[Preview]: Baseball looking to keep pace at top of A-10

Over the course of the upcoming weekend, Mason baseball will battle Rhode Island in a three-game series nestled in the middle of the Atlantic 10 schedule.

While the Rams are hoping to climb out of the cellar of the conference, the Patriots are looking to keep pace with St. Louis and St. Joseph’s at the top of the standings (currently 0.5 games back).

Here is a complete preview of both teams before Friday’s first pitch at 3:00pm:

Rhode Island at a glance

The Rams enter weekend play with an overall record of 6-25 and are just 2-8 in conference play. After dropping a one-run game to Stony Brook on Wednesday, Rhode Island is just 2-12 in their last 14 games.

The highlight of the Rams’ season came against Fordham where they took two of three games. In the series finale, Rhode Island shutout Fordham 2-0 and allowed only one hit.

However, the Rams are 0-6 vs. teams in the top-five of the conference standings.

While junior Tim Caputo has been the offensive catalyst for the Rams with team highs in hits (27), RBIs (11), average (.307) and stolen bases (six), he is batting a measly .167 in conference play.

The Rams have also had to result to small ball the majority of the season as they have just one homerun (by senior Pat Quinn) to 27 stolen bases.

Featuring a lineup with five freshman who have appeared in at least 20 games, the most notable first-year player is outfielder Dan Hetzel who has recorded 19 hits and six RBIs.

Projected to appear on the hill this weekend are Steve Moyers (0-5, 2.66 ERA, 29 K), Ty Sterner (0-4, 5.79 ERA, 27 K) and Lou Distasio (2-1, 4.00 ERA, 30 K).

Distasio struck out 10 and surrendered only one hit in an impressive complete game performance against Fordham.

Mason at a glance

Winners of three of the last four, Mason (20-12, 7-3) travels  to Rhode Island looking to remain on pace with conference leading St. Louis and St. Joseph’s before facing the Billikens next weekend.

Last weekend, Mason rebounded from a bitter 8-6 defeat in 11 innings to take the series two games to one with a 6-1 victory over St. Bonaventure’s. In the finale, Blaise Fernandez knocked in a pair of runs and starting pitcher John Williams surrendered only one earned run in 6.1 innings pitched.

In 10 conference games this season, Fernandez is batting .415 with eight RBIs and six doubles.

Expected on the mound this weekend in starting capacity is the trio of Anthony Montefusco (5-2, 1.18 ERA, 50 K), Jared Gaynor (5-2, 1.22 ERA, 42 K) and John Williams (2-1, 3.74 ERA, 10 K).

21 of Montefusco’s 50 punch outs on the season have come in A-10 action—the most of any pitcher in the conference.

Mason Stat Leaders

Average: Ray Toto (.319)

Hits: Blaise Fernandez (38)

Homeruns: Chris Cook (4)

RBIs: Blaise Fernandez and Luke Willis (23)

Stolen Bases: Luke Willis (14)

Wins: Anthony Montefusco and Jared Gaynor (5)

ERA: Anthony Montefusco (1.18)

Strikeouts: Anthony Montefusco (50)

Saves: Mark Maksimow (5)

(Photo by Maurice Jones)