MERION STATION, Pa. – Down to its final out, the Saint Joseph’s baseball team rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a single by Matt Cuppari to stun Bryant, 5-4, securing a weekend sweep and extending its winning streak to four games on Sunday afternoon at Smithson Field.
The Hawks held a 3-2 lead heading into the ninth, but after two quick outs, Zach DeVincenzo allowed a single to Malik Daley to extend the game. Matt Morella came in from the bullpen, and after a walk to Cole Fabio put two on, a pair of wild pitches allowed pinch runner Bryan Hart to score and left the go-ahead run 90 feet away. Morella was able to strike out Nick Angelini, but the third strike got away and Fabio crossed the plate to put the Bulldogs on top, 4-3.
Between innings, the Bulldogs attempted what was declared to be an illegal substitution, resulting in a lengthy delay while the umpiring crew sorted out the situation. Ultimately, play was halted for nearly 10 minutes, and the Bulldogs played the remainder of the game under protest.
The delay seemed to affect Bryant pitcher Logan Lessard, as he walked Deon Stafford, Jr., to start the bottom of the ninth, but Lessard then induced a double play grounder from Charlie Concannon to clear the bases. Things picked up quickly for the Hawks, however, as Brian Lau singled for his third hit of the afternoon before Cal Jadacki reached on a fielder’s choice. Jadacki’s grounder was fielded by shortstop Jimmy Titus, who went for the force out at second. Lau reached the second base bag just ahead of Fabio and put the tying run in scoring position.
Dominic Cuoci then followed with a walk to load the bases for Cuppari. The freshman lofted a ball to center field that Angelini misread off the bat, allowing it to drop between three Bulldogs as Lau and Jadacki scored the tying and winning runs to set off a celebration on the field.
Hayden Seig notched his second win of the season after retiring the only batter he faced in the top of the ninth. Lessard was charged with the loss, falling to 0-3.
The wild finish overshadowed a strong performance from Lucas Rollins, who allowed two runs and scattered eight hits in seven and two-thirds innings in his first start since March 4. The lefthander issued just one walk while striking out two on the day. Chris Wright also received a no-decision for the Bulldogs, allowing two runs, one earned, on just two hits in four and a third innings. He allowed four walks and struck out five.
Bryant (3-17) had a prime opportunity to open the scoring in the top of the fourth as Mickey Gasper led off the frame with a double and stole third before Wright was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Gaby Cruz then popped out to short before Tyler Panno hit a comebacker to Rollins, who started a 1-6-3 double play to escape the inning unscathed.
Saint Joseph's (5-11) got on the board in the bottom of the inning after Lau singled and Jadacki doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. A wild pitch then led to a play at the plate, but Lau beat the tag from Cruz to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
The Hawks extended the lead in the fifth as Marc Giacalone reached on an error and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches before scoring on a single by Lau. Cuoci then led off the sixth with a ground-rule double to left center and came in to score on an error to make it a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs broke through in the top of the eighth as a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. A wild pitch and an infield single brought Bryant within a run and ended the afternoon for Rollins, but DeVincenzo came on and got a ground ball from Gaby Cruz to end the inning and prevent further damage, setting up the dramatic finish to the weekend series.
Saint Joseph’s will host a pair of games this week, as the Hawks take on Villanova in the Liberty Bell Classic quarterfinals on Tuesday before Maryland comes to town on Wednesday. Both games are scheduled for 3:00 p.m.