With just two upperclassmen on its pitching staff, it may appear that the baseball team’s pitching would be its stumbling block this year.

Instead, the pitchers have been the biggest reason for the Stags’ current six-game winning streak.

“We are improving day-by-day,” said head coach John Slosar. “Our pitching staff has been the difference for us–they’ve kept us in every game this year, with the exception of one.”

Senior Dan Krines has emerged as the team’s ace of the pitching staff, giving up just six earned runs in his first three starts this year, while junior Paul Gorra is 1-1 on the season after pitching eight shutout innings in the Stags’ 10-3 win over C.W. Post on Sunday.

The Stags swept the three-game series with C. W. Post last weekend, yielding just five runs in the three games to improve their record to 7-5 this season.

“We’ve gotten off to a real good start, better than we have in the past,” Krines said. “Our pitching has definitely been the strength of our team. The younger guys have really stepped up. The sophomores on the staff have done an exceptional job–everyone has been stepping up in their respective roles.”

The Stags have seven sophomores on its pitching staff, led by Thomas Maisano and Pablo Tamayo. Maisano has a 2-0 record with a 2.05 E.R.A while Tamayo is 1-1 with a 1.98 E.R.A.

Fairfield began the season against some of the top teams in the east while playing down in Homestead, Fla. during Spring Break. The Stags lost three games by three runs or less during the break, including a 6-4 loss to Notre Dame, who was ranked amongst the nation’s top 25 teams at the time.

“Our pitching staff has set the example for everyone this season,” said senior short stop Sean Toolan. “They have kept us in almost every game and have given us a chance to win almost every game so far this year.”

Seniors Matt Ciardelli and Jon Novalis have supplied Fairfield with much of its offensive production this year. Ciardelli leads the team with two home runs and 11 RBI while Novalis has a team-high 14 hits on the season.

The Stags begin their conference schedule this weekend at home with a three game series against defending MAAC Champion Marist, who is the preseason favorite to repeat as conference champions according to MAAC coaches.

“Marist is one of the better teams in the MAAC,” Toolan said. “It will be important to get off on the right foot in the conference.”

After missing the four-team conference tournament draw last year by finishing a disappointing sixth in the league standings, the Stags have been picked to finish fifth this year behind Marist, LeMoyne, Siena and Rider.

“We have a very strong league,” Slosar said. “It will come down to four teams making the playoffs. Every weekend is going to be tough–it’s going to be a real battle.”

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