After a two-week layoff, the Slippery Rock University baseball team will be back in action on Friday as they travel to Pitt-Johnstown’s Point Stadium for the first two of a four-game set. The teams will head back to Slippery Rock Saturday for a doubleheader at Jack Critchfield Park.
Slippery Rock (14-5, 5-3 in the PSAC) and Pitt-Johnstown (13-11, 9-7 in the PSAC) are right next to each other in the thick of the conference’s standings.
This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since 2019, when Slippery Rock dropped a doubleheader. The Rock’s last two weekend series have been postponed. Their only April action thus far came against Gannon with whom it split a four-game set. Pitt-Johnstown has had a much busier April that has seen them go .500 as well with a 6-6 record.
Senior Tyler Smith is key to the Mountain Cats offensively, as he leads the team with four homeruns, 27 RBI and a slugging percentage at .630. Jake Ansell is tied for the team lead in hits with Smith at 25. Staff ace Dylan Heid has been consistently blowing away batters, striking out ten-plus in all six of his starts on the season. He owns a sub-1.00 ERA. The UPJ pitching staff totals 203 strikeouts on the season, which is an impressive average of 1.24 per inning.
The Mountain Cat pitchers will find themselves with a tough task as they combat a Slippery Rock team that carries a .354 batting average through 19 games. The explosive Rock offense is led by juniors Jon Kozarian and Connor Hamilton. It gets contributions from players up and down the roster. Slippery Rock slugs the ball as a team at an imposing .564 clip, averaging over four extra-base hits per game.
The Rock pitching staff has been nothing short of lights-out this year, limiting opponents to a .228 batting average, thanks to key contributions from Ricky Mineo , Andy McClymonds, and Travis Holman. Slippery Rock pitchers also have a knack for making hitter miss, as they carry an average of 1.32 punchouts per inning.
Weather in Johnstown Friday calls for a temperate 56-degree high with a low chance of rain. The first game will look to kick off a 1 p.m., with the second following at 3 p.m.