Explorers swept in weekend series by Duquesne
According to Dictionary.com, a Duke is “a British nobleman holding the highest hereditary title outside the royal family, ranking immediately below a prince and above a marquis; a member of the highest rank of the British peerage.”
An Explorer, on the other hand, is “a person who investigates unknown regions.”
So if you’re one of “those guys” who picks NCAA games based on mascots, you won big this weekend – just not in the Tournament.
The Duquesne Dukes (9-8, 3-0) came into Hank DeVincent field and swept the La Salle baseball team (7-11, 0-3) in a weekend series that handed the Explorers three losses to open up Atlantic 10 play.
It was a surprising result for the Explorers, considering the competitive games they gave #17 Oklahoma State and #11 Miami during their recent trip south to Florida.
“Coming back from Florida, playing some great competition, and succeeding like we did may have put us in a hole, because we may have thought we were better than we really were,” senior relief pitcher Gerard Breslin said. “This weekend just really didn’t go our way at all.”
After a Friday rainout, the Explorers dropped a doubleheader Saturday, 6-2 in game 1 and 8-3 in game 2. The game that defined the weekend, though, was Sunday’s 8-7 loss.
In the Sunday game, the Explorers took a 7-5 lead into the top of the ninth inning. After pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, Head Coach Lee Saverio had Breslin return for a fourth inning of work in the ninth. When Breslin gave up two consecutive hits, he was relieved by TJ Chism. Chism got the number nine batter to hit into an RBI groundout, which made it a one-run game. He walked the next two batters, but then got a crucial strikeout of Duquesne’s Derek Mechling.
With two outs in the ninth, Chism gave up a two-run single to the Dukes’ first baseman Derek Janusey to give Duquesne the lead for good. The Explorers failed to respond in the bottom of the ninth.
“Sunday was an important game for us. Coach Saverio was not pleased about our performance on Saturday and called Sunday a character game, to see what we were made of,” Breslin said. “Fighting our way back to take the lead late and then lose it in the ninth was a blow, but that’s the way it works sometimes.”
In the game, freshman Davis Hewitt broke out of an early series slump, going 3-5 with two RBIs, two doubles and two runs scored. He’s hitting .318 this season. Fellow freshman outfielder John Malloy had an excellent series over the weekend with three doubles and three runs scored to raise his average to a team high .367. He is currently holding an 18-game hitting streak as well.
As a whole, freshmen are having a significant impact on the baseball team. This is something Breslin recognizes.
“The freshmen on this team have performed well to this point, and if we are going to succeed the rest of the season, they will have to continue doing so. The coaching staff has gotten them ready to play lots of innings, and I think that they are all up to the task,” he said.
Despite the tough start, Breslin says the team remains optimistic.
“This team is going to win,” he said.
“There are 24 more Atlantic 10 games left on the schedule for us to go out and compete. We all know that we are better than what we have been showing, but that can only go so far. It’s time for all of us to step up and play ball.”
The baseball team will play next on Wednesday at Lehigh before returning home Friday to play a weekend series at Hank DeVincent Field against the Temple Owls.
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