Michael Vilardi after his complete game against Mercy College in late March. Photo: Queens College Athletics

Queens Baseball Sits At the Top of East Coast Conference Late in the Season

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Editor’s Note: This article was written on April 2nd. All statistics are up until that point. As of the 10th, the Knights are 16-13 overall with a 7-5 conference record with 12 conference games left to go.

If you weren’t aware, it’s an exciting time for Queens College baseball.  With a month left to play this season, the Queens College Knights currently own the best record within the East Coast Conference. The team is 15-10 overall as of April 2nd with a 9-8 non-conference record, but still sits atop the ECC after posting a 6-2 record in their first 8 conference games. Although the Knights will play most of their conference games throughout the final stretch, they have taken care of the ones in front of them thus far, and they now look poised to make another run. 

The Knights’ 2023 season concluded with an East Coast Conference Championship that had eluded them for the previous 25 years. They looked to get their campaign for a repeat off to a strong start and did just that. The Knights came back to Flushing from Spring Training in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with a 4-0 record following wins in all of their games, including an impressive 4-1 victory over Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to open the season.  SNHU was ranked as the third best team in the East Region by the most recent National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Division II Poll. The Knights have received national recognition themselves, currently ranking fourth in the same poll. 

All the good vibes from spring training unfortunately came to an abrupt halt as the Knights dropped their next four games after arriving back up North. They won two of their next three before going into a four game series against the Assumption University Greyhounds, which consisted of back-to-back doubleheaders on March 16th and 17th. The Knights won one and lost one during the first day against the Greyhounds, then lost the front end of the second double bill. A talented Knights roster saw themselves holding a 7-7 record going into the last game of their series with Assumption. Since then, however, the team has really picked up the slack.  

QC baseball’s offense stacked 11 hits in their last game with Assumption, cruising to a 14-3 victory and starting the run they are currently on. Since their win in the final game of the Assumption series, the Knights have come out victorious in seven of their last ten contests including the last three. During their most recent winning streak, the Knights’ offense has lifted them to conference wins over Mercy University by exploding for a total of 43 runs over the course of the three games.  

There’s plenty of credit to go around when it comes to who’s responsible for the Knights’ overall success so far this year — and thankfully they’ve been getting all the recognition they deserve.  Sophomore right fielder Jorsixt Jimenez has led the way offensively; his hitting ability has earned him ECC Player of the Week honors two of the last three weeks. And after posting 14 hits over the last seven games, he was also awarded Player of the Week for the entire Eastern Region by the NCBWA for the first time this past week.  

In fact, the Knights have swept the ECC Weekly Awards in Week 7 thanks to Jimenez and freshman pitcher Michael Vilardi, who was named Pitcher and Rookie of the Week for his efforts. Vilardi made two impressive starts during the last week in March. He also pitched his first career complete game in the Knights’ last win of their three game winning streak, earning a team-leading fourth win from the mound and going 4-0 to this point. His most recent performance on the hill has also notably made Vilardi the first QC freshman since 2017 to pitch a complete game in a win. Jimenez and Vilardi weren’t the only ones recognized this past week though, as Junior first baseman Matt Filip and Sophomore right fielder Joey Patane each earned a spot on the ECC Weekly Honor Roll for their recent contributions to the offense.

As of writing this, the .600 overall winning percentage the Knights have played to thus far trails only the Molloy University Lions for best in the ECC, but the Lions have lost three of their first seven conference games. Molloy was the team the Knights defeated in dramatic fashion to overcome their 25 year championship drought last year, after Molloy claimed the title over the Knights in the final game the previous season. Unlike last year though, the two teams have yet to meet to this point. This year, their meeting has been reserved for the final four game series of the regular season.

The Knights and Lions are currently the only teams in the conference to own a winning record, a similar development to where things stood at this point last year. It seems as if the two may be on a collision course to a third championship game matchup in a best of three scenario. If that’s where we do end up, the Lions will surely be looking for redemption from the Knights and a third championship in four years.  

So how far can the Knights ride this hot streak over the final stretch? Can they disappoint Molloy and everyone else en route to back-to-back championships and a second straight NCAA tournament appearance for the first time in school history? Stay tuned and make sure you’re paying attention. It’s going to be a fun ride.

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