LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - After playing its first 23 games away from home and having its first five scheduled dates at Siena Field wiped out due to weather, Siena Baseball finally makes its long awaited 2017 Capital Region debut Saturday. The Saints are set to host Monmouth in their MAAC home opener, with doubleheader action scheduled for 12 and 3 p.m. from Siena Field.
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Despite an extended stay on the road to open the season, Siena (9-13-1, 2-1) has weathered the proverbial early season storm. The Saints reeled off a six-game unbeaten streak, prior to suffering a 5-4 walk-off loss in the series finale at Manhattan last Sunday.
Now Siena is scheduled to enjoy what has become a season long nine-game homestand at Siena Field over the next 11 days. Following this weekend's series vs. Monmouth (8-16, 4-2), the Saints are slated to host Fordham and Army West Point in non-conference action on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before opening a three-game series with MAAC rival Canisius on Good Friday. Siena is scheduled to conclude the program's longest homestand since playing 10 straight in Loudonville in Apr. 2009, when the Saints host Central Connecticut Apr. 18.
The Saints enter this weekend's conference clash having won eight consecutive MAAC series dating back to last season. Siena opened its 2017 league slate by taking two of three last weekend at Manhattan. Overall, the Saints have won eight of their last 10 MAAC regular season contests.
Despite returning seven members of their starting lineup from a team which finished second in the conference and advanced to the league championship series for the fifth time in six years in 2016, Siena was predicted to finish sixth according to the MAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll. Meanwhile Monmouth, which finished in a three-way tie for second with the Saints and Canisius last season, is projected to finish third and received a pair of first-place votes.
Siena is expected to start sophomore southpaw Tommy Miller and freshman righthander Brendan White today in the first two games of the series. Over his past three outings spanning 20.1 innings, Miller is 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 13 strikeouts as opposed to just four walks. Meanwhile White has won consecutive starts, while allowing just eight hits and one run over 12 innings pitched having struck out 10 and walked just one.
Siena and Monmouth had never previously met prior to the Hawks joining the MAAC four years ago. The Saints have won five of the first eight meetings, which includes a pair of MAAC Tournament wins. Siena took two of three at Monmouth last season, capturing the final two games of the series behind a complete game, 11-strikeout performance from Kyano Cummings in the seven-inning affair, and a go-ahead three-run home run by Joe Drpich in the rubber game.
The Hawks are looking to bounce back after dropping two of three league contests at Canisius last weekend. Both of Monmouth's losses were by a single run. The Hawks swept their conference-opening series vs. Quinnipiac two weekends ago, routing the Bobcats 38-11 over the three-game set.