STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (19-2, 4-0 GNAC) defeated Colby College (7-9, 0-3 NESCAC), 4-2, in a non-conference baseball contest at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Friday afternoon. Sophomore pitcher Nick Whittaker (Yarmouth, Maine) improved to 3-0 on the season after fanning three batters over three innings in the victory.
The Monks took advantage of a pair of Mules' miscues and two balks by opposing starter Brady Hesslein (Newton, Mass.) en route to posting a 4-0 lead through three innings of play. In the first frame, junior center fielder Sam Butts (Saco, Maine) and senior shortstop Dan Achorn (Bow, N.H.) sparked the SJC offense with consecutive base hits and both players moved up a base on a balk. Two batters later, junior first baseman Mike Pratt (Dartmouth, Mass.) plated Butts with a single to center and Achorn sprinted home when sophomore right fielder Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) lifted a sac fly to center, making a 2-0 contest in favor of the hosts.
With St. Joe's starting pitcher Tyler Laverriere (Biddeford, Maine) dealing, the two-run cushion stood until the bottom of the third when the Royal Blue tacked on two more. With one out, rookie catcher Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.) singled through the left side and moved to third when Pratt reached on an error by Colby shortstop Brandon Nieuw (Port Chester, N.Y.). Coyne scored when the following batter, Lorenc, singled through the right side and Pratt would touch the plate two batters later when Hesslein was slapped with his second balk of the afternoon, lifting St. Joe's to a 4-0 advantage.
The Mules managed to score a run in the top of the fourth, but the damage could have been much worse as Whittaker managed to work his way out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation. After allowing three consecutive singles, Whittaker struck out Kevin Galvin (Portsmouth, R.I.) and Luke Duncklee (Augusta, Maine) for the first two outs of the inning. The following Colby hitter, Nieuw, singled through the right side to send Rob Arndt (Yarmouth, Maine) across the plate, but Brendan Gallagher (Dublin, N.H.) was cut down at the plate as Lorenc rifled a perfect throw to Coyne, who blocked the plate and applied the tag for the third out.
Colby managed to cut their deficit to two by scoring an unearned run in the top of the eighth. Arndt reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second when Gallagher worked a walk, scampered to third on an infield out, and tagged home plate on an error by SJC third baseman Lincoln Sanborn (Standish, Maine) to make it a 4-2 game.
The Mules threatened in the top of the ninth as the visitors had runners on first and second with two out, but St. Joe's senior reliever Kyle Neagle (Lisbon Falls, Maine) induced a lazy fly out off the bat of Arndt to close out the contest to notch his fourth save of the season.
On the mound for the Monks, Laverriere allowed two hits and fanned two in three frames, Whittaker yielded one run off five hits over three innings, freshman righty Alex Valenti (Lawrence, Mass.) gave up a run off two hits and a walk and struck out one in two innings, and Neagle surrendered a hit and a walk in the ninth.
Hesslein falls to 2-2 on the year after allowing four runs (three earned) off eight hits with a pair of K's in 6.2 innings and Colby reliever Lucas Geoghegan (Boston, Mass.) fanned one and gave up one hit in 1.1 frames.
Sophomore left fielder Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.), 2-3 with two singles, was the Monks' lone repeat hitter on the afternoon. Lorenc knocked in a pair of runs in the SJC victory.
For the Mules, Nikolas Atsalis (West Hyannis Port, Mass.), Jason Buco (Methuen, Mass.) and Arndt all recorded two-hit performances in a losing effort.
With the win Saint Joseph's improves to 17-12 in the history of the series with Colby College. Prior to a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Mules in Waterville last spring the Monks had defeated Colby in eight consecutive meetings.
Saint Joseph's will play at Emerson College (Maplewood Field, Malden, Mass.) on Saturday in a GNAC twinbill set to start at 4:00 PM. Colby plays at Brandeis University on Saturday in a non-conference twinbill beginning at 12:00 PM.
Saint Joseph's College, founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, celebrates its Centennial year in 2012 with a theme of "Realize the Promise" – honoring our commitment to educating well-rounded graduates who combine career focus with classic liberal arts studies. A Private, Catholic, primarily residential, coeducational liberal arts institution, Saint Joseph's welcomes students of all ages and all faiths. The campus, located 18 miles northwest of Portland and just two hours from Boston, encompasses 350 acres along the shore of beautiful Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine. Enrollment ranges between 1,000 and 1,100 students annually. Saint Joseph's offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education, nursing and business fields in a value-centered environment.