In late January, the MAAC Pre-Season Baseball Coaches Poll ranked Fairfield eighth out of 10 teams.

Now, four weeks into conference play, the Stags are tied with Rider for fourth place.

After taking away two wins from Iona this past weekend and improving to 6-5 in conference play, they’re starting to turn heads.

And no one’s attracting more attention than junior Peter Allen.

They say that pitching and defense wins games, but hitting helps too. That’s where Allen comes into play. The junior DH has reached base safely in 31 straight games, dating all the way back to the end of last season.

“It’s not something I think about,” said Allen. “You’re in the game, you’re trying to get hits, put the ball in play hard. It feels pretty good to have that, but again, not something I really concentrate about during a game.”

Allen opened up the 2007 season hitting an impressive .500 in the first three games against Delaware State and earning MAAC Player of the Week honors. He has been red hot at the plate ever since.

Allen has been Fairfield’s best hitter all season, leading the team in batting average (.395), RBI (19) and home runs (3).

“It [the streak] has been important to us,” said Slosar, “because some key hitters haven’t reached their stride yet.”

Allen has been one of the top hitters in the conference as well.

As of April 16, he is among the top five in the league in five different offensive categories. He is third in batting average, first in slugging percentage, second in on-base percentage, first in doubles and tied for second in total bases

And now it looks as if Allen’s hitting is contagious.

The Stags pounded out 18 hits in yesterday’s doubleheader against Iona. Seven different batters got hits in game one, as opposed to three or four which had been the case for the last several weeks.

Freshman pitcher Rob Gariano, who got the win in game two, said he has noticed a big improvement in the hitting.

“I think they just have a whole new mindset that, ‘You know, maybe we do need to step it up a little bit,’ and they came in with the key hits,” he said.

In game one versus Iona, Fairfield notched all seven of its runs on two outs. Six of them came on legitimate hits, while only one came on a passed ball.

Head coach John Slosar said he was pleased with the offense.

“I just had the sense that we were scoring runners when we had to,” he said.

In addition to clutch hitting, Fairfield also had solid pitching against the Gaels.

Junior pitcher Ryan Calabrese pitched seven innings in the first game of the twin bill, holding the Gaels to two runs, one earned, while striking out three.

Calabrese is now 3-4 overall and his 3.94 ERA is second among starters, to senior Ed Kamintzky’s 3.91 ERA.

The Stags struck first with three runs in the second. Allen continued his hot hitting, driving in two runs on a sixth-inning double that put the game out of reach, at 7-2.

In game two, Gariano had his best outing of the season as he pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and striking out six, improving to 2-4 on the season and lowering his ERA to 4.18. For his efforts, he earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors.

The Stags again picked up a run in the second inning, adding a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to secure the win.

Allen reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, marking the 31st straight game he reached base safely.

Gariano credited Fairfield’s defense and consistent hitting in the 4-0 victory.

“My defense helps me out throughout the whole game because if they’re not playing well, then it’s hard for me to go my full seven innings,” he said.

“Our goal going into every series is to make sure we win that series. Each game, no matter who you’re playing in conference play, is an important game,” said Allen.

Slosar agreed.

“We can see where we are in the standings and if we play a complete game like we did in the Iona games … then we can certainly be in contention at the end of the year,” he said.

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