANMONDMEN CONCLUDE 2003 SEASON
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
PHILADELPHIA (7/01/03)- Pitching was projected to be the key to success for the Saint Joseph's University baseball team in 2003 and it was a talented, although inconsistent, batch of arms that guided the Crimson and Gray through a mercurial season on the diamond. Still, this gritty Hawk squad managed to improve their overall victory total from the previous year and remained in the Atlantic 10 playoff chase into the final weekend of the season, finishing up 17-31 overall, 10-14 in the A-10.

Offensively, a quartet of seniors, including first team all-Atlantic 10 third baseman and team MVP Mike Walls provided the pop at the plate. Walls, just the second player to earn first team all-league honors for SJU since 1995, topped the team in batting (.340) for the second straight year, while finishing second on the club in RBI, doubles and home runs. A jack of all-trades, he also saw time at shortstop, as well as the outfield, and served as the team's closer, leading the squad with three saves. The Houston Astros drafted Walls in the 33rd round of the June Amateur Draft.

Classmates John Kokol, Mike DeLorenzo and Kevin Dougher also capped their careers in fine fashion. Kokol, who opened the year in a 4-44 slump, terrorized pitchers over the final two-thirds of the season, batting .438 over the team's final 35 games with team high totals of 12 doubles and six round trippers.

A fifth-year senior, DeLorenzo's decision to return for an extra season worked out well for SJU. He provided a capable backstop to work with the team's young pitching staff, while also becoming one of the A-10's most clutch hitters. Honored as the National Hitter of the Week after clubbing walk-off home runs in consecutive days against Duquesne, he hit .286 with four homers and 26 RBI.

Dougher continued in his role as one of the A-10's top glovemen in the outfield and his steady stick allowed him to place second on the team with 32 runs to go along with 21 RBI.

A trio of talented juniors held down everyday spots in the lineup. Nick Baldasari took over in leftfield and hit .293 with seven doubles and 21 RBI. Second sacker Jason Tarewicz scored a team-high 34 runs and showed improved pop at the plate, finishing second on the team in doubles (10) and home runs (4).

Bill McCollum played through injuries for most of the season, but still managed to hit .271 and drive in a team-leading 30 runs, primarily from the designated hitter slot. He also topped the team in victories for the second straight season, despite missing several starts due to lingering ailments.

A pair of freshman, Ryan Stadanlick (SS) and Jason Volker (RHP), also made an immediate impact on the team's fortunes. Stadanlick struggled at the plate and in the field early, but settled in by midseason and displayed all of the tools to emerge as an all-conference candidate as a sophomore. Volker, meanwhile was expected to be the team's everyday third baseman, but instead materialized into one of the Hawks' most reliable hurlers, appearing in 11 games and tossing 50.0 innings.

On the hill, senior Erik Holman and sophomore Al Braun, along with surprising junior Joe Mucci displayed the most consistency. Holman led the team with 17 appearances, victories and strikeouts in his final collegiate season. Braun overcame some early season control problems to tie for the team lead in wins, while becoming a conference starter by season's end. A side-arming right-hander, Mucci's unorthodox style allowed him to pick up a pair of victories and lead the team in ERA.