The Saint Joseph's baseball team returns to conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Fordham beginning on Saturday. At 5-1 in league play, the Hawks are tied for second in the Atlantic 10 standings, while Fordham is currently tied for seventh and two games behind SJU.
ON THE DIAMOND
SAINT JOSEPH'S (12-14 overall, 5-1 Atlantic 10)
• The Hawks dropped a pair of midweek games, falling at Penn, 20-7, and at home to Lehigh, 20-15, in 10 innings. In the latter game, each player in the starting lineups of both teams notched at least one hit in the game, while seven different Hawks scored at least two runs.
• Last weekend, the Hawks took two out of three at George Washington. On Friday, Andrew Cossetti's two-run home run in the second inning tied the game, and Nate Thomas' eighth-inning two-run shot won it as the Hawks posted their first 4-0 start in conference play in 40 years with a 4-2 win. Jordan DiValerio was strong, retiring 18 of 19 batters at one point while striking out 10 and walking none in eight innings.
• After the Colonials took Saturday's game, 10-4, the rubber match of the series was a wild affair. GW took a 10-4 lead after four innings before Cossetti led off the fifth with a solo home run and then hit a three-run shot in the sixth to bring the Hawks to within a pair. Then, with SJU down 12-9 after seven, the Hawks exploded for six runs in the eighth – including a go-ahead three-run home run from Dominic Cuoci – and three more in the ninth en route to an 18-12 win.
• Cossetti earned Big 5 Player of the Week honors on Monday, while DiValerio nabbed Big 5 Pitcher of the Week accolades.
• Thomas is the Hawks' leading hitter at .340 on the season, while Cossetti checks in at .333 overall and a blistering .500 in six conference games. Cossetti has added a team-best six home runs – four in league games – while Thomas, Cuoci, and Kadar Namey have each hit three. Cossetti and Cuoci have been the Hawks' leaders in runs batted in throughout the year as well, totaling 27 and 26, respectively.
• DiValerio has been strong in his last four starts, notching three consecutive wins in that span. He leads the Hawk pitching staff in strikeouts (36) and innings pitched (34.2), and has posted a 2-0 mark with a 3.21 earned run average in two conference starts. Ryan Devine and Hayden Seig are the Hawks' leaders in appearances with 12 and 11, respectively, while Devine's four saves tie him for fourth in the conference.
FORDHAM (17-12 overall, 3-3 Atlantic 10)
• The Rams topped Siena, 5-4, in 10 innings on Wednesday after Justin Bardwell's home run in the bottom of the 10th ended a brief two-game skid. Last weekend, Fordham won the series opener at Rhode Island, 2-0, before falling 5-3 and then 9-8 in 12 innings in the final two games of the set.
• Jake McKenzie has been the catalyst for the Fordham offense, hitting .388 with 30 runs scored and 16 driven in. He leads the Atlantic 10 and ranks among the national leaders with 29 stolen bases as well. Bardwell and Nick Labella lead the team with three home runs apiece, while Bardwell's 20 RBI are tops on the squad.
• John Stankiewicz has fronted the Ram rotation, checking in with a 4-1 record and a 0.95 ERA across 38 innings of work; he has struck out 50 batters against just eight walks in that span as well. At the back end of the bullpen, Kyle Martin has held down the fort for the Rams, posting a 1-1 record and a 1.50 ERA to go with four saves in a team-high 12 appearances.
• The Hawks lead the all-time series between the teams, 31-28, with one tie. Fordham, however, has won six in a row, securing series sweeps in each of the last two seasons; previously, the Hawks had taken eight straight and 10 out of 11 from the Rams.