March 8, 2009
PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Saint Joseph's baseball team split its first two games in Palm Beach this weekend, defeating NYIT on Saturday, 7-2, before losing a heartbreaker, 8-7, to Penn State on Sunday.
In Saturday's game, Saint Joseph's (1-6) scored six runs in a first inning that saw the first four hitters of the game hit by a pitch as the Hawks would go on to win, 7-2. Freshman A.J. Holland earned his first career win, pitching 6.2 strong innings and giving up five hits and one unearned run while striking out two and walking none.
The Hawks got things started in a hurry as NYIT starter Frank Ryan hit the first four batters of the game. After Ben Wendle reached on an error and Mike Boyland walked, both driving in runs, Mike Plakis hit a sacrifice fly to center field to up the lead to 4-0. Phil Pursino followed with an RBI single to chase Ryan from the game and put SJU ahead by five. Another single from Joe Cook plated Boyland with the last run of the inning.
The Bears (1-6) would get one back in the bottom of the third after a double by George Carroll, who came around to score on an error by David Valesente.
SJU pushed the lead back to six in the fifth as Ryan McDonald singled and came around to score on a pair of wild pitches. NYIT scored a run in the bottom of the ninth after a pair of errors allowed Eric Cos to cross the plate.
McDonald was 4-for-4 in the win with four singles, two runs scored, and an RBI. Holland (1-1) recorded 16 of his 20 outs via the ground ball.
On Sunday afternoon, SJU jumped out to a 6-1 lead but could not hold it as Penn State came from behind to claim the victory, 8-7.
Penn State (5-5) scored in the top of the first inning on an RBI ground out. After the run scored, SJU starter Dominic Favazza settled down, allowing just four singles and no runs over the course of the next 4.2 innings.
The Hawks roared back in the bottom of the third with their second six-run inning in as many days. Evan Spano and Mike Blahusch led off the inning with singles and advanced on an error. Brett Tiagwad then loaded the bases with a bunt single for McDonald, who singled in Spano to tie the game. Valesente then put the Hawks on top with a sacrifice fly, scoring Blahusch.
With runners on the corners and one out, Matt Barnathan hit into a fielder's choice that allowed Tiagwad to score and put SJU ahead, 3-1. After Brian Hartsell was hit by a pitch, Chris Hildreth hit a two-run double to score both Barnathan and Hartsell. Cook then singled home Hildreth to close out the inning and give the Hawks a 6-1 lead.
The Nittany Lions clawed back into the game in the sixth as Jordan Steranka's two-run home run cut the SJU lead to 6-3. Penn State would tie the game in the top of the seventh as Mike Deese hit a two-run double and Cory Wine hit an RBI single, both coming with two outs.
PSU would go ahead in the top of the ninth as Wes Borden hit an RBI single off of freshman Ryan Kemp (0-1). Two batters later, Deese added an insurance run with an RBI single to give the Nittany Lions an 8-6 lead.
SJU would have one last gasp in the ninth as Blahusch led off with a double down the right field line. After a ground out, Blahusch advanced to third. McDonald then reached on an error by the third baseman that allowed Blahusch to score. Unfortunately for Saint Joseph's, the rally would come to an end two batters later on a ground out to short.
Blahusch finished the game with three hits and two runs scored, while McDonald continued his hot hitting with a pair of hits and a run batted in. Favazza went 6.1 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, striking out six and walking none.
Saint Joseph's will return to the diamond on Monday to face Pittsburgh. The game, the third of four contests the Hawks will play in Palm Beach, is set for noon.