MERION STATION, Pa. – Three home runs and nine strong innings on the mound led the Saint Joseph’s baseball team past Bryant, 4-1, at Smithson Field on Saturday afternoon.  Brian Lau, Dominic Cuoci, and Deon Stafford, Jr., went deep for the Hawks, while Pat Vanderslice and Justin Aungst combined to hold the Bulldogs to just five hits on the day.

It was déjà vu all over again for Stafford in the bottom of the first inning as he hit a one-out solo home run for the second day in a row to give the Hawks an early 1-0 edge.

Vanderslice retired the first seven hitters of the game, but Bryant (3-15) threatened in the top of the third, putting runners on second and third with one out.  However, Vanderslice struck out Cole Fabio before inducing a fly ball from Tyler Panno to end the threat.

Saint Joseph’s (4-11) extended the lead in the bottom of the fourth, as Lau led off with a single and Cuoci hit one off the yellow line at the top of the right field fence for his third home run of the season.

The Bulldogs got on the board in the sixth, as Vanderslice issued a pair of walks to start the frame before ceding the ball to Aungst.  A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third before a single by Chris Wright scored Nick Angelini to make it 3-1.  Mickey Gasper attempted to score from second on the play, but Peter Sitaras fired a strike into the plate to cut down the run.

Lau then started the home half of the sixth with his team-leading fourth home run of the season to restore the three-run margin.

After Wright’s run-scoring single, Aungst retired the next nine hitters he faced before hitting Gaby Cruz with a pitch with two down in the ninth.  Pinch hitter Nolan Hayward stepped to the plate and sent the first pitch out to right center, but Charlie Concannon camped under it to make the catch and end the game.

Vanderslice improved to 2-2 on the year, allowing just the one run on four hits and three walks while striking out four in five-plus innings of work.  Aungst allowed just two base runners in four innings, fanning four, to earn his first save of the season.  James Karinchak allowed a run on two hits in two innings to take the loss and fall to 1-1.

Stafford and Lau reached base three times apiece on Saturday, while Cal Jadacki drew an eighth-inning walk and has now reached base in all 15 games this season.

The teams will play the series finale at Smithson Field on Sunday.  First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.