The Saint Joseph's baseball team, winner of five of its last six, will kick off conference play on Friday afternoon. The Hawks welcome George Mason to Smithson Field for the first Atlantic 10 series of the season for both teams.
All three games will be streamed as part of the Atlantic 10's ESPN+ subscription package. Live audio and live stats will be available free of charge.
ON THE DIAMOND
SAINT JOSEPH'S (7-10)
• The Hawks have won five of their last six, sweeping a pair of midweek games this week. On Tuesday, SJU scored twice in the bottom of the first and tacked on a pair of late insurance runs to blank Villanova, 4-0, in its home opener. Liam Bendo finished the day 3-for-3 with two walks and two runs batted in to lead the way, while Matt Kennedy, Jose Martinez, and Luke Zimmerman combined for the five-hit shutout.
• It was a different story on Wednesday as Bucknell took the early 3-0 lead and forced the Hawks to chip away. Trailing 4-2 entering the top of the eighth, an RBI double by Andrew Cossetti and a two-run home run from Nate Thomas flipped the script and gave the Hawks a 5-4 win over the Bison.
• Bendo leads the Hawks in batting average with a .346 mark, while he and Dominic Cuoci both lead the team with a .414 on-base percentage. Cuoci and Cossetti are the Hawks' leaders in RBI with 13 apiece, while Cuoci's six doubles and .467 slugging percentage are also tops on the squad. Cossetti and Thomas have each hit a team-leading two home runs.
• Jordan DiValerio has been strong in his last two starts, collecting a total of 14 strikeouts and pitching into the ninth last Friday against Seton Hall. Kennedy is 2-0 with a .246 opponents' batting average against, while Ryan Devine's three saves and Zimmerman's two lead the way out of the bullpen.
• After this weekend's series, the Hawks will host Lafayette on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Liberty Bell Classic.
GEORGE MASON (10-9)
• The Patriots have dropped three of four, including a split of a pair of midweek games. Mason topped Georgetown, 7-4, on Tuesday before falling 9-3 at UMBC on Wednesday.
• Logan Driscoll is the Patriots' leading hitter with a .329 average, five home runs, and 15 RBI. Cam Reckling is second on the squad with a .324 average, while Greg Popatak has driven in 13 runs on the season.
• Nick Zegna is 2-1 in four starts, checking in with a 1.89 earned run average in 19.0 innings. Jared DiCesare leads the staff with 19 strikeouts across 28.0 innings of work, while James Beasley has made a team-high nine appearances, all out of the bullpen, while holding opponents to a .122 batting average.