Fairfield, Conn. – The Sacred Heart Baseball team begins its attempt for a third straight Northeast Conference Championship on Friday night at Louisiana Lafayette, beginning a ten-day stretch in Louisiana to start the 2012-13 campaign. Sacred Heart takes on the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, Stephen F. Austin, LSU, and Nicholls State on their eight-game Spring Break trip to the Bayou.
The 2013 season marks Head Coach Nick Giaquinto's 25th season at the helm of the Sacred Heart Pioneers and 13th at the Division I level. Last year, Giaquinto led the Pioneers to 25 wins and a second consecutive Northeast Conference Baseball Championship for the program. It also marked the fourth consecutive appearance in the NEC Championship game for Sacred Heart University Baseball and fifth appearance in six years, including the 2006 season when Sacred Heart won its first Division I crown and earned the program's first trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament. He begins the 2013 NEC Tournament with an all-time record of 493-604-2.
The Pioneers are looking for their third straight Northeast Conference Championship, and fourth overall under Coach Giaquinto. Last season the Pioneers went 19-13 in the NEC regular season before running the table in the NEC Tournament, pitching their way to a second straight title.
The Pioneers received complete game performances from senior Tory Scribner (Washington Depot, CT), junior Nick Leiningen (Millwood, NY), and junior Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT) the past two NEC Tournaments to secure both championships. All three pitchers return for the 2012-13 campaign. Scribner was seventh in innings (75.2) and ninth in strikeouts in the NEC last season. Leiningen threw seven complete games last year and has 14 in his first two seasons as a Pioneer. Robbie Maguire (Brooklyn, NY) also returns to the rotation this season after finishing fourth in the NEC in fewest hits allowed (55) last season.
The Pioneers only lost four seniors from a year ago and return 13 guys that started a significant amount of games last season. Coach Giaquinto has also brought in nine newcomers that he hopes will be able to contribute in any way possible.
Sacred Heart returns two All-NEC caliber players of a year ago, senior shortstop John Murphy (Seymour, CT) and junior designated hitter Dan Perez (Seymour, CT). Perez was named First Team All-NEC at DH, finishing the regular season with a .311 batting average and team-best 34 RBI. He also led the Pioneers in doubles, walks, and on base percentage. Murphy was named Second Team All-NEC in 2012 after leading the Pioneers with a .338 batting average, good for fourth in the NEC. He earned All-NEC honors for the second consecutive year, leading the Pioneers in six offensive categories.
The Pioneers come back from Louisiana in time for their home opener against UCONN on March 13th at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.