Baseball season is well underway and through 14 games, Montclair State University’s baseball team’s red hot hitting has put the entire New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) on notice. Sitting at a 10-4 record, the Red Hawks have gotten off to nothing short of a historic offensive start.
In just a handful of games, the Red Hawks have put up a tremendous amount of runs. They have scored 19 runs twice, both in wins against The Catholic University of America, 17 in a win against Bridgewater State University and 15 against Stevens Institute of Technology and Eastern Nazarene College which led to victories for the Red Hawks.
Led by senior first baseman Peter Cosentino, the Red Hawks rank first in batting average, runs scored and RBIs. It doesn’t end there. They also rank second in home runs, doubles and slugging percentage.
“Everyone through our lineup, one through nine, including our bench guys are swinging a really hot bat so our confidence level is pretty high,” Cosentino said. “It’s definitely nice to have that thought that everyone one through nine including almost every guy off the bench can go up there and put together a solid at-bat whenever we need it.”
Cosentino, who is putting together yet another stellar season, leads the NJAC in almost every major statistical category with five home runs, 26 RBIs, seven doubles and 19 runs scored, all while batting .415. Cosentino is feeling as confident as ever but credits the coaching staff for much of his and the team’s success.
“Coach [Dave] Lorber, coach [Pat] Knight and all the other coaches in our coaching staff have done a great job preparing our hitters,” Cosentino said.
Other notable Red Hawks who are having success at the plate include sophomore outfielder/catcher Jorden Jurkiewicz, who is batting .442 with five homers along with 20 RBIs. Senior infielder Joe Norton is also having a stellar start to the season, batting .400 with 22 hits and a team-leading 11 stolen bases.
During Monday’s doubleheader against Trinity College, Norton became the newest member of the 200 hit club, claiming the 13th spot on the Red Hawks’ all-time hits list.
Even though it’s been a small sample size, if the Red Hawks do want to reach new heights, Lorber believes they are going to need more consistency and success on the mound. The Red Hawks rank sixth in the NJAC in earned run average (ERA) and they have given up the most walks by a wide margin with 81.
“As far as areas for improvement, I’d like to see our middle bullpen take a step forward,” Lorber said. “I think we’re looking for some pieces to really step forward to solidify that and then other than that, I think we’ve got some pretty good defensive pieces in place and I’m pleased overall.”
With baseball always seeming to be a long and grind-it-out type of season and without any conference matchups just yet, it is very difficult to tell how the NJAC will play out. As of now, however, the Red Hawks have made themselves hard to ignore despite their competition.
As the season gets more difficult, Lorber believes this team will be ready.
“We are going to start to see some more consistent arms that are going to challenge us,” Lorber said. “I think we’re ready for the task and I’m excited about [it] for these guys. I think they can handle it.”
The Red Hawks’ first NJAC matchup will be on April 2 as they take on Rutgers-Newark in a two-game set.
Although scoring a surplus amount of runs is great, it is important to know that in order to perform at the highest level, everyone must be on the same page and junior infielder Sam Angelo believes this team is just a little bit different.
“I think the difference with this team rather than past teams that I have been on during the past three years is that we all literally want the same goal,” Angelo said. “To get here, be at this high pedestal and win an NJAC title, possibly go on, I think we are all pretty confident up there right now.”