STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (20-4, 13-1 GNAC) swept a conference twinbill against Johnson & Wales University (16-12, 11-5 GNAC) at Richard W. Bailey Field on Saturday afternoon. The Monks won the opener, 3-0, before blasting the Wildcats, 11-2 in five innings, in the nightcap.
SJC senior starting pitcher Maddie Kluna (Standish, Maine) received all the run support she would require when classmate Emily Leverone (Hampton, N.H.) belted a solo home run with two out in the bottom of the first inning.
The 1-0 edge held true until the bottom of the fifth frame when Saint Joseph's tacked on a score to secure a 2-0 advantage. Senior catcher Maria Labbe (Lewiston, Maine) led off with a double to left-center and was lifted in favor of junior pinch runner Kirin Schrum (Littleton, N.H.), who scored three batters later when junior right fielder Danyelle Shufelt (Sutton, Vt.) reached with a bunt single.
Leverone went on to add an insurance run when she blasted her second jack of the contest, a solo tater with one out in the bottom of the sixth, to make it a 3-0 game in favor of the hosts. The two-homer effort was the third of her career and first since she lifted two over the fence versus Simmons College on April 24th, 2010.
Kluna tossed a gem, allowing three hits and four walks with eight strikeouts in the complete-game victory. The senior hurler improves to 6-3 on the season, with all six victories being shutouts, and has not allowed a run in her last 19 innings of work.
Leverone was the game's lone repeat hitter, having gone 2-3 with the two solo homers in the triumph.
Wildcats sophomore pitcher Alyssa Babineau (Princeton, Mass.) was hit with the loss after allowing two runs off five hits in 3.2 innings of work. Sophomore Taylor Cwalinski (Jackson, N.J.) yielded one run – Leverone's second blast of the day – and fanned a pair in 2.1 innings of relief for the visitors.
The Wildcats scored their first run of the day in the top of the first when Heather Imperatore (Westerly, R.I.) reached on an infield error and later scored on a two-out double by Kelsey Dunn (Silver Spring, Md.).
The visitors' lead would not last long however, as the Royal Blue put up four runs off seven hits in the bottom of the first to secure a lead that would not be relinquished. The scoring began when sophomore second sacker Connie Grovo (Limington, Maine), who reached with a one-out single to right-center, scored on a Leverone two-bagger to center. Junior designated player Heather Tripp (Lovell, Maine) followed with a double to plate Leverone and sophomore shortstop Lindsay Moore (Barrington, N.H.) provided the punch with a two-run home run over the left-center wall to make it a 4-1 game after one inning of play.
Saint Joseph's proceeded to put the game out of reach by scoring four runs off three hits in their next turn at the bat. Leverone reached with a walk and scored two batters later when Moore singled to center and Labbe dealt a decisive blow by hitting a three-run home run to left field, lifting St. Joe's to an 8-1 cushion after two frames.
The Monks tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth, as Theresa Hendrix (Scarborough, Maine/Cheverus), Labbe and Kluna notched an RBI apiece to make it an 11-1 game. Johnson & Wales added a meaningless run – Imperatore scored on a Cwalinski single to center - in the top of the fifth to account for the 11-2 final.
SJC starting pitcher Kayla Vannah (Waldoboro, Maine) improved to 6-0 on the season after yielding two runs (one earned) off five hits while fanning three in five innings. Cwalinski took the loss for the visitors after allowing seven runs off nine hits and a pair of walks in 3.2 innings of work. Babineau gave up four runs off four hits in 1/3 inning of relief.
Tripp led the Monks' offensive efforts by going 3-3 with three runs and an RBI and Moore went 2-2 with three runs and three RBI in the mercy-rule victory. Hendrix was 2-3 with a run scored, a double and an RBI and Labbe went 2-4 with a run and four RBI on the afternoon.
With the sweep, St. Joe's improves to 10-0 in the history of the series with Johnson & Wales. The Monks have now won 11 straight games and hold sole possession of the top slot in the GNAC standings.
Saint Joseph's will host Pine Manor College on Monday afternoon in a GNAC twinbill slated to start at 4:00 PM. Johnson & Wales hosts UMass.-Dartmouth in a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday at 3:30 PM.