It was a rollercoaster ride for the Saint Joseph's baseball team this season, and while the campaign ultimately ended just short of the goal that head coach Fritz Hamburg and his charges set out to accomplish - a berth in the Atlantic 10 Championship - there were a number of team and individual achievements that the Hawks can be proud of for a long time.
After losing the first six games of the season, SJU exploded in a big way at New Mexico State, beating the Aggies 35-16 in the series finale. The Hawks set a number of school records for offense in the game, including runs scored and hits (31) in a game.
Saint Joseph's got off to a strong start in conference play, winning its first three series. After dropping two of three at St. Bonaventure, SJU swept city rival La Salle with the help of a dramatic 2-1, ninth-inning, walk-off win courtesy of a Mike Coleman single. With two weeks left in the season, the Hawks found themselves with 13 Atlantic 10 wins, breaking the school record for conference wins in one year. Unfortunately, the Crimson and Gray ended the season the same way it started, dropping their final six contests to finish in eighth place in the conference.
The 2010 Hawks were defined by the play of the senior class. Designated hitter Dewey Oriente led the way for SJU's offense, leading the squad in batting average (.339), runs scored (36), hits (64), triples (five), runs batted in (35), and slugging percentage (.508). He also tied for second on the team with 10 doubles and four home runs. For his efforts, he was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team and the Philadelphia All-Big 5 Team. In addition, after hitting three home runs in the series at Duquesne, Oriente earned Big 5 Player and Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week honors on April 12.
David Valesente was also named to the All-Big 5 Team, occupying the second base spot. He hit .326 (third on the team) with 29 runs scored (fourth), 12 doubles (first), four home runs (tied for second), and 32 RBI (second). He ended his SJU career with 216 base hits, putting him in fifth place on the all-time list. Valesente was honored with the Class of 1950 Award, given to SJU's most outstanding male and female student-athletes.
Also etching his name in the record books was senior pitcher Randy Mower. Early in the season he broke the record for career starts, setting the bar at 56 when all was said and done. He also ranks in a tie for second all-time with 18 career victories. The lefthander finished the season 3-5 with a 5.47 earned run average, but in conference play his 3.58 ERA ranked him 10th in the league.
A trio of senior relievers tied for the team lead with 21 appearances each. Adam Rivera led the pitching staff in wins, posting a 5-2 record with a 5.84 ERA and a save. He set new career highs in appearances, innings pitched (44.2), wins (five) and strikeouts (37), and moved into a tie for fifth all-time when he pitched in his 64th career game.
Quentin Farr was the first lefty out of the bullpen, and led the squad in ERA (4.40), making 21 appearances and throwing 28.2 innings. He posted a 3-2 record and combined with Mower and junior Bryan Penalo to shut out Massachusetts, 1-0, on March 27.
Mike Boyland was the closer this season, leading the team in saves with three. He was 2-2 with a 6.27 earned run average in 21 games after making the transition from third base to the bullpen.
In addition to his two-run, game-winning single against La Salle, Coleman smashed a two-run, 10th-inning home run to earn the win over Saint Peter's on March 24. For the season, he was second on the squad in runs scored (34) and triples (three), fourth in on-base percentage (.393) and first in hit by pitches (12).
McDonald earned Big 5 Player of the Week honors after posting a .533 batting average, two home runs, and nine RBI in the series at New Mexico State. He finished the season with a .306 average and tied for second on the team in doubles (10) and home runs (four).
Taylor paced the Hawks with five home runs and a .410 on-base percentage. He also hit .320 for the season, fourth on the team, and finished second in slugging percentage (.490) as the team's everyday first baseman. Taylor's biggest day came in a doubleheader at New Mexico State on March 6, when he hit three home runs over two games.
Tiagwad led the Hawks with 12 stolen bases and six sacrifice bunts and was second on the team in batting average (.327) and on-base percentage (.408), third in runs scored (31) and hits (50). His speed on the basepaths and in the outfield grabbed many extra bases for SJU while preventing extra bases for the opposition.
Saint Joseph's also got contributions from some rookies as well, most notably Quinn Renner and Kyle Mullen. The first California native to don the Crimson and Gray since 1993, Renner made 43 starts at second and third base and hit his first career home run against Saint Louis on April 2. He also drew a team-high 24 bases on balls. Mullen, a product of St. Joseph's Prep, made nine starts and four relief appearances, earning his first career win on April 10 at Duquesne. He also had an outstanding start against Saint Peter's, striking out nine hitters in five innings while giving up one run and two hits.
The Hawks played well at their new home in 2010, notching a 13-9 record at Campbell's Field in Camden, N.J. SJU made the full-time move after playing six games at the home of the Atlantic League's Camden Riversharks in 2009, and after 20 years at Latshaw-McCarthy Field in Norristown, Pa. The ballpark hosted the Atlantic 10 Championship this season, and will host the same event in 2011 as well.
Despite the departure of a dozen valuable players, the Saint Joseph's baseball program will look to continue on its upward trajectory in 2011 and qualify for its first Atlantic 10 Championship berth in a ballpark they know very well.