May 2, 2009
CINCINNATI, Ohio - A change in scheduling did not result in a change of fortune for the Saint Joseph's baseball team as the Hawks dropped both ends of an impromptu doubleheader at Xavier on Saturday afternoon. The teams finished the series today because of the expectation of poor weather. Brian Hartsell had a strong day for SJU, hitting a home run in each game.
In the losses, both Mike Coleman and Mike Blahusch tied the SJU single-season hit by pitch record. Blahusch was hit once in each game to reach the mark of 12, while Coleman was plunked twice in the nightcap to become the fourth Hawk to be hit by a dozen pitches in a season. Blahusch extended his career record to 36. Coleman has been hit 22 times in his two-year career.
In the first game, Saint Joseph's (14-26-1, 7-13 Atlantic 10) once again took a lead into the eighth inning but could not hold on as six runs in their final at bat gave XU the 7-5 win. Randy Mower pitched into the eighth in a nice recovery after being lifted in the fourth inning his last time out.
Things remained quiet until the sixth when David Valesente hit the first pitch of the inning over the left field wall to double the lead. After a walk to Oriente, Hartsell hit his first home run of the season to double the lead a second time, to 4-0.
Xavier (27-17, 13-8 Atlantic 10) got one back in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double by Ben Thomas, but SJU restored the four-run advantage in the seventh when Oriente went deep with a solo shot to center.
The eighth has been an inning of horrors for Saint Joseph's this season, and disaster struck once again in the penultimate frame as the Musketeers posted a six-spot to take the lead. Mower gave up a pair of singles to start the inning before an error by Blahusch loaded the bases. A single up the middle by Thomas scored a run and cut the lead to 5-2. Mower was replaced by Chris Hildreth (1-1), who issued a walk to Jordan Conley and allowed a single to Bobby Freking to bring XU back to within a run before Matt Barnathan came on to replace him. Sean Farrell hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at five and advance Conley to third. After a fielder's choice and a walk re-loaded the bases, Billy O'Conner drew a walk to give Xavier its first lead of the day. Ben Wendle came on and issued a free pass to Drew Schmidt to bring in another run before a fly ball ended the inning.
Conley moved to the mound and sent the Hawks down in order in the ninth for his eighth save of the season, preserving the win for reliever Joe Kohler, who improved to 3-1.
In game two, Saint Joseph's took another early lead but allowed Xavier to score in each of the first four innings as the Musketeers earned the doubleheader and series sweep with the 8-6 triumph.
The Hawks loaded the bases with nobody out in the first against Thomas, who started the game for XU. Oriente laced a single to left to plate a run before an infield single from Hartsell put the Hawks on top, 2-0. Thomas then got out of the jam by recording three straight strikeouts.
Xavier scored in the bottom half as Thomas helped himself out with a two-out RBI single. A throwing error by catcher Evan Spano on a stolen base attempt allowed John McCambridge to score an unearned run with two outs in the second to tie the game at two.
Hartsell hit his second home run of the day in the third to put the Hawks back on top, 3-2, but the lead would be short-lived as the Musketeers touched up SJU starter A.J. Holland (2-4) for three in the third to go ahead for good. An RBI double by Conley and a two-run double by Freking put XU in the lead, 5-3. Xavier would add to that in the fourth on a double by Adam Pasono and a single by O'Conner, taking a 7-3 lead into the sixth.
Saint Joseph's loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth before Zac Richard came on to relieve Thomas. Valesente drove in a run with a fielder's choice before Oriente brought home another one with a single, cutting the deficit to two.
A groundout by Mike Plakis in the top of the seventh scored Ryan McDonald to get the Hawks back within one, but a sacrifice fly from Thomas in the bottom of the inning restored the two-run margin at 8-6.
Conley came on once again in the ninth, looking for his third save in as many games. He ran into trouble right away as he walked McDonald and hit pinch hitter Drew Smith. A strikeout by Blahusch and a groundout by Plakis left runners on second and third for Coleman, who was hit with a 1-0 pitch to load the bases. Matt Barnathan came to the plate as a pinch hitter, but Conley retired him on strikes to end the ballgame.
Thomas got the win to improve to 2-1. Conley's second save of the day was his ninth of the season.
Saint Joseph's will not play again until Friday, when the Hawks begin a three-game set at Charlotte. First pitch for Friday's game is set for 6:00 p.m.