March 26, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's baseball team will host St. Bonaventure this weekend for a three-game Atlantic 10 series at Campbell's Field in Camden, N.J. This marks the first time the Hawks will play at the home of the Camden Riversharks.
Last time out, the Hawks suffered a 16-4 defeat at Delaware. David Valesente had three hits in the loss, including his team-leading third home run of the season. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for SJU after the Hawks swept La Salle in three games last weekend and then defeated Lafayette, 3-2, on Tuesday in the first round of the Liberty Bell Classic. The win over the Leopards marked the first victory in LBC play for Saint Joseph's since 2003.
The Hawks are 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2000 after taking a trio of one-run games from La Salle last weekend. It was the first three-game sweep of a conference opponent since the Hawks took three straight from Fordham in April of 2002.
St. Bonaventure defeated Canisius, 9-5, on Tuesday afternoon in the last game for the Bonnies before the trip to the Philadelphia area. SBU used a four-run fifth and a five-run seventh to earn the win. Kevin Suminski had a pair of hits for the Bonnies, adding a run scored and a run driven in.
Suminski is hitting .367 on the year for St. Bonaventure, second on the team behind Anthony Randich (.379). Suminski leads or is tied for the team lead in doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored, stolen bases, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Ryan Skellie is the Bonnies' leader in RBI with 17 on the year.
On the mound, SBU will rely on Cael Johnson, who sports a 2-0 record with a 2.84 earned run average, at the front of the rotation. Sebastian Bellitto (2-1, 2.70) and Dennis Sherba (2-0, 3.72) are also off to great starts for the Bonnies.
David Valesente leads the Hawk offense in most major categories, including average (.400), home runs (three), RBI (20) and runs scored (22). He also leads the Hawks in on-base and slugging percentage and is tied for the team lead with six doubles.
Ryan McDonald has cooled slightly after his torrid start to the season but is still hitting at a .370 clip. He leads the team with 30 hits in 81 at bats and has scored 15 runs while driving in 18. Joe Cook leads the squad with 18 walks; last year the team-high mark was 22 for the entire season. Cook is also the only Hawk to start all 20 games thus far.
Saint Joseph's has gotten strong pitching performances from Randy Mower (2-2, 3.96) and Dominic Favazza (1-1, 5.40) in recent weeks and the Hawks will hope that continues. Mower gave up a home run in the first inning on March 15 against Niagara before going seven strong in a 4-1 SJU win. He went eight and a third last Sunday, earning the win as SJU triumphed over La Salle, 4-3.
Favazza earned Big 5 Baseball Pitcher of the Week honors for his eight-inning, six-hit, two-run, nine-strikeout performance in the win at La Salle on March 20. The nine strikeouts were a career high for the sophomore, who earned his first win of the season.
In the bullpen, Chris Hildreth has appeared in 10 games, sporting a 2.25 ERA to go with his 1-0 record and two saves. Doug DiSandro has made eight appearances and has a 2.31 ERA. Freshman A.J. Holland, who has both started and relieved this season, has a 1-1 record, a 3.86 earned run average, and 10 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched.
The Hawks and Bonnies will face off at noon on Friday at Campbell's Field. The series will continue at noon on Saturday, with Sunday's finale also schedule for noon. Dates and times are subject to change due to the potential for rain in the Philadelphia area this weekend.
Live stats and live audio will be available for all three games here on SJUHawks.com. Check out the "Series Notes" link on the sidebar of the baseball home page for updated news, notes, and statistics for this weekend's series.