PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For the second straight season, the La Salle baseball team has qualified for the Atlantic 10 Baseball Tournament, which will once again be played at Campbell’s Field in Camden, NJ.

A 13-11 conference record earned the Explorers the sixth of six seeds in the tourney.

La Salle will open things up on Wednesday afternoon against #3 seed Dayton, and Explorers head coach Mike Lake says the Dayton Flyers are a tough draw.

“They pitch well, they swing the bat well, they run well, and they play good defense,” Coach Lake admits.  “They ended up seeded third in the conference and (weren’t) too far away from the second and the first seed.”

Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with Mike Lake in this CBS Philly SportsPod…

La Salle has been carried by some dominant pitching in 2011, and they will lean on their ace in the tournament opener.

Senior Kevin Fuqua (in top photo)

lake mike la salle side College Baseball: La Salle Readying for A 10 Tournament

(Coach Mike Lake)

brings a 6-4 record and a 2.76 ERA into Wednesday’s start.  In 98 innings he has 69 strikeouts and just 25 walks.   The Derwood, Md. native is red hot — last time out he threw a complete game shutout at St. Louis, and he is the reigning Atlantic-10 and Big 5 “Pitcher of the Week.”

Fuqua is at the top of a strong starting rotation for the Explorers, and Lake says they could be a big key in a tournament setup:

“We’ve been very fortunate this year with the starting pitching.  They’ve been pounding the strike zone and that’s the name of the game.  It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you just gotta pound the strike zone and let your defense take care of everything, and so far that’s what we’ve been doing,” Lake told KYW Newsradio.

The Explorers’ back end of the bullpen is also rock solid, with sophomore closer Pat Christensen and his 13 saves and 1.24 ERA.

La Salle and Dayton did not play during the regular season.  The winner of this game moves on to face Rhode Island on Thursday, while the loser gets sent to the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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