March 11, 2009
LANTANA, Fla. - Adam Rivera earned the win in his first start of the season on Wednesday as the Saint Joseph's baseball team saw its offense explode in a 22-12 rout of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the final game of SJU's trip to the Palm Beach Challenge. David Valesente racked up five hits, tying the school record for hits in a game. Matt Barnathan made his presence felt as well, driving in six runs.
Saint Joseph's (2-8) got the bats going right away, scoring five in the first, one in the second, and two in the third. In the first, Ryan McDonald doubled in a run before scoring on a Valesente double. After Kevin Taylor was hit by a pitch, Mike Blahusch hit a three-run home run to give Rivera a 5-0 lead.
Valesente notched an RBI groundout in the second and after a two-run home run by Josh Street in the top of the third, a two-run double by Barnathan made it an 8-2 game.
SIU-Edwardsville (1-8) got one back in the fourth, scoring a single run on an error. The Hawks responded by plating six in the fifth. After an RBI single by the recently surging Mike Coleman, Barnathan tripled in a pair and then scored on a single by McDonald. Valesente doubled before Taylor and Blahusch hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to push the lead to 14-3.
The Cougars woke up in the middle innings, nabbing a pair of tallies in the sixth on a single and a fielder's choice before tagging the Hawks for seven unearned runs in the top of the seventh inning, closing to with two at 14-12 at stretch time.
The Hawks would not be denied, however, padding the lead with a six-spot in the bottom half of the frame. With two outs and runners on first and second, Mike Plakis and Joe Cook drew back to back walks; Cook's forced in Valesente with the first run of the inning. Pinch hitter Drew Smith then cleared the bases with a double before Barnathan hit a two-run single to give the Hawks a 20-12 lead.
Dewey Oriente hit a two-run home run in his only at bat of the game in the bottom of the eighth to set the final margin.
On the mound, Rivera (1-1) went five strong, giving up just four hits and three runs, two earned. He struck out six while walking none. SIUE's Blaise Haxel had his worst outing of the season, falling to 0-1 after giving up eight runs in just 2.2 innings.
Offensively, the Hawks had a banner day, notching team highs in runs scored and hits for the season. The 22 runs are the most SJU has scored in a game since setting a school record of 25 on May 13, 2001 against Rhode Island. Valesente's five hits tie the Saint Joseph's record; he is the fourth player to reach that plateau and the first since Mike DeVincentis on March 24, 2000 against Long Island. He also had three doubles on Wednesday, tying another SJU mark that was last reached on April 1, 2000 by Pace Bradshaw in a game against La Salle. Barnathan's six RBI were also a season high for SJU.
The Hawks will not take too much time to celebrate the win, however, as they open their home schedule on Friday, March 13 with a 3;00 p.m. contest against Saint Peter's at Latshaw-McCarthy Field. The last time the teams met, on March 16, 2008, Randy Mower, Dominic Favazza, and Chris Prescott combined for a seven-inning no-hitter as SJU won, 11-0.