June 27, 2006
PHILADELPHIA - Steady progress marked head coach Shawn Pender's second season at the helm of the Saint Joseph's University baseball program. Despite fielding a roster composed primarily of freshmen and sophomores, the Hawks increased both their overall and conference win totals, while displaying marked improvement in the field, at the plate and on the mound.
Already on the radar of many Major League scouts after a standout rookie season, Hessler was even more impressive in his second full year. The right-hander topped the team in wins (4), starts (15), innings pitched (88.2) and strikeouts (82). Among the top performances in program history, the three latter totals rank among the four best on SJU's single season list. The All-Philadelphia Diamond Five selection also finished second on the team in ERA and was dominant down the stretch posting a 3.80 ERA with nine quality starts in his final 12 appearances. Twice he struckout a career-high 10 batters, including part of a school-record 17 whiff performance against St. Peter's.
Imbo, meanwhile, developed into one of the Atlantic 10's most versatile relief pitchers. The southpaw shattered the Hawks' season mark by making a record 28 appearances and finished with six saves, the second highest total in program history. In addition he posted a 3-3 record and a team-best 4.00 ERA.
Unkel proved durable making 13 starts and finishing second on the team in wins and strikeouts, while twirling a shutout against Temple in SJU's Conference opener. Williams was once again effective as either a starter or a reliever, making 19 appearances. Grimshaw and Prescott made dramatic improvement over the course of the season.
Offensively, SJU proved to be a significantly improved and more dynamic club. Understanding its strengths, the Crimson and Gray proved capable of manufacturing runs on a consistent basis through situational hitting and sending runners in motion.
Juniors Mike Gentile and Matt Godusky were the teams most reliable sticks. Godusky batted .289 and led the team in doubles (14), home runs (5) and RBIs (32), while placing second in runs scored with 33. Gentile, meanwhile topped the team with a .298 batting average and 35 runs scored. After a slow start, the first baseman batted .351 over the second half of the season. Another junior Adriano Petrutz played through injuries, but still led the team with 15 stolen bases and finished second in RBI (27), batting .364 over SJU's final 20 games.
A quartet of sophomores that included Mike Blahusch, Jeremy Jakubowski, Jereme Scott and Tim Smith, along with red-shirt freshman shortstop Chris Cashman emerged as solid everyday players. Seniors Greg Mason and Dustin Onulak were a reliable duo behind the plate.
Steady improvement proved to be the hallmark of Pender's second season helm. Despite a youthful roster, the Hawks were vastly improved across the board in 2006 and the prognosis for continued development is high.