Pine-Richland alum Professori becomes La Roche all-time hits leader
In Game 2 of a La Roche doubleheader against Penn State Behrend on April 25, Redhawks second baseman Joe Professori dug in to the batter’s box in the top of the first inning and saw a pitch he liked.
The Pine-Richland launched ithat pitch over the fence for a two-run homer.
Not only did he give his team a 2-0 lead, but Professori’s blast marked career hit No. 222, making him the program’s all-time hits leader.
“When I hit it, I had a feeling that it was going out. I knew I got it pretty well,” Professori said. “The field we were playing at — at Behrend — I’ve seen guys get a ball pretty good, but it gets caught up in there in the wind and it dies. But it was a nice day out, and I put a good swing on it and it went over. That was it.
“I was rounding the bases, and I came home and Jon Spina grabbed me and gave me a big hug and said congratulations. I said ‘For what?’ And he told me I just broke the record. Everyone came out of the dugout to congratulate me.”
Professori’s home run in the 31st game of his senior season pushed him past Colin Williamson as the Redhawks all-time hits leader. Though LaRoche’s infielder/catcher and No. 3 hitter wasn’t closely monitoring his chase for the all-time top spot, he said it represents a big accomplishment.
“It’s amazing. I put a lot of hard work and time in. I worked with my coaches, coach Sean Rubin and Chase Lowe both spent countless hours working with me throughout my career and were great helps for me,” Professori said. “I listened to my teammates and got great advice from everybody. I really couldn’t have done it and had this success without everyone around me.”
Success has been orbiting around Professori all season, as he is helping lead the Redhawks (24-12, 16-2) to a first-place finish in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference while maintaining a blistering pace at the plate.
Professori leads all AMCC baseball players in batting average (.399), is tied for the league-lead in home runs (nine) and is second in the conference in RBIs (43). He has walked 17 times and struck out just 11 times. And he only seems to get better as the season progresses.
The former Pine-Richland standout recently was named the AMCC Player of the Week Award, racking up three home runs, eight RBI, 11 runs and seven walks for the honor.
“I pretty much just keep sticking with the same approach. I’m trying to drive the ball, get on base and do whatever I can to help my team win,” Professori said.
Kevin Lohman is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.