By Daniel Popoloski
The Pioneers, seeded sixth in NJAC tournament, take on the top seeded Kean University on Tuesday. The two teams split their season series one game apiece, with the road team winning each time. William Paterson University will be on the road for this match.
WPU will be led by junior outfielder Mike Abate who leads the team with a .388 batting average, as well as scoring 42 runs on the year. Junior transfer catcher Eriq Colon has also contributed significantly in the power department, leading the squad with five home runs, as well as chipping in nine doubles and two triples. Graduate student shortstop K.C. Abel boasts an impressive .370/.431/.571 triple, which represents batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Senior pitcher Mitch D’Amato is 6-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 games, including eight starts. Sophomore relief pitcher Bryan Kopko has a 2.84 ERA in 18 appearances and six recorded saves. Combined with the rest of the pitching staff, they will have to take on a high octane Kean offense if they hope to keep the team alive.
The tournament is double elimination, meaning that even if WPU loses the first game, they’ll have at least one more shot to stay in the tourney. The loser will face off against the loser of The College of New Jersey/Montclair State University game which takes place on Tuesday as well.
The team rolls into the tournament fresh off of a two game sweep of New Jersey City University that clinched them the last spot in the tournament. They will try to keep their momentum rolling. Once past Kean, to get to the crown the Pioneers will have to take on Ramapo University and TCNJ, and both of the teams are ranked in the top 25 by the NCAA. WPU will be trying to win its first NJAC tournament title since 1997.