May 11, 2012
MERION STATION, Pa. - Greg Kumpel hit a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the 11th inning to send the home fans happy as the Saint Joseph's baseball team beat La Salle, 4-2, at Smithson Field on Friday afternoon. Kevin Taylor added a home run of his own to tie the game in the seventh inning.
The win gave the Hawks their 12th consecutive Atlantic 10 series-opening win and guarantees SJU a winning record in conference play for the first time since 1984. The Hawks also extended their winning streak over La Salle to eight games and improved their Big 5 record over the past two seasons to 9-1.
La Salle (18-29 overall, 5-14 Atlantic 10) took an early lead as Brendan Norton lofted a one-out home run to right to put the Explorers on top, 1-0.
Norton struck again in the sixth, leading off the frame with a double and coming around to score on a sacrifice fly by Adam Kammler to double the Explorer lead to 2-0.
Saint Joseph's (22-26 overall, 12-6 Atlantic 10) finally broke through in the bottom half of the sixth as Anthony Cirillo drew a one-out walk and Ryan Pater followed with a triple down the right field line to cut the deficit to one.
Taylor then led off the seventh with his fourth home run of the season to right center to temporarily take over the team lead and tie the game at two apiece. Brian O'Keefe followed with an infield single and made it to second with one out, but La Salle starter Eric Van Wyk got out of the inning with a pair of groundballs to leave the game even.
In the bottom of the 10th, Lansing Veeder hit a two-out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Van Wyk, but Mike McLeod came on and induced a groundout from Cirillo to send the game to the 11th.
Pater led off the bottom of the 11th with a walk but was erased on a fielder's choice by Kevin Kratochwill. Kumpel then strode to the plate and ripped McLeod's 3-1 offering over the fence in left to give the Hawks the victory.
Steven Schuler pitched two-thirds of an inning and allowed one hit to earn the win and improve to 5-1 on the year. McLeod suffered his first defeat, falling to 3-1 after allowing two runs on one hit and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.
Mullen and Van Wyk engaged in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel for most of the afternoon. Mullen went eight and a third, allowing five hits and two runs, one earned, with five strikeouts and no walks. Van Wyk was outstanding as well, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning and pitching into the 10th. He finished with two runs allowed on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in nine and two-thirds innings.
At the plate, Norton was 3-for-5 and scored both Explorer runs, while six different Hawks recorded a hit and four different players scored runs in the win.
Friday was Senior Day on Hawk Hill as the Saint Joseph's baseball program honored seniors Taylor, Mike Brown, Drew Stoll, and Brett Tiagwad and graduate student Alex Pracher for their contributions to the program.
Pracher is scheduled to take the mound against La Salle's Ryan Donahue on Saturday afternoon in the second game of the series. First pitch at Smithson Field is set for noon.