Time for payback

Rock men’s baseball set up for important rivalry series

Published by Aidan Treu, Date: April 4, 2024
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Slippery Rock baseball is lined up for a big rivalry matchup against Indiana University (Pa.) amidst a good start in conference play.

The White and Green head to PSAC-West rival IUP’s home ball field on Saturday for a double-header, then turn around for another double-header at Jack Critchfield park the following day.

Sitting at 5-3 in PSAC play, the White and Green are in playoff position, albeit very early in the schedule.

The Rock are on a bit of a cold streak against the Crimson Hawks, having lost the series both in 2022 and 2023. They will look to recapture their 2021 magic, a year in which they swept IUP in not four, but six games.

Though in their effort to turn the tide, the White and Green will have to do it without their biggest contributor against the Crimson Hawks from a year ago. In their lone win in the 2023 series, Luke Trueman tossed a complete game shutout.

The Rock will likely look to their two-way standouts to fill the void if they are to take the four-game set this time around.

Gage Gillott, Joey Purcell and Michael Kitko have formed a trio of formidable two-way stars.

Gillott has put up an outstanding 0.98 earned run average (ERA) with 35 strikeouts and a 0.171 batting average across 36.2 innings pitched as The Rock’s ace up to this point. His ERA is second in the PSAC among qualifying pitchers.

Purcell also ranks within the top five in ERA among PSAC qualifiers with his 2.17 number. Kitko, while not qualified, has pitched to an excellent 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings.

These statistics are even more impressive when considering all three batters are within the top 11 in terms of batting average and top 17 in terms of on-base plus slugging (OPS) in the PSAC.

Purcell is one of just seven qualified batters hitting over 0.400. His 0.421 batting average is fourth in the PSAC.

Kitko is one of 17 batters with an OPS over 1.000 and has struck out a miniscule two times over 51 at bats.

The Rock will also look toward Koby Bubash for offensive success, as the second baseman had a hit in all four games of last year’s series against IUP. He had seven total bases and added a sac fly for good measure.

IUP is currently sitting just ahead of the White and Green in the PSAC-West standings at 6-2 in PSAC play. California University (Pa.) is the only other team ahead of SRU, also with a 6-2 conference record.

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