The Slippery Rock University baseball team is off to a 7-0 start this season, its best start since 2005, and earned an 18th overall ranking in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll.
The Rock posted three wins last weekend in Virginia, including 10-0 and 3-2 wins over Bloomsburg University on Saturday and a 5-3 win over Mansfield University on Sunday morning.
On Feb. 23 and 24, SRU started the season with sweeps in two separate double headers against Tiffin University in Ohio.
Head coach Jeff Messer is very pleased with his team’s 7-0 start.
“It is a lot better than being 0-7,” Messer said, “We have had some outstanding pitching so far this season to go along with our solid defense. We’ve been throwing strikes early on and when that happens, good things will happen all over.”
In the first game against Bloomsburg, SRU received an outstanding performance from junior Lou Trivino, who threw a no-hitter. Trivino had only two walks to go along with seven strikeouts to earn his second win of the young season.
The junior pitcher received plenty of offensive support after the third inning, including five RBIs from junior catcher Ryan LaRose. Slippery Rock combined for twelve hits in the contest. The defense, behind Trivino, played stellar and committed zero errors.
“It felt good just to start throwing and competing again,” Trivino said, “I was just fortunate to have a great defensive effort from everyone in that game and I am sure that it will continue throughout the rest of the season.”
The second game of the doubleheader against Bloomsburg was a much tighter competition that required a seventh inning rally from the Rock to take the win. Sophomore Garret Peterson got the nod to start the game. He lasted three innings, giving up two runs, neither earned, on three hits to go along with a walk and two strikeouts.
Juniors Mike Dunn and John Kovalik finished out the game for Slippery Rock. They combined to allow two hits and no runs in four innings of work.
The Rock capitalized off of two Bloomsburg errors in the seventh inning to earn a 3-2 win. Juniors Will Kengor and Kevin Jovanovich along with sophomore third baseman Jake Nogalo each had an RBI in the win. Junior right fielder Brandon Myers went 3-3.
“I feel really confident with our team right now,” Nogalo said, “We are all clicking really well as a team. Our thing is we need to be sharp on all cylinders. Our hitting came alive this past weekend and it will only get better.”
Myers agrees with his teammate, saying that the team is really meshing together.
“Our team chemistry is high right now,” Myers said, “The team is just having fun because we are playing good baseball.”
On Sunday morning, the Green and White took on Mansfield, where sophomore Kyle Schneider got the start. Schneider posted a solid outing, pitching six innings with eight strikeouts, while giving up only one unearned run on two hits.
Junior center fielder Jake Weibley hit a three run home run in the third inning to give SRU a 3-1 lead. After that, the Rock hardballers didn’t rescind the lead and won 5-3.
“It feels good to get off to a solid start and to have the start we’ve had as a team,” Weibley said, “To start off 7-0 is quite an accomplishment. We have a great coaching staff, along with a good group of guys that play really well together.”
Slippery Rock will be travelling to Shippensburg next weekend for a three game series with the Ship. Shippensburg is currently ranked 13th in Division II with a 7-1 record. According to Messer, they are possibly the number one team in the Eastern region.
“Right now we are trying to win as many games as possible,” Messer said, “Shippensburg will be our toughest test so far this season.”
Myers’ team also acknowledges that the games against Shippensburg are going to be a battle.
“Shippensburg has a great program and they’ll be a tough test,” Myers said, “I have the confidence in our coaching staff to have us ready. I know I speak for the whole team when I say we’re excited. I feel really good going into the weekend”
Slippery Rock will have a double-header at Shippensburg on Saturday, the first game at noon and the second at 3 p.m. On Sunday, SRU will play the Ship once more at noon.