AUBURNDALE, FL – Saint Joseph's College (3-0) won both ends of a doubleheader versus Framingham State University (0-4), winning the first game 9-4 and the second by a 5-3 margin, in the RussMatt Invitational on Monday.
The unflappable Monks trailed early in both games but managed to score runs in bunches en route to a pair of victories over the Rams. The opener was tied 4-4 before St. Joe's pushed across five runs in the bottom of the third to seize control of the contest. In the nightcap the Rams held a 1-0 edge after one frame but the Monks put up a pair of runs with two out in the top of the second and added two more in the top of the fifth to claim a lead they would not relinquish.
The first win of the day was an historic one as Head Coach Will Sanborn '86 became the winningest coach in SJC Athletics history with the triumph. Sanborn, now in his 20th season as the Monks' skipper, surpassed former men's basketball coach Rick Simonds for the all-time lead and now owns a 505-288-5 (.637) during his career.
Framingham staked a 1-0 edge in the top of the first when Matthew Roberge belted an RBI double to left and doubled their cushion with a sac fly to center off the bat of Chris Blydell in their next turn.
The Monks punched across a pair in the bottom of the second to knot the game at two apiece. Freshman designated hitter Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.) ignited the offense with a double to right-center, moved to third when first-year catcher Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus) notched his first NCAA hit, a single up the middle, and scored on a double to right off the bat of senior shortstop Dan Achorn (Bow, N.H.). Junior second baseman Brandon Chase (Naples, Maine) sent Lops scrambling home with a groundout to second to tie the game, 2-2.
Unfazed, the Rams proceeded to take a 4-2 lead with two runs off three hits in the top of the third. Tony Iafolla (Medfield, Mass.) provided the punch with a two-run single, making it a two-run game with four innings to play.
The seesaw battle continued in the bottom of the third as the Monks scored two off one hit and a pair of Framingham miscues to tie the game once again. Junior right fielder Nate Martin (Chebeague Island, Maine) reached on an error and later scored when a ball hit by sophomore left fielder Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) was misplayed. Coyne plated junior center fielder Sam Butts (Saco, Maine), who doubled to right, with a fielder's choice to knot the game at four each.
SJC sophomore starting pitcher Lincoln Sanborn (Standish, Maine) produced a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, a feat that allowed his team to take the lead for good as the Royal Blue went on to score five runs off five hits and a Framingham error – all with two outs - in the bottom of the inning to earn a 9-4 cushion. Chase started the hit parade with a double to right field and scored when the next hitter, Martin, singled to center. Martin later scored on a first and third steal play and Lorenc slapped a single to right to plate Butts, who reached on an error and stole second, and crossed the plate when junior first baseman Mike Pratt (Dartmouth, Mass.) singled to left. Pratt scored when the following hitter, Coyne, drove a ball down the right field line for a triple to make it a 9-4 contest heading into the fifth inning.
Sanborn fanned four batters in his first collegiate victory and allowed four runs off seven hits and a walk in four innings on the hill. Relievers Andrew Devereaux (Hope Valley, R.I.), Kyle Neagle (Lisbon Falls, Maine) and Chris Bryant (Gray, Maine) all worked effective innings to close out the contest.
Framingham starter Brendan Busa was hit with the loss after yielding nine runs – four earned – off 13 hits.
For the Monks, Martin went 2-3 with two runs, an RBI and a stolen base, Butts was 1-3 with two runs, and Coyne added two hits in three trips with a run, a double, a triple, and two RBI.
For the Rams, Roberge was 3-3 with a run and an RBI, Ivan Colon went 2-3, and William Crofton was 2-4 with a run scored.
The nightcap contest started in a similar fashion as the Rams opened with a run off a hit and a walk to gain a 1-0 lead after one frame. Although the game remained close, it would not be a back and forth battle as the Monks pushed two runs across with two hits – and two outs - in the top of the second to secure the advantage for good. Sanborn was hit by a pitch and Achorn singled though the left side to give St. Joe's runners on first and second with two down. Up next was Chase, who belted a triple to deep left-center, plating both Sanborn and Achorn and lifting the Royal Blue to a 2-1 cushion.
The one-run lead held true until the top of the fifth when the Monks added two runs off three hits. With one out, Butts singled sharply through the right side and, after sophomore designated hitter Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.) flew out to center, scored when Pratt doubled down the left field line. Coyne sent Pratt home with a line-drive base knock to left, lifting Saint Joseph's to a 4-1 lead.
Framingham would not go down easily however, as the Rams proceeded to score twice in the bottom of the fifth to cut the SJC lead down to 4-3. Billy Rundlett singled through the left side and later scored on a Crofton groundout. Colon, who reached with a double to left-center, scampered home on a wild pitch to make it a one-run game.
The Monks were able to gain some much-needed breathing room in the sixth when Chase plated Sanborn, who reached on an error, with a single to center field.
Sophomore starting pitcher Joe Gruntkosky (Peabody, Mass.) collected the victory on the hill after striking out seven with three runs allowed off four hits and two walks in six innings. Neagle worked a flawless seventh to earn his first save of the season.
Framingham starter Ryan Bowen went the distance with four earned runs allowed off nine hits. He fanned three SJC batters on the day.
For the Monks, Coyne went 3-4 with a double and an RBI, Chase was 2-3 with a triple and three RBI, and Sanborn went 1-2 with a pair of runs scored.
Colon, Crofton and Iafolla all belted doubles in the losing effort for the Rams.
With the victories, Saint Joseph's improves to 4-3 in the history of the series with Framingham State. The Rams swept a doubleheader with the Monks during last year's spring trip. St. Joe's has not gone 3-0 to start a season since the 2007 campaign when the Monks opened the year with a program-record 12 consecutive victories.
Saint Joseph's will face off against nationally-ranked Wheaton College tomorrow in a single nine-inning tilt slated to start at 9:00 AM. Framingham is set to play Edgewood at 5:30 PM tomorrow night.