Pirates’ bullpen shoulders the load in midweek loss to Monmouth

One week after a 28-8 win over Princeton, the Seton Hall baseball team was on the receiving end of an offensive onslaught at the hands of Monmouth in a 10-3 loss.

The score notwithstanding, this was a typical Wednesday in the world of Pirates’ baseball, with head coach Rob Sheppard moving the pieces around and trying to work in those who don’t see a lot of playing time in the conference games.

One positive for Sheppard is the bullpen. After using freshmen Hunter Waldis and Sean Miller, who made their fifth and second appearances respectively, Sheppard’s bullpen held the Hawks scoreless over the final five innings.

“It was good to see them show [they knew] how to go through the lineup,” said Sheppard. “They were efficient and they threw strikes. And most importantly they didn’t give up the hits that we gave up early on.”

In total, the Hall used eight pitchers across the nine-inning ballgame and 17 position players took the field for Sheppard, which is exactly what he had planned.

“When you give guys opportunities, it gives guys the chance to show what they can do,” said Sheppard. “I wanted these guys to value every opportunity they got.”

The Pirates started out slow out of the gate, with starter Billy Layne Jr., who was only slated to throw two innings, struggled to make it out of the first. The junior right-hander allowed three runs on four hits, needing 37 pitches to retire the nine batters that the Hawks sent to the plate in the inning. It was the second straight tough start for Layne, who pitched over the weekend and only lasted one inning against Xavier. Layne is expected to be in the starting rotation when the Big East slate continues this weekend.

The Hawks would tack on seven more runs over the next three innings.

The Pirates’ offense which has been heating up, scoring five or more runs in three of its last five games, went cold on Wednesday at Owen T. Carroll field. The Pirates could only muster three hits against the Hawks starting pitcher James Kelly, and only had seven hits total for the game.

Sophomore Matt Toke made his first appearance since being sidelined with an injury on March 9. Toke went 0-for-1 with a groundout before being replaced defensively by Connor Hood in the top of the third after he told Sheppard he “wasn’t feeling right.”

“It’s difficult because obviously there wasn’t a lot of things that went our way,” said senior right-fielder Mike Alescio. “We just have to keep working and realize that there’s more games to come. Ultimately we need to move on and compete Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

Alescio went 1-for-2 with a RBI before being replaced at the plate by Casey Dana, who also went 1-for-2.

“We’ve got to be ready for conference play,” said Sheppard. “And that’s the message I told them. All losses are tough losses, but we’ve got to pick ourselves up and be ready for next weekend.”

Kevin Huebler can be reached at kevin.huebler@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @Hueblerkevin.