PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – A late rally ultimately came up short as the Saint Joseph’s baseball team fell to Ball State, 7-5, in a Snowbird Classic game at North Charlotte Regional Park on Saturday.

Ball State (7-7) jumped out to an early lead with four runs in the top of the second.  Four hits and an error, led by a two-run single by William Baker and a two-run triple from Aaron Simpson, gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.

The Hawks got one back in the bottom of the inning as Dominic Cuoci led off with a single, before Andrew Cossetti singled two batters later.  Kadar Namey and Matt Cuppari were then hit by pitches in consecutive plate appearances to force home a run and get the Hawks on the board.

Jake Artz led off the third inning for Saint Joseph’s (2-8) with a walk and advanced to second on a groundout.  Cuoci then followed with a single to drive in the run and make it a 4-2 game.

A two-out error in the sixth aided the Cardinals in extending their lead to three, but Brendan Hueth beat out an infield single that scored Nate Thomas with two outs in the bottom of the frame to make it 5-3.

It would remain a two-run game until Ball State added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth via two-out hits from Mack Murphy and Ross Messina.

The Hawks mounted a comeback attempt in the bottom half of the ninth as Artz worked a one-out walk and scored on a double by Cuoci two batters later.  Thomas followed with a single to bring home Cuoci, but that would be it for the Crimson and Gray.

Andre Orselli earned the win in relief, allowing one run on no hits and two walks in an inning and two-thirds.  Kyle Nicolas tossed 3.1 innings and allowed two runs to notch his fourth save of the season.

Starter Cole Stetzar took the loss for SJU, charged with four runs in four innings.  Chayce McDermott got the nod for Ball State but didn’t figure into the decision, allowing two runs on four hits in four innings of work.

The Hawks will next meet Georgetown at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday in Port Charlotte.

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