April 10, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's bats came to life in a big way on Friday as the Hawks scored 20 runs in two games on their way to a doubleheader sweep of the first-place Temple Owls at La Salle's Hank DeVincent Field. SJU took game one by a score of 9-4 and used big sixth and seventh innings to power past Temple, 11-6, in the second game.
In the first game, the Hawks jumped all over Temple starter Ben White for seven runs in the first two innings while Randy Mower made them hold up for a 9-4 win.
Temple (13-17, 8-3 Atlantic 10) scored in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Obal. The Hawks answered right back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on a double by David Valesente and a single by Ryan McDonald.
Saint Joseph's (13-16-1, 7-4 Atlantic 10) tacked on five more runs in the second, chasing White from the game. After a leadoff double off the fence in right by Mike Coleman and a walk by Mike Plakis, Joe Cook laid down a bunt to move the runners up. A single by Valesente scored Coleman before a triple to the right field corner by Drew Smith cleared the bases and put the Hawks ahead by four. A single up the middle by Dewey Oriente brought home Smith before Oriente would come around to score himself on a groundout by Ben Wendle.
An RBI groundout by Obal and a Mark Ortega sacrifice fly in the top of the third kept Temple within striking distance at 7-3, but Mower settled down and retired 11 of the next 12 Owls he faced to help keep TU at bay.
Meanwhile, the Hawks tacked an insurance run on the board in the bottom half of the third, as Valesente notched another RBI single to extend the lead to 8-3. The teams would trade goose eggs until the seventh when Sean Barksdale hit a single through the left side to score Byron McKoy. SJU would get that run back in the bottom of the eighth, however, as Temple pitcher Jordan Cannon threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt, allowing Cook to score from first on an attempted steal and set the final margin at 9-4.
Mower (4-3) struggled at times but was solid in his eight innings of work, scattering nine hits and giving up four runs, striking out four and walking three. White (2-3) was shelled to the tune of seven runs, six earned, on seven hits in two innings. Cannon went the rest of the way, going six strong innings in relief and allowing just two runs on six hits while notching five strikeouts.
With the win, Mower moves into a tie for sixth place on the Saint Joseph's career wins list with 14. The record, held by Jed Johnson, is 19. Mower has now thrown 197.1 innings in his career, good for 10th all-time in the SJU annals.
In game two, a four-run sixth put the Hawks ahead and a three-run seventh gave them some breathing room as Saint Joseph's secured its fourth straight conference win with an 11-6 victory over TU.
SJU started early once again as Oriente singled up the middle to score Plakis and put the Hawks ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
Unfortunately for the Crimson and Gray, it would be the Cherry and the White that scored the next four runs as Temple scored one in the second and three in the third to take a 4-1 lead against starter Dominic Favazza.
Dan Moller, the starting pitcher for Temple, was on cruise control until the fourth inning, when Saint Joseph's used a little small ball to knot up the game. Oriente drew a leadoff walk and stole second base to start things off. After Valesente walked, McDonald attempted to sacrifice the runners over but instead laid down the perfect bunt down the third base line. By the time third baseman Tony Jusino could field the ball, the bases were loaded with Hawks. Phil Pursino then drew a walk to score Oriente before Cook was hit by a pitch to plate Valesente. Two batters later, another bases-loaded walk, this one to Coleman, brought home the tying run.
Temple went back ahead in the top of the fifth on a monstrous leadoff home run to left center by Barksdale, but Saint Joseph's would answer in the sixth.
With two outs and Pursino on first, Coleman ripped a single to left to put runners on first and second. An infield single by pinch hitter Matt Barnathan scored Pursino from second with the equalizer before the next hitter, Brett Tiagwad, was hit by a pitch. That packed the sacks for Oriente, who answered the call with a first-pitch bases-clearing double off the right field fence off of Matt Blackburn to put SJU on top, 8-5.
Barksdale refused to let the Hawks run away with the game, however, as he blasted his second home run of the game, another titanic shot to left center, in the top of the seventh to get the Owls within two.
That's as close as TU would come as Saint Joseph's hung a three-spot on the board in the seventh to cement the win. Mike Boyland hit a two-run double with the bases loaded to chase Blackburn before Tiagwad knocked in a run with a single three batters later, closing the scoring for the day.
Ben Wendle (1-0) earned the win for the Hawks as he went four innings in relief of Favazza. He gave up just one hit, the home run to Barksdale, and struck out three. He retired the last nine batters of the game, including two on called third strikes.
Moller took the loss to fall to 2-4. He gave up seven runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings, striking out four. Six walks and a hit batsman also spelled trouble for the freshman. Blackburn was credited with just a third of an inning but was charged with four runs.
At the plate, Oriente finished the twinbill 5-for-7 with five RBIs and a pair of runs scored. McDonald and Valesente were each 4-for-8, with a run scored and a run driven in for McDonald and three of each for Valesente, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Coleman was 3-for-6 with three runs scored as well.
The teams will look to conclude the series on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Hank DeVincent Field. The contest was pushed back from its original noon start due to the forecast of rain in the early morning.