The baseball team opened their season last weekend as they took on 11th-ranked Salisbury University at SU Baseball Field, playing three games in two days.
The first of the non-conference three-game weekend series resulted in a 9-5 win. This was Head Coach Matt Righter’s first win in his first career game as coach of the Hawks.
Righter said his team was excited to take the field after being cooped up inside for so long due to the low temperatures and were able to win the first game in “convincing fashion.”
With the score tied at five a piece in the seventh-inning, the Hawks opened up the floodgates and scored three runs in their top half of the eighth inning.
Fourth-year Captain David Lostaglio drove in the game’s final run in the eighth with a two-out single to right. He lead the Hawks going 3-for-3 on the afternoon with three runs scored, two RBIs, a double and a walk.
Second-year catcher Tyler Bell, second-year infielder/catcher Anthony DiNardo, fourth-year Captain Steven Morse also had multi-hit games for the Hawks.
Third-year pitcher Tyler Mitts picked up the win on the mound, throwing just one-third of an inning while allowing one hit. Fourth-year pitcher Mike Pastorini closed the game for the Hawks and picked up the save. He surrendered only one hit and two hits by pitches, while striking out three.
Defensive miscues led to three unearned runs for the Sea Gulls, as they accumulated five errors during the game.
“I think the win made the players think that what they were doing was going in the right direction,” Righter said. “I think that just validated what our guys were doing and all the hard work.”
Lostaglio said the team played “Hawk baseball,” with strong pitching, clutch hitting and high intensity.
On Sunday, the Hawks dropped the final two games of a three game set in a doubleheader in a battle of the beaks.
Salisbury rallied on a three-run third and a three-run fourth to help take game one, as the Sea Gulls scattered 10 hits in the victory in a final score of 7-1.
Fourth-year pitcher Chris Pyz recorded the loss in game one.
In game two of Sunday’s doubleheader, the Hawks were held to two hits, while the Sea Gulls matched 10 hits taking the nightcap in a final score of 8-2.
Even though the Hawks did not fair as well as they did first game of the season, Lostaglio said the team cannot get complacent after winning, especially against a top caliber team like Salisbury.
“We came out flat on Sunday, which we can’t do against a top caliber team like Salisbury,” Lostaglio said. “We may have gotten a little complacent with our win from Saturday. We will certainly look back and learn our lesson and be better at staying hungry as we keep winning.”
Righter said despite the two losses, there are always opportunities to improve.
“We had some good at-bats, but there are definitely still things we can do to improve,” Righter said. “Our guys are looking ahead and looking for ways to improve to get ready for the next games.”
Moving forward, the Hawks now know what to expect, Lostaglio said.
“I expect for the team to keep working hard and to stay focused on our tasks at hand,” Lostaglio said. “We have a very diligent work ethic and I think it will pay off and we will achieve big things this year.”
Mitts said he expects the team to gain experience in a new system and to gain confidence every game as a team moving forward.
“As for myself, I expect to get better and better every outing,” he said. “The key is to play our best ball when conference play starts.”
Righter said he breaks down the season into four parts. This part of the season is just the beginning.
“It’s just the beginning,” he said. “The ultimate goal is the NCAA Tournament if we’re lucky to get there. We’re going to continue to play a lot of guys during this part of the season. Right now we’re focused on part one, and trying to find the right combinations.”
Next on the team’s schedule the 1-2 Hawks will compete at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C., from March 7 to March 10. The team will face off with six different teams in seven games.
Lostaglio said these next set of games will be a challenge both physically and mentally.
“I think if we continue to work hard and stay focused, we will come out of the weekend with a lot of wins,” Lostaglio said.
Mitts said the upcoming games at the Ripken Experience will be crucial for how the season will go.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity this weekend,” Mitts said. “We have a chance to get a lot of games under our belts before conference time, which is very important.”