March 27, 2014, 6:15 p.m.
For some pitchers, hitting is just a natural part of their game.  They love the feeling of being a dual threat.

Such is the case for Joey Ravert, a sophomore starting pitcher for the La Salle Explorers.

A native of Havertown, Ravert has always prided himself on being a good hitter while also being successful on the mound.

"It's a lot of fun," Ravert said.  "It's pretty tough to manage both aspects of the game.  I definitely put a lot of extra time working on it.  I want to be at the highest level on the mound and at the plate.  

"I'm probably more talented on the mound.  Going forward, I'll probably focus more on that.  I love to hit.  I'm probably not going to give up hitting any time soon."

The sophomore right-hander is also a dominant presence at the plate.  

In 2013, Ravert's pitching was not as good as his hitting.  In 51 games played he batted .310 with 44 hits and 19 RBI.  On the mound he struggled a bit as a reliever, though, resulting in an 0-1 record with a 5.66 ERA in 20 2/3 innings.

This season, Ravert has almost reversed those numbers, posting an impressive 3.32 ERA with a 1-0 record in three games, while striking out 12 batters in 19 innings.  His quality pitching this season has earned him a starting spot in the rotation.

Ravert has caught the eye of coach Mike Lake, and Ravert is being rewarded for his hard effort.

"As of right now, pitching-wise, he's going to start for us," Lake said.  "He proved it four weeks ago against St. Louis.   He went seven strong innings.  That's what we're hoping he can do for us.  

"We're a little unfortunate now for a couple of injuries that we need guys to step up, and that's why we're counting on Joe.  You got to watch taking him out of the game too because he could be a threat."

While Ravert did not have a sharp outing last Saturday against the University of Massachusetts, surrendering three earned runs in three innings with six walks, he expects to pitch better this weekend against Rhode Island.

"I just got to come in and throw more strikes," Ravert said.  "That's it.  I have to throw more strikes, and not get behind in counts.  It's a pretty simple game plan."

Even though Ravert did struggle with his pitches on Saturday, he raised his batting average on Sunday with a sharp, convincing, hard-hit single to right, and also drew a walk in helping the Explorers capture a 3-0 shutout of the Minutemen at Hank DeVincent Field.

Being a dual-threat baseball player has many advantages.  Ravert was able to have a solid day at the plate, and divert his coaches' attention away from the rough outing that he had on Saturday.

Ravert and the Explorers open a three-game series with Rhode Island on Friday with first pitch set for 3 P.M. at Hank DeVincent Field.

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region.   

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