April 17, 2012
PHILADELPHIA - Every youngster that ever puts on a baseball glove dreams of playing in a big-league ballpark and getting the championship-winning hit for the hometown team.
On Tuesday night, the members of the Saint Joseph's baseball team lived out that dream, taking the field at Citizens Bank Park and bringing a championship home to Hawk Hill.
Greg Kumpel's two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning gave the Hawks the lead and Anthony Cirillo drove in three critical runs as Saint Joseph's topped Penn, 6-3, in the championship game of the 21st annual Liberty Bell Classic at Citizens Bank Park. The victory is the first for SJU in three title game appearances.
Playing for the first time at the current home of the Philadelphia Phillies, the Hawks ran into an early jam as Penn (15-17) loaded the bases with two outs, but Daniel Thorpe struck out Derek Vigoa to escape the inning without allowing a run.
Saint Joseph's (16-21) broke through in the third inning, taking the lead on Kumpel's home run. Ryan Pater drew a one out walk and stole second before advancing to third on a groundout by Brett Tiagwad. That brought up Kumpel, who rocketed a pitch from Patrick Brennan into the seats in left field to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
The Quakers answered in the top of the fourth, loading up the bases with two outs for Kyle Toomey, who reached on an error that allowed Austin Bossart to score and cut the Hawk lead to 2-1. Mike Muha then relieved Thorpe and induced a fly ball from Brandon Engelhardt on his first pitch to end the inning.
The Hawks posted a three-spot in the bottom half of the frame to widen the gap. With two outs, Eddie Palmer was hit by a pitch and advanced to second when Mike Brown drew a walk. Cirillo then stepped to the plate and ripped a John Beasley pitch into the gap in left center to plate Palmer and Brown and extend the lead to 4-1.
Cirillo would score two batters later when Penn's Sam Horn uncorked a wild pitch to give the Hawks a 5-1 advantage.
The Quakers would cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth as Engelhardt grounded out to bring home Mitch Montaldo while Kyle Toomey scored when Ryan Deitrich was caught in a rundown after getting picked off of first base.
Brian O'Keefe led off the bottom half of the sixth for the Hawks and reached second on a dropped fly ball. O'Keefe then advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring an insurance run on an infield single by Cirillo.
Steven Schuler retired six of seven batters to get through the seventh and eighth innings with the lead intact. Kevin Burum then came on in the ninth and notched his third save, inducing a grounder to first by Bossart to end the ballgame.
Thorpe earned the win, tossing three and two-thirds innings and allowing one unearned run on four hits. He improves to 2-1 on the season, while Brennan fell to 0-1 with the loss.
Cirillo finished the night 2-for-3 with a run scored and three RBI, while Kumpel was 1-for-2 with a run scored and two driven in. He also reached via a walk in the first inning and was hit by a pitch in the sixth.
After the game, the Hawks were awarded the Liberty Bell Classic championship trophy, and each member of the squad received a gift to commemorate the victory. Phillies President and CEO David Montgomery was on hand to make the presentation.
Saint Joseph's will now turn its attention back to Atlantic 10 play as the Hawks head to Charlotte for a three-game series. First pitch for Friday's series opener is set for 6:00 p.m.