District Spotlight: Duquesne eyes first baseball title, faces Xavier in A-10 showdown
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Duquesne is trying to defy the time-honored baseball adage that pitching and defense win championships.
The Dukes are in position to win their first Atlantic 10 Conference title thanks to a potent hitting attack that has managed to overcome some inconsistent fielding and a beleaguered and battered pitching staff.
Duquesne (18-22, 12-6), despite allowing 8.4 runs per game for the season and 10.5 the past 10 games, will play host to first-place Xavier (19-23, 13-5) in a three-game series this weekend in a showdown for the top spot in the league. The Dukes are tied with Charlotte for second place after taking two of three games from the 49ers this past weekend.
The wins came in typical fashion for Duquesne, which rallied for three runs in the ninth inning for a 16-14 victory Saturday and pounded out an 18-9 win Sunday. Charlotte, which dropped to 31-12, was rated in the Top 25 just a couple weeks ago.
Duquesne's leading hitters for the season are Mike Carroll (.380 batting average, 4 home runs, 31 RBIs), Derek Mechling (.326, 8 HRs, 28 RBIs) and Aaron Janusey (.318, 9 HRs, 33 RBIs), a senior from Peters Township.
The most effective pitchers on a staff that allows opponents to hit .316 are Ryan Juran (4-6, 7.55 ERA), a junior right-hander from Shaler, and Paul Bugajski (3-3, 7.88 ERA), a sophomore right-hander from Norwin.
Here's a look at the other Division I baseball teams in the area:
• Pitt (14-24, 6-12) -- The Panthers, coming off two wins in three games against Georgetown, are tied with Villanova for 10th place in the 12-team Big East. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs. Pitt is at Villanova for a three-game series this weekend.
The Panthers are led by Sean Conley (.354, 11 HRs, 44 RBIs), a senior outfielder from Blackhawk, Joe Leonard (.329, 3 HRs, 23 RBIs), a freshman infielder from Connellsville, and Danny Lopez (.311, 4 HRs, 25 RBIs).
The pitching mainstays are Nate Reed (5-5, 5.81 ERA) and Brian Chrisman (3-2, 3.31 ERA), a senior left-hander from Baldwin.
• West Virginia (32-11, 11-7) -- The Mountaineers, coming off a sweep of Connecticut, have won four in a row and have a team batting average of .359 for the season. The leaders are Tyler Kuhn (.429, 9 HRs, 51 RBIs), Joe Agreste (.415, 5 HRs, 36 RBIs) and Vince Belnome (.414, 3 RBIs, 59 RBIs).
Josh Whitlock (7-3, 4.81 ERA) is the headliner on a deep and talented staff that includes Chris Enourato (5-0, 2.25 ERA), Billy Gross (5-2, 3.11 ERA), Matt Yurish (5-1, 4.09 ERA) and Stephen Morrison (5-2, 3.82 ERA).
The Mountaineers play three Big East games at St. John's this weekend.
• Penn State (19-23, 10-10) -- The Nittany Lions, coming off a split in four games at Illinois, have a four-game Big Ten series against visiting Michigan State this weekend.
Their offense revolves around Brian Ernst (.329, 15 RBIs), Joe Blackburn (.328, 2 HRs, 29 RBIs) and Rob Yodice (.275, 5 HRs, 33 RBIs). The team's two four-game winners are Mike Wanamaker (4-4, 3.25 ERA) and Seth Whitehill (4-3, 9.07 ERA).
The West Division remains wild in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, with Shippensburg (33-21, 14-6), IUP (36-17, 13-7), Slippery Rock (25-21, 12-8) and California (28-16, 12-8) bunched near the top of the standings.
Thomas More (22-11, 9-1) has a two-game lead on second-place Westminster (22-12, 7-3) in the Presidents' Athletic Conference.
First Published April 29, 2008 12:00 am