PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – The Saint Joseph’s baseball team opened its trip to Florida on Friday afternoon, falling to Kansas by a 7-5 score. Four Hawks rapped out two hits apiece, while Dominic Cuoci led the way offensively, driving in three runs.
Kansas (9-3) got on the board right away in the bottom of the first as Rudy Karre singled and eventually came around to score on a two-out single by Jaxx Groshans. The Jayhawks threatened again in the second, but Jordan DiValerio fanned Casey Burnham on a called third strike with a runner on third to end the inning.
Saint Joseph’s (2-7) went ahead in the sixth. Chris Skermo led off the frame with a double before a Brendan Hueth single moved him to third, with Hueth moving up to second on the throw. James McConnon followed with a single that plated Skermo with the tying run.
Three batters later, Cuoci ripped a pitch from KU’s Ryan Zeferjahn down the left field line to score both Hueth and McConnon and give the Hawks a 3-1 lead.
KU got one back in the bottom of the inning on a double by Skyler Messinger, but the real damage came in the bottom of the seventh as Groshans hit a two-out grand slam before a Brett Vosik double and a single by Messinger tacked on another run. All told, the Jayhawks scored five in the inning to take a 7-3 lead.
The Hawks got back into the game in the eighth, as Hueth led off with a single and Charlie Concannon reached on an error before back-to-back singles by Cuoci and Nate Thomas pulled SJU to within a pair at 7-5.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, Kansas closer Jonah Ulane came on and retired the side in order for his fifth save of the season. He preserved the win for Zeferjahn, who improved to 3-0 after tossing seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits while striking out nine. Kyle Smith took the loss for SJU after being charged with two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
DiValerio had a solid start on the mound for the Hawks, allowing a run on three hits while walking one and striking out nine in five innings.
Saint Joseph’s returns to the diamond on Saturday morning when the Hawks are scheduled to take on Ball State at 10:00 a.m.