March 22, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - Trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth, the Saint Joseph's baseball team manufactured a pair of runs to come from behind for the third day in a row and defeat La Salle, 4-3, at Hank DeVincent Field on Sunday. The win secured a three-game sweep for the Hawks and gives them their best start in conference play in nine years.
SJU starter Randy Mower went eight and a third, giving up three runs on 10 hits. He struck out just two Explorers, but did not issue a walk. He earned the win to improve to 2-2 on the year, while Cody Weiss fell to 1-3 for La Salle. Ben Wendle recorded the final two outs for the Crimson and Gray, earning his first career save.
La Salle (8-9, 0-3 Atlantic 10) took an early lead when starting pitcher T.J. Chism hit a two-run home run to put the Explorers on top, 2-0.
Saint Joseph's (7-10-1, 3-0 Atlantic 10) tied things up in the top of the third after Phil Pursino and Mike Coleman led the frame off with a pair of walks. Joe Cook laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with one out for Ryan McDonald, who brought home Pursino with an RBI groundout. David Valesente then ripped a double down the left field line to bring around Coleman and tie the game, 2-2.
Chris Umstead led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to give La Salle a 3-2 lead that they would hold until the ninth inning.
With one out in the top of the ninth and runners on first and second, Cook drew a walk to fill the sacks with Hawks. McDonald hit a ground ball to first baseman Jon Gyles, who attempted to start a game-ending double play. Cook was forced out at second, but Brian Meagher's throw back to first was off line, allowing Coleman to follow pinch hitter Mike Plakis across the plate with the go-ahead runs.
In the bottom of the inning, Mower allowed a single to Umstead and after a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second, he was lifted in favor of Wendle. The senior induced a pop up and a ground ball to shut the door on La Salle and finish off the sweep.
The sweep is the first three-game whitewash of an Atlantic 10 opponent for Saint Joseph's since 2002, when the Hawks beat Fordham three straight. The 3-0 start in conference play is the best start for SJU since 2000, when, incidentally, the Hawks swept La Salle to start the conference season.
The Hawks will compete in the Liberty Bell Classic on Tuesday afternoon, hosting the Lafayette Leopards at Latshaw-McCarthy Field. Game time is set for 3:00 p.m.