Yeargin’s Yard: Inconsistency on the diamond

Associate Sports Editor Benjamin Yeargin looks at Quinnipiac baseball at the quarter-way mark of the season.


Quinnipiac Athletics

Senior outfielder Anthony Donofrio is second on the team with an .839 OPS in 16 games.

Benjamin Yeargin, Associate Sports Editor

 The Quinnipiac baseball team has had an inconsistent start to the season.

The Bobcats began the year by getting swept in the Snowbird Classic by Iowa (who ranked as high as No. 23 in the country) and Indiana State, scoring a total of two runs in the three-game slate.

Next, Quinnipiac went to Princess Anne, Maryland, and swept Maryland Eastern Shore in two doubleheaders, outscoring the Hawks 30-10. They then proceeded to go on a five-game losing streak against Elon and Fordham, finally snapping out of it with a win in their final game against the Rams.

In its latest series, which included its first home game of the year, Quinnipiac was obliterated and swept by St. John’s. The Red Storm put up eight or more runs in every game.

Quinnipiac’s inconsistent start epitomizes what the team can be at its best and its worst. At its highest, the team gets on base, has gritty outings from its pitchers and capitalizes on opponents’ mistakes. The lows reveal an undisciplined team at the plate, inconsistency throughout the lineup and pitchers struggling with command thus racking up pitches.

With MAAC play beginning Friday at Rider, the Bobcats must find some ways to weather the storm.

One way is to keep the faith in the new guys.

Freshmen outfielder John Heitzman and right-handed pitcher Andrew Rubayo have both emerged as two reliable options for head coach John Delaney.

Heitzman is consistently batting in the top half of the lineup as either the designated hitter or a corner outfielder where he boasts a .260 batting average, .302 on-base percentage and a .320 slugging percentage. He needs to continue to start every day, whether he’s DH’ing or playing the outfield.

Delaney uses Rubayo in relief for senior right-handed pitcher Jimmy Hagan, the Bobcats’ Friday guy, a role in which he has shined. He holds a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched, allowing only 16 hits to opponents while possessing a four-pitch arsenal.

Rubayo is performing his role well, but Delaney could get creative with him. Depending on the matchups, Rubayo could start over Hagan and eat more innings. Barring everything going well, Delaney could save arms like sophomore and senior right-handed pitchers Mason Ulsh and Sam Favieri for the schedule’s upcoming mid-week games.

But the potential freedom in starting pitching shouldn’t distract from the fact that the pitching is largely inconsistent.

For example, in senior right-handed pitcher Kevin Seitter’s last four starts he’s allowed four, zero, five, two and five earned runs. He’s gone five or more innings in three of his five starts, it’s just his ERA fluctuates like a seesaw.

Inconsistency hasn’t only struck the pitchers too, Quinnipiac’s leader on the sticks –graduate student infielder Kyle Maves – has struggled to start the season. His .200/.238/.250 slash line and team-leading 19 strikeouts brought him down from first to seventh, to ninth and most recently back up to second in the starting lineup. Junior catcher/outfielder Keegan O’Connor has been bitten by the inconsistency bug too, hitting .193 with a .449 OPS, a steep dropoff from his respective .288 and .768 marks from last season. Also, his zero walks tie for worst on the team.

The whole Bobcats lineup has walked very little. Their 28 combined walks is tied for 292 out of 295 teams in all of NCAA Division I.

Quinnipiac needs to change its approach at the plate and start putting together disciplined at-bats. Even if they lose, the Bobcats working the count, fouling pitches off and forcing pitchers to throw more is a positive sign.

Junior first baseman and outfielder Sebastian Mueller is one player who has done just that this year.

The Pottersville, New Jersey, native bounced back from last season and is currently batting .340/.426/.434 with six walks and two hit by pitches. His .426 on-base percentage leads the team and is eighteenth in the MAAC.

Outfielders Anthony Donofrio and Jared Zimbardo both are also playing consistently. The senior and junior, respectively, are second and third in OPS and along with Mueller are staples at the top of an evolving Bobcats lineup.

When everything is in harmony and Quinnipiac is playing consistently, it’s a dangerous team in the MAAC. Its current struggle is making sure its pitching, hitting, fielding and base running are all in sync.

The Bobcats will continue next at Yale on March 22 at 3 p.m.