Hempstead, NY - The Hofstra Baseball team, after a one week delay, will open their 2014 season Friday night at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. The Pride were forced to cancel their opening weekend trip to Mississippi State last week due to travel issues in the Northeast caused by winter weather.
Friday night's game (8:30 p.m. Eastern Time) against the Antelopes (1-3), who are in their first season in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), will be televised on Cox 7 in Arizona. The game will also be carried online and can be viewed at Cox7.com. Barry Buetel and former Major League Baseball player Steve Lyons will have the call. The series continues Saturday with a doubleheader at 3 p.m. and concludes Sunday with a single game at 12 p.m.
Hofstra is coming off a 26-27 season in 2013 and will feature a mix of returning veterans and talented newcomers in the lineup in 2014. The Hofstra lineup and defense will be bolstered by the return of seniors Matt Ford (2B) and Dalton Rouleau (SS), who missed all (Ford) and nearly all (Rouleau) of last season. Both players were All-Colonial Athletic Association selections in 2012 with Ford also winning CAA Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Senior left fielder Kenny Jackson, who belted a team-high nine home runs in 2013, also returns to a starting role and should fill a spot in the middle of the order. Senior Robbie Cafiero, who played a utility role in 2013, will be the everyday catcher in 2014, replacing Washington Nationals signee . Returnee TJ Ehrsam will get the opening day nod in right field after logging 26 starts a season ago. Redshirt freshman David Leiderman will get the start at third base, while newcomers Ryan Donovan and Eric Ferguson get the nods at first base and centerfield, respectively. Junior transfer Eric Peterson will start at designated hitter.
The Pride will start senior David D'Errico in game one. Junior Nick Kozlowski will get the ball in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader with sophomore transfer Alec Eisenberg getting the start in the nightcap. Junior transfer Brian MacDonald is slated to start the series finale on Sunday.
Hofstra's bullpen features many returnees who are expected to contribute led by senior Brett Schreiber, who was 3-3 with six saves last season and posted a school record 2.48 ERA. Seniors Chris Harkey, Cody Normand, Graham Tebbit, John Schilt and Everett Keller are all expected to log innings in 2014. Juniors Dave Jesch and Brendan Mulligan, as well as newcomers Kieran Ryan, Luke Noone, Kevin Weissheier, Matt Weissheier and Greg Carroll are also expected to contribute to the pitching staff.
The Antelopes will be playing their home opener after starting the season on the road at Louisiana Monroe for three games and then a single game at Fresno State. Grand Canyon, which advanced to the Division II College World Series a year ago, will start Jorge Perez (0-1, 1.29 ERA) in game one. Andrew Naderer (0-1, 6.23 ERA) gets the nod in Saturday's first game, while Coley Bruns (1-0, 1.12 ERA) starts game two. Ethan Evanko (0-1, 7.36 ERA) starts Sunday's finale.
Hofstra, which is 22-34 in season openers, is making its first-ever trip to the state of Arizona.
After returning from Grand Canyon, Hofstra is scheduled to open at home against Iona on Friday, February 28 at 2 p.m. and then host a doubleheader against Albany on Sunday, March 2 at 11 a.m.