JERSEY CITY, NJ – Saint Joseph's (11-1) won both ends of a non-conference doubleheader versus New Jersey City University (6-7) on Saturday. The Monks recorded a 7-2 win in the opener and came from behind to steal the nightcap by a 6-4 margin.
St. Joe's jumped out to a 1-0 lead when junior left fielder Sam Butts (Saco, Maine) tripled and scored on a Mike Pratt (Dartmouth, Mass.) two-out single. The Gothic Knights managed to tie the game in the bottom of the second, but the Monks would take the lead for good, as it turned out, when Pratt led off the third with a double to left and scored on a Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus) infield groundout.
With junior starting pitcher Tyler Laverriere (Biddeford, Maine) dealing, the Monks added two in the top of the fifth when Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.), Lops and Lincoln Sanborn (Standish, Maine) belted doubles, the latter two driving home runs. Junior second baseman Brandon Chase (Naples, Maine) extended the Monks' cushion to 5-1 when he started the top of the sixth with a deep home run, his first of the year, to left center.
The hosts would plate their second run of the game in the bottom of the seventh, but Saint Joseph's countered with two runs in the top of the ninth when Sanborn was struck with an errant fastball with the bases loaded and senior shortstop Dan Achorn (Bow, N.H.) produced a sacrifice fly to right field.
Laverriere (1-1) was outstanding in what was his second start of the season, allowing one run off four hits with six strikeouts over six innings. Senior reliever Kyle Neagle (Lisbon Falls, Maine) tossed three one-hit frames to record his third save of the season.
NJCU junior starter Wendell Rodriguez (Ponce, Puerto Rico), now 2-2 on the season, suffered the loss after yielding five runs off 13 hits with four K's in eight innings. Junior Orlando Bolano (Hoboken, N.J.) and sophomore Ryan Mitchell (Colonia, N.J.) combined to allow two runs off one hit and a pair of walks in the ninth inning.
Lops posted a fine day at the plate, going 2-4 with a run, a double and two RBI, and Pratt added two hits in four trips with two runs, a double and an RBI. Junior center fielder Nate Martin (Chebeague Island, Maine), Achorn and Chase all chipped in with two-hit efforts while Sanborn notched a double and two RBI in the victory.
Freshman utility player Juan Cruz (Jersey City, N.J.), who rapped a pair of singles in four at bats, was Gothic Knights' lone repeat hitter.
The nightcap tested the Monks' mettle as the visitors were forced to battle from behind on several occasions en route to posting the twinbill sweep. The Gothic Knights started the see-saw skirmish by scoring two runs off two hits in the bottom of the third. St. Joe's managed to knot the game at two-apiece when Butts reached on an infield error with bases loaded in the top of the fifth frame. Chase, who reached on a fielder's choice, and Sanborn, who reached via hit by pitch, both scored on the play.
Unfazed, the hosts regained the lead shortly thereafter with a run with two out in the bottom of the fifth. Andrew Rivera (Edison, N.J.) started the rally by fisting a double to left field and scored when the next batter, Bolano, slapped a base hit to center.
The Monks followed the two-out scoring theme with a run off two hits in the same scenario in their next turn at the bat. Sophomore Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.) drove a two-strike offering up the middle for a single, moved up a bag when Sanborn was drilled yet again, and scored on a base knock by senior Dan Brown (Portland, Maine/Deering), tying the game 3-3.
The Gothic Knights struck again with a run in the bottom of the sixth to retake the advantage. Cruz led off the inning by working a walk and later scored on a sac fly to provide his team with a 4-3 lead.
The hosts' edge was short-lived as Saint Joseph's proceeded to plate a pair in the top of the seventh to post the final scoring swing of the afternoon. With one out Coyne and Pratt both reached with singles and later scored on a Markakis base hit to put the Royal Blue ahead to stay.
St. Joe's employed wily baserunning tactics to add an insurance run in the top of the eighth. Achorn led off with a single to center and, thanks to the wherewithal of Head Coach Will Sanborn '86, moved up to second when the NJCU infielders snoozed after an infield pop-out. The senior proceeded to scamper to third on a wild pitch and scored on a first and third steal play to account for the game's final score.
Freshman starting pitcher Alex Valenti (Lawrence, Mass.) worked five effective innings, allowing three runs off five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Junior righthander Jimmy Kennedy (York, Maine) tossed 3.2 frames of solid relief to earn his second victory of the season, allowing one run off three hits and a walk while fanning three batters. Freshman southpaw Steve Carlberg (Dover, N.H.) added his first NCAA save, retiring the only batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth.
Gothic Knights senior Nelson Maldonado (Newark, N.J.) was the hard-luck loser after allowing five runs (two earned) off eight hits and three walks with four punchouts in seven innings. Freshman Kevin DeMauro (Kearny, N.J.) allowed an unearned run off two hits and a walk with three K's in two frames of relief for the hosts.
For the Monks, Markakis went 2-4 with a run and an RBI, Brown was 2-3 with an RBI, and Pratt added two hits in five trips with a run scored.
For the Gothic Knights, Andrew Rivera (Edison, N.J.) recorded a pair of doubles with a run scored and two RBI, Martucci went 2-5 with a run, and junior third baseman Brian Bustillo (Jersey City, N.J.) was 2-4 in a losing effort.
With the wins, Saint Joseph's improves to 9-1 in the history of the series with New Jersey City University. The Monks have now defeated the Gothic Knights in six consecutive meetings dating back to the 2010 campaign.
The same two teams will meet again on Sunday morning in a single nine-inning game slated to begin at 9:00 AM.