MERION STATION, Pa. – Saint Joseph’s head baseball coach Fritz Hamburg has announced the Hawks’ 2017 schedule, a challenging slate that features five teams that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and a season-opening series in California for the third consecutive season.
“Our 2017 schedule is one of the more exciting and challenging schedules that we’ve put together,” said Hamburg, now in his ninth season in the SJU dugout. “Our early-season weekends will certainly challenge our guys, but I expect us to be ready to compete and have success. We have a veteran club that needs to be tested prior to going into conference play.”
Saint Joseph’s will open the season on Friday, February 17, with the first of a three-game set at Pepperdine out in Malibu, California. The series will mark the first-ever meeting between the Hawks and the Waves.
The following weekends will see the Hawks take part in the annual Old Dominion Tournament and the Stetson Invitational. At ODU, SJU will meet Kentucky, Delaware, and the host Monarchs. The Hawks will then take on Stetson, Western Michigan, and Connecticut the following weekend; all three squads reached the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
SJU will also visit Williamsburg, Virginia, for games against William and Mary and Yale; the Tribe reached the final of the Charlottesville Regional last season, while the Bulldogs fell one game short in the Ivy League Championship Series.
The home opener is set for Friday, March 17, as the Hawks host UMass-Lowell. Iona and Towson will visit that weekend, while reigning NEC champion Bryant visits Smithson Field the following weekend.
Saint Joseph’s will fill out its non-conference schedule with home-and-home matchups against Maryland and Villanova, as well as a home game against Delaware and visits to Liberty, Longwood, Bucknell, and Rider.
The Hawks will once again take part in the annual Liberty Bell Classic tournament, hosting Villanova in a quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday, March 28. The Hawks will host either Lafayette or Penn a week later; a pair of victories would send SJU to Citizens Bank Park for the title game on either April 18 or 19. Saint Joseph’s is the defending champion, and will look to repeat after also claiming the title in 2012 and 2014.
“As we do each year, we look forward to the Liberty Bell Classic,” Hamburg said. “To have the opportunity annually to earn a spot in the championship game at Citizens Bank Park is a thrill for all of the teams, and we look forward to the opportunity to defend last season’s Liberty Bell Championship.”
Atlantic 10 play opens on Friday, March 31, with a trip to Davidson. The Hawks will also visit Fordham, VCU, and George Washington, while hosting George Mason, Richmond, La Salle, and Dayton. The 2017 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship will be held May 24-27 at the Billiken Sports Center on the campus of Saint Louis University.
“Overall, we are very excited and optimistic about the 2017 season,” Hamburg said. We feel that between the summer season and our fall, the players made some very good strides, and our incoming guys have really adjusted well to the pace of play as well. We certainly have a chance to be a very good club this season.”