May 8, 2009
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning was the difference Friday night, as the Saint Joseph's baseball team fell at the hands of the Charlotte 49ers at Robert & Mariam Hayes Stadium. The Hawks held leads at four different points during the game, but the 49er offense was too much, providing six runs in the last four innings of the back-and-forth affair.
Saint Joseph's (14-27-1, 7-14 Atlantic 10) offense got off to a quick start, scoring in each of the first four innings. In the first inning, leadoff man Mike Plakis scored on a two-out single by Oriente, giving the Hawks a 1-0 lead after the first half inning.
Charlotte (29-17, 13-9 Atlantic 10) evened the score via an unearned run in the bottom half of the first. Catcher Zane Williams doubled home Alan Parks, who reached via an error.
SJU took the lead again in the second inning. First baseman Brian Hartsell and Ryan McDonald started the inning with back-to-back singles. They each advanced a base on a Mike Blahusch groundout. Then Plakis singled to right field, scoring Hartsell. Mike Coleman drove McDonald home with a single of his own.
The 49ers wasted no time in responding. Charlotte's Cory Tilton hit a two-run home run to tie it up.
Saint Joseph's would jump out to a lead again in the third. Oriente slugged a home run to center field, putting the Hawks up 4-3. Later in the inning, a McDonald RBI single would extend the lead by a run.
Once again, Charlotte would have an answer. A couple of walks and a wild pitch in the bottom half of the third would get starter Chris Prescott into trouble. Shortstop Grant Bomann drove home two runs with a single to right field, allowing the 49ers to tie the game, 5-5.
The fourth inning was another busy one for the Hawks' offense. Plakis' third hit of the night, a double, would put Saint Joseph's into position to score again. Coleman followed suit with a single. Plakis scored when David Valesente reached base on an error by Bomann. Oriente then drove home another run, this time via a sacrifice fly that plated Coleman. Saint Joseph's would strand two in the fourth, but held a 7-5 advantage.
Reliever Matt Barnathan was able to hold Charlotte scoreless for two innings, but the 49ers tagged him for four runs, three earned, in the sixth and seventh innings.
Sloppy play by Saint Joseph's allowed Charlotte to tie them again. The 49ers scored on an error by Smith, and again on a wild pitch by Barnathan on the following play.
After the 49ers scored two more times in the seventh, junior Mike Boyland relieved Barnathan, getting two quick outs and limiting the damage.
In the eighth, Saint Joseph's would rally and tie the game thanks to a clutch hit from an unexpected source.
With one out and Joe Cook on first, Kemp, who was pinch hitting for Plakis, launched a home run down the left field line, tying the game at 9-9. Kemp has spent most of his time on the mound this season, appearing in fifteen games as pitcher, and entering the game with just 12 career at bats under his belt.
However, Charlotte would have the last laugh.
Charlotte first baseman Ryan Lylerly smacked a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, giving the 49ers the 11-9 win and improving their record to 13-9 in the Atlantic 10.
Saint Joseph's will face off with Charlotte again tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in the second of a three game set. Live stats will be available via Gametracker at SJUHawks.com.