The Saint Joseph's baseball team is preparing for its final Atlantic 10 home series of the season as first-place VCU visits Smithson Field this weekend. The Hawks and Rams will kick off a three-game set on Friday afternoon; note the new start time of 2:00 p.m.
Saturday will be both Alumni and Family Day and Senior Day; the Hawks will host an alumni softball game at 11:00 a.m., while Senior Day festivities will be held before the 2:00 p.m. game against VCU. To register, visit alumni.sju.edu/baseball.
(All times are subject to change based on the presence or threat of inclement weather; any and all time changes will be communicated on SJUHawks.com and through the Hawks' social media channels.)
ON THE DIAMOND
SAINT JOSEPH'S (18-24 overall, 10-8 Atlantic 10)
• The Hawks took two out of three from St. Bonaventure last weekend to stay in the hunt for a postseason berth. On Friday, the Hawks came back from a run down to force extra innings before a James McConnon single led to an error that allowed Brendan Hueth to score the winning run in a 3-2 walk-off win. Jordan DiValerio tossed eight strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out seven in a no-decision; he was later named the Big 5 Pitcher of the Week on Monday.
• In the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, SJU took a 2-0 first-inning lead and ultimately held on for another 3-2 win. Langston Livingston hit his first home run of the day to give the Hawks a key insurance run, while Jose Martinez tossed four and a third innings of shutout relief to get the win.
• In the second half of the twinbill, the Bonnies opened up leads of 4-0 and 6-2, but a fifth-inning grand slam by Livingston tied the game at 6-all. Unfortunately for the Crimson and Gray, the visitors tallied a pair, and a ninth-inning comeback fell short as SBU salvaged the final game of the series, 8-7.
• McConnon, whose hit that ended Friday's win was the 100th of his collegiate career, leads the Hawks with a .320 batting average that jumps to .375 in conference play. Hueth is hitting .314 on the season, with a .333 mark in league games, while Jake Artz checks in with a .350 average in 16 starts against Atlantic 10 teams.
• Andrew Cossetti has been the Hawks' leading power threat, pacing the squad with seven home runs and 36 runs batted in. Dominic Cuoci and Kadar Namey have hit four longballs apiece, with Cuoci's 33 RBI ranking him second on the team. Cossetti has hit a team-leading 12 doubles, while Artz's four triples tie him for third in the Atlantic 10 and Hueth's 21 stolen bases are good for fourth in the league.
• DiValerio has been strong in conference play, posting a 3-2 mark with a 3.29 earned run average in six starts. He has struck out 38 against just eight walks while holding opponents to a .199 batting average.
VCU (33-16 overall, 13-5 Atlantic 10)
• The Rams had their bye week from conference play last weekend and split a doubleheader at Duke on Sunday. After a 2-1 loss in the opener, the Rams scored three in the first inning of the second game to take an early lead. The Blue Devils would go on to tie the game in the eighth, but a two-run pinch-hit single by Logan Amiss and a shutout inning from Sam Ryan gave VCU a 5-3 win.
• On Wednesday, a four-run second gave the Rams a lead they would not relinquish en route to a 12-4 win at Norfolk State.
• Liam Hibbits is the Rams' leading hitter, posting a .376 average. Paul Witt is hitting .342 on the year, good for second on the team, while he and third-ranked Zac Ching (.317) are the only two Rams to start every game this season.
• Ching has hit a team-leading six home runs this season, with Hibbits and Brandon Henson right on his tail with five each. Hibbits, Witt, and Ching have also each recorded more than 40 RBI on the season, with Hibbits' 48 leading the way.
• Hogan Brown has scored a team-high 48 runs, while Brett Norwood is 18-for-18 on stolen base opportunities.
• Connor Gillispie fronts the Ram rotation with a 3-2 record and a 2.08 ERA to go with his league-leading 91 strikeouts, while Justin Sorokowski is 2-1 with a 3.90 ERA. The pair has combined to start two-thirds of VCU's games this season.
• In the bullpen, Ryan has notched five saves, while Mac McCarty has four to his name. Benjamin Dum has appeared in 17 games, all in relief, going 5-6 with a 2.52 ERA and a pair of saves.