There is no denying that last year’s season didn’t go as planned for Sacred Heart University (SHU) men’s baseball team, who finished with an overall record of 12-41. Although they are only six games into their 2023 campaign, there is a different feeling surrounding the team this year.
On Feb. 24, the team traveled to Virginia to take on Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in a three-game series. SHU would go onto sweep VCU and post a shocking 29 runs across three-games.
Sam Mongelli, a senior infielder, played a huge role in securing the sweep for SHU and is a major catalyst for the team’s early offensive success.
“I feel very comfortable in the box and I’m seeing the ball really well,” said Mongelli. “It stems from the preparation in batting practice and the intensity my teammates bring from the dugout. Their energy gives me the ability to grind out at-bats and find a way to get on base.”
Over the three-game stretch versus VCU, Mongelli went 3-6 from the plate in the first game, 5-5 in the second game, and 4-6 in the series finale.
“As long as our offense keeps producing, we have the potential to have a great year,” said Mongelli. “However, I try not to look too far into the future. We had a great weekend versus VCU, but it means nothing if we don’t continue to show up and put in the necessary work to get better day in and day out.”
SHU’s early success can also be attributed to their new head coach, Pat Egan, who was hired this past August.
“The transition into my new role at Sacred Heart has been great,” said Egan. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that we have a really great group of guys on this roster. We have 17 seniors and graduate students combined, so to have an older team that is eager to win has helped quite a bit.”
Although SHU found themselves in an 0-3 hole to start the year, the players never lost faith in coach Egan, and he never lost faith in them.
“I don’t like losing,” said Egan. “I was upset that we didn’t really play our brand of baseball to start the year. Before our matchup versus VCU, I challenged the guys to be tougher. I want to develop an identity where we play our brand of baseball and let the scoreboard results figure themselves out.”
Joe Emerson, a graduate student and one of the captains on this year’s team, helped his team establish the identity that coach Egan felt was needed.
“It’s a great honor to be named captain for the second year in a row,” said Emerson. “Having the opportunity to do something special is really exciting. We didn’t achieve many of our goals last year, but with an older crowd this year, we are all on the same page. We want to win.”
Emerson, a leader on the field and in the clubhouse, credits coach Egan’s work ethic for helping get his teammates fired up.
“Coach Egan is an awesome guy,” said Emerson. “What stands out to me the most is the passion and commitment he brings. From day one you can see the investment he put in every single one of us. As much as we want to win and play for each other, we want to play for him just as much. Not only does he make us better baseball players, but he makes us better men.”
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.