May 9, 2014
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - In a matchup of two teams that entered the night tied for third place in the BIG EAST, senior ace Josh Prevost (Belle Meade, N.J.) needed only a fraction of the plethora of runs provided by a Seton Hall offensive outburst as the Pirates recorded a commanding 16-0 win in the series opener against Xavier.
In claiming the inaugural meeting between the two new conference foes, Seton Hall improved to 34-11 on the season and 8-5 in conference play. The result also moved The Hall's record to 15-1 within the friendly confines of Owen T. Carroll Field while extending the nation's longest home winning streak to 12. The loss dropped Xavier to 24-22 overall and the Musketeers now hold a 7-6 record against BIG EAST opposition.
It was another day in the office for Prevost who improved his season ledger to an impressive 11-1 with the victory. The 6-foot-8 righty entered the evening with the lowest WHIP in the nation (0.68) and was true to form against a Xavier squad that held the third-highest team batting average in the league. He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced to complete seven shutout innings before being lifted with the Pirates holding a 16-run advantage. In all, the Belle Meade product allowed just six base runners and faced only five over the minimum while fanning four.
Prevost, who was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week for the sixth time this season on Tuesday, has cemented his place as one of the most dominant pitchers in the country and entered the evening as the BIG EAST leader seven major categories. With the win, he moved into a tie for third place on the program's single season wins list, trailing only current associate head coach Phil Cundari who logged 12 victories in 1985 and Rich Vichroski who repeated the feat while helping The Hall to its first-ever BIG EAST title in 1987.
The Hall seized control in the bottom of the first frame, sending 12 hitters to the plate and putting six runs on the board. The first four Pirates moved station to station as after sophomore Derek Jenkins (Annandale, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning; classmate Zack Weigel (Oak Park, Ill.) legged out a bunt single. Kyle Grimm (Bergenfield, N.J.) and Sal Annunziata (Bronx, N.Y.) each followed with walks and Annunziata's free pass plated Jenkins with the first run of the game.
D.J. Ruhlman (Belle Meade, N.J.) and Tyler Boyd (Succasunna, N.J.) helped open the flood gates with back-to-back two-RBI doubles, Ruhlman's to left followed by a liner down the right field line off the bat of Boyd, that gave Prevost and the Pirates a 5-0 edge before Xavier starter Adam Hall (5-3) recorded a single out. The first out came as Chris Selden (Allenhurst, N.J.) sacrificed Boyd over to third where he would remain until sophomore Chris Chiaradio (Teaneck, N.J.) shot a two-out single back up the box to account for the sixth and final Seton Hall run of the opening frame.
Following the extended layoff, Prevost stranded two Musketeers runners in the top of the second and The Hall tacked on another run early in the home half to chase Hall from the game. Annunziata got it started with a single and advanced to third on a one-out hit by Boyd. Senior catcher Dillon Hamlin (Colts Neck, N.J.) planted a single of his own into right field, scoring Annunziata and prompting Xavier to turn to lefty Trent Astle. The switch did little to slow the onslaught however as once again the Pirates came up with consecutive doubles two-RBI doubles, this time courtesy of Jenkins and Weigel, extending the gap to 11-0 before the Musketeers could escape the frame.
Neither team would score again until the bottom of the sixth when Seton Hall added four more on the strength five hits. Ruhlman deposited a one-out single in left field and was followed by a pinch hit double by senior John Beaubien (Livingston, N.J.). The two successive base knocks helped set the table for Hamlin who extended the lead and the inning by roping a bases-clearing double into left center for his second and third RBIs of the evening. After Chiaradio drew a walk and Jenkins singled home Hamlin, Weigel capped the four-run frame with yet another two-out RBI hit that brought Chiaradio around to make the score 15-0 in favor of the Pirates.
The Hall made a habit of coming through in the clutch on Friday night; recording six RBI hits with two outs that resulted in a total of nine runs. The final Seton Hall run also came with two down as Ruhlman reached the plate when Xavier left fielder Vinny Nittoli mishandled a ball off the bat of substitute Mikael-Ali Mogues (New York, N.Y.).
Seton Hall's top two hitters in the lineup, Jenkins and Weigel each finished 3-for-5 with a trio of runs-batted in. Jenkins' first inning stolen base was his conference-leading 32nd of the season and he inched to within six of a spot in the top-10 on Seton Hall's all-time single season steals list.
Ruhlman also collected three hits in five at-bats; knocking in two, while Hamlin went 2-for-5 with three RBIs as well. Boyd also registered his 11th multi-hit game of 2014 (2-for-3, two RBIs) while Grimm extended his team-leading hitting streak to nine games.
Their collective efforts led a charge that saw 12 different Pirates reach base at least once and 10 players score at least one run.
The Pirates will look to secure their third BIG EAST series victory of the season on Saturday as Seton Hall and Xavier are slated to play a weekend doubleheader with first pitch of game one set for 1:00 p.m. Be sure to log on to SHUPirates.com and follow @SHUBaseball on Twitter to stay updated with any potential changes to the schedule.