April 7, 2009
NORRISTOWN, Pa. - The Saint Joseph's baseball team fought back from an early 6-0 hole but could not complete the comeback as Delaware earned a trip to Citizens Bank Park with a 12-9 win in the semifinals of the 2009 Liberty Bell Classic. Dewey Oriente was one of three Hawks to rack up at least three hits in the game, finishing 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two more driven in.
Delaware (19-10) exploded out of the gates, scoring six runs on six hits and three walks in the top of the first. Ryan Cuneo and Chris Nehl had back-to-back home runs to start the scoring, and Hawk starter Quentin Farr was chased after just six batters.
Saint Joseph's (10-16-1) got one back in the bottom of the second. David Valesente extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double to left to lead off the frame and moved up to third on a single up the middle by Oriente. Unfortunately for SJU, Mike Boyland grounded into a double play that brought the run home but left the bases empty with two out.
The Blue Hens went back up six in the third when Carlos Alonso walked, advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cuneo. Cuneo would later score on a sacrifice fly by Bill Merkler in the fifth to make the score 8-1.
The Hawks scored in the fifth on a bases-loaded, two-out single by Mike Plakis, but Boyland was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
UD seemingly put the game out of reach in the top of the sixth on a three-run home run by Alonso with two outs. However, Saint Joseph's worked its way back into the contest with a six-spot of its own to close to within three.
Phil Pursino led off the frame with a walk and advanced to third after Valesente doubled two batters later. Oriente followed with a single up the middle to plate the runners and cut the deficit to 11-4. Boyland then reached on a fielding error, sending Oriente to third with one out. Mike Blahusch loaded the bases when he was hit with a pitch for the 31st time in his career, extending his school record. Brian Hartsell followed with a tough ground ball that Alonso managed to knock down at third base, allowing Oriente to score and cut the UD lead to six.
Mike Coleman then hit into a fielder's choice to score Boyland before Plakis ripped a double over the center fielder's head to score two more and get the Hawks back within a single swing. Pursino then hit a hard grounder to Alonso, who barely got the tag on Plakis to end the threat.
Ryan Reed hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh to push the score up to 12-8.
Saint Joseph's made one last attempt at a rally in the bottom of the ninth as Plakis and Pursino started the inning off with singles. Two batters later Valesente singled to right to score Plakis and cut the lead to 12-9 and bring the hot-hitting Oriente to the plate. Unfortunately for the Crimson and Gray, Oriente hit a ground ball right back to pitcher Corey Crispell, who threw to second to start the game-ending 1-6-3 double play.
Plakis finished the day 3-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI. Valesente added three hits of his own to go with a pair of runs scored and an RBI.
The Hawks will host Delaware once again on Wednesday at Latshaw-McCarthy Field. First pitch is set for 3:00 p.m.; live stats and streaming audio will be available at SJUHawks.com.