April 3, 2012
MERION STATION, Pa. - Sophomores Daniel Thorpe, Mike Muha, and Steven Schuler combined to allow just two runs as the Saint Joseph's baseball team advanced to the championship game of the 2012 Liberty Bell Classic by topping Delaware, 3-2, on the Maguire Campus on Tuesday afternoon.
The Hawks, who reached the title game for the first time since 2003, will meet Penn at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, April 17. The Quakers defeated La Salle, 9-4, on Tuesday to set up the championship tilt at the home of the National League's Philadelphia Phillies.
Delaware (14-15) equalized in the top of the second, using three singles, including a two-out RBI hit by Ryan Hartley, to score Tyler Powell and tie the game.
The Hawks answered in the bottom of the third, posting a pair of runs to take the lead for good. Pater led off with a single and went to third on a single down the right field line by Lansing Veeder. Stefan Kancylarz hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Pater before Kevin Taylor singled in Veeder three batters later to extend the lead to 3-1.
The Blue Hens threatened in the top of the fifth, putting runners on second and third. Thorpe struck out Nick Ferdinand for the second out before being lifted for Muha, who fanned Jimmy Yezzo to end the inning.
Muha then struck out the side in the top of the sixth to preserve the two-run lead. Catcher Eddie Palmer came through in the top of the seventh, throwing out Brock Niggebrugge at second as the Blue Hens attempted a double steal that would have left runners on second and third with two out.
Schuler entered in the eighth and struck out Ferdinand before Yezzo cut the margin to one with a long home run to right. Schuler then bounced back to retire the final five hitters of the game for his second save of the season.
Muha earned the win to improve to 2-1 on the season, while Dan Gatto took the loss and fell to 2-2.
The Hawks last played in the Liberty Bell Classic championship in 2003, falling to Temple in the final title game held at Veterans Stadium. The championship game moved to Citizens Bank Park when it opened in 2004.
Saint Joseph's will make its third appearance (1999, 2003) in the title game in the 21-year history of the tournament. SJU has reached the semifinals five times since 2000; each time, the Hawks met Delaware in the second round.
The Hawks return to conference play on Thursday as they head out to Saint Louis for a three-game set. First pitch for the series opener is set for 7:00 p.m. Eastern at the Billiken Sports Center.