March 21, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. - David Valesente hit his first two home runs of the season on Friday and drove in a team-high five runs as the Saint Joseph's baseball team split a doubleheader with the George Washington Colonials at Barcroft Park. GW took game one, 12-7, while the Hawks came out on top in the nightcap, 10-8. The twinbill marked the beginning of Atlantic 10 competition for both squads.
George Washington (9-9, 1-1 Atlantic 10) scored three runs in the bottom of the first and two in the bottom of the second on its way to a 12-7 win in the first game. Hawk starter Randy Mower (2-2) struggled after pitching well in his last four starts, working three-and-two-thirds innings and giving up nine runs and 11 hits.
The Colonials banged out five hits, all of them singles, to plate their three runs in the first. Two more singles and an RBI double down the right field line pushed the lead to 5-0 after two.
Saint Joseph's (8-11, 1-1 Atlantic 10) woke up in the third, as three runs cut the deficit to 5-3. Matt Barnathan led off the inning, reaching first on a dropped third strike. Valesente followed with his first home run of the day to left field. With one out, senior Jeremy Jakubowski, in his return to his customary center field position after his recovery from an arm injury, singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore Joe Cook slapped a single up the middle to plate Jakubowski with the third run of the inning.
SJU tied the game up in the fourth as Ben Wendle was hit by a pitch and Brian Hartsell drew a walk to put two on with nobody out. Barnathan sacrificed the runners over, setting Valesente up for an RBI groundout. Hartsell then stole home to knot the score at five apiece.
The tie would be short-lived, however, as the Colonials scored four runs in the bottom of the frame. Back-to-back bases-loaded walks and an infield single with an error put George Washington ahead for good and chased Mower from the game.
SJU tried to claw back into the game in the top of the fifth by scoring twice. A bases-loaded walk by Barnathan and a wild pitch made the score 9-7, but SJU would not get any closer as GW added three more RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth to set the final score at 12-7.
In the second game, Justin Trudell (1-4) was credited with his first victory of the season and Chris Prescott earned his first save of 2008 as the Hawks jumped out to an 8-2 lead and held on for a 10-8 victory.
Jakubowski led off the game with a walk and promptly stole second base. A single by Cook sent the senior centerfielder to third, and he scored when Drew Smith grounded into a double play.
GW tied it up in the bottom of the first on a pair of one-out singles, but SJU took a 4-1 lead in the second. Mike Boyland and Ryan McDonald reached on back-to-back errors, and a third error on a failed pickoff attempt left runners at second and third with nobody out. An RBI groundout by Barnathan put the Hawks ahead 2-1. Valesente then blasted his second longball of the afternoon to score McDonald and put the Hawks up three.
A home run for George Washington cut the lead to 4-2 after two, but once again Saint Joseph's would answer with a two-spot in the third. Cook led off with a double and came around to score on a single by Smith. Singles by Dewey Oriente and Boyland loaded the bases and McDonald drove Smith in with a groundout to give the Hawks a 6-2 lead.
The teams took the fourth inning off from scoring before the offenses came back in the fifth. SJU went up 8-2 as Oriente led off with a double and was immediately followed to the plate by Boyland, who smashed a home run to center field.
The Colonials began to scrape their way back into the game with a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. A fielder's choice and a throwing error scored two runs in the fifth, while Will Cooper knocked in two runs with a single in the sixth to close the gap to 8-6. An RBI groundout by Charlie Kruer made it a one-run game after seven.
The Hawks benefited from a clutch hit by Drew Smith to gain some breathing room in the eighth. Ken Pustizzi led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Tim Smith. Smith was safe on the play due to a fielding error, and then stole second to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Cook was hit by a pitch to bring Drew Smith to the plate with the sacks juiced. He laced a double to right center, scoring two, to give SJU a 10-7 lead.
GW got one back in the bottom of the inning on a fielder's choice, but Prescott retired the side in order in the ninth to preserve the victory for the Hawks.
The teams will play the rubber match in the three-game series on Saturday afternoon. The game, scheduled for 1:05 p.m., will be played at the brand-new Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The game will be the first event held in the stadium, the new home of Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals. The event is privately ticketed and is not open to the public.