STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (27-3, 10-0 GNAC) swept a conference twinbill versus Rivier College (4-26, 2-8 GNAC) at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Monday evening. The Monks posted a convincing 17-2 victory in the opener before blanking the Raiders, 7-0, in the nightcap.
Rivier scored two runs off four hits in the top of the first, with junior first baseman Aramis Velez (Lowell, Mass.) providing the punch by way of a two-run single off SJC starter Chad Rafferty (Keene, N.H.). As it turned out, the Raiders would not score another run over the remaining 13 innings of play.
The Monks responded with two runs in their first turn at the bat, when Sam Butts (Saco, Maine) led off with a walk and scored on a Dan Achorn (Bow, N.H.) double. Junior first baseman Mike Pratt (Dartmouth, Mass.) would knot the contest two batters later when he plated Achorn with a sac fly to right field.
Rafferty settled in with a perfect second frame, allowing the Royal Blue to take the lead for good with three runs off two hits in the bottom of the second. Sophomore third baseman Lincoln Sanborn (Standish, Maine) notched an RBI single and Butts recorded a sac fly to help lift the Monks to a 5-2 lead.
Sanborn continued to swing a hot bat with a two-run double during a four-run third inning and added another RBI in a six-run fourth as the hosts held a commanding 15-2 cushion heading into the fifth inning.
After a shaky start to the contest, Rafferty, Joe Gruntkosky (Peabody, Mass.), Steve Carlberg (Dover, N.H.) and Andrew Devereaux (Hope Valley, R.I.) combined to allow one hit and no free passes with 12 strikeouts over the remaining six innings of play. Gruntkosky, who yielded one hit and fanned three in two innings of relief, earned the victory and improves to 4-1 on the season.
Rivier starter Lucas Palma (Bristol, Conn.) suffered the loss after allowing 15 runs (11 earned) off 13 hits in 3.2 innings. Reliever Kevin Romero (Waterbury, Conn.) gave up two runs off four hits in 2.1 innings of mop-up duty for the visitors.
Sanborn paced the SJC offense by going 3-3 with two runs, a double and a career-best four RBI and freshman Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus) went 3-3 with three runs and an RBI in the lopsided contest. Achorn added two hits – both doubles – to go with two runs and two RBI, sophomore right fielder Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) was 2-3 with two runs, a double and two RBI, and freshman Corey Lapierre (Augusta, Maine) notched the first hit of his collegiate career and went 2-2 with a run scored in the opener.
Velez went 2-2 with two RBI and was the Raiders' lone repeat-hitter in the first game.
Sanborn was dominant in the nightcap, tossing six frames of two-hit ball with seven K's, but Rivier starter Bryar King (Berlin, N.H.) was also strong through three frames, allowing two unearned runs off three hits while fanning four. The Monks would not break through with the bats until the hosts plated five runs during the fifth and sixth innings combined.
The game was scoreless heading into the bottom of the third when the Monks scored a pair of runs to gain the lead. With one out, Butts reached with a bunt single and later scored on an infield error and Achorn, who reached on fielder's choice, crossed the plate on a passed ball to make it a 2-0 score in favor of the hosts.
The two-run cushion remained until the fifth when Saint Joseph's doubled the advantage with two scores, as Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.) and Lops recorded RBI singles to provide the Royal Blue with a 4-0 lead through five frames.
The Monks tacked on three more runs in the seventh to cap the game scoring. Senior third baseman Dan Brown (Portland, Maine/Deering) led off the inning with a walk and came around to score on a balk and second baseman Brandon Chase (Naples, Maine), who reached second on a single and an error, tapped the plate on a well-executed safety squeeze bunt by Butts. Achorn, who doubled down the left field line, scored when Willie Brown (Livermore Falls, Maine) was hit by a pitch, accounting for the 7-0 final.
Sanborn improved to 5-0 on the season after tossing six strong innings and senior Kyle Neagle (Lisbon Falls, Maine) allowed a hit and struck out a pair in a scoreless seventh frame for the Monks.
King was slapped with the loss and falls to 1-5 on the season and Romero, Justin Chenevert (Wilmington, Mass.) and John DiBenedetto (Tampa, Fla.) combined to give up five runs (three earned) off five hits and four walks in three relief innings for the Raiders.
Achorn went 3-4 with three runs, a double and a stolen base and Lops was 2-3 with an RBI in the nightcap win. Rivier was held without a repeat-hitter in the closing contest.
With the sweep, Saint Joseph's improves to 14-1 in the history of the series with Rivier College. The Monks have now defeated the Raiders in nine consecutive meetings dating back to the 2008 campaign.
Saint Joseph's resumes conference play when the team travels to Norwich University on Wednesday for a 2:00 PM twinbill versus the Cadets.