MERION STATION, Pa. – Down to its final three outs, the Saint Joseph’s baseball team engineered a three-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning before a Jake Artz sacrifice fly in the 10th gave the Hawks a 6-5 victory over La Salle at Smithson Field on Saturday afternoon.
The win clinched the weekend series for the Hawks; Saint Joseph’s has now won three of its four Atlantic 10 series this season.
With the Hawks trailing 5-2 entering the ninth, La Salle closer Connor Hinchcliffe retired Liam Bendo on a line drive before walking Artz, Brian Markoski, and pinch hitter Langston Livingston in succession. Brendan Hueth then came to the plate and hit a fly ball deep to center to bring home Artz and move Markoski to third with two down.
A wild pitch then moved Livingston to second, where he was replaced by pinch runner Tim Johnson. James McConnon worked a walk of his own to re-load the bases for Andrew Cossetti, who shrugged off a hitless series to rip a single to left; Markoski scored easily and Johnson beat the throw from Nick O’Day to tie the game at 5-5.
Saint Joseph’s (14-20 overall, 7-5 Atlantic 10) nearly won it in the ninth as Nate Thomas hit a sinking liner to right, but Ben Faso made a diving catch to keep things tied and send the game to extra frames.
After Ryan Devine retired the Explorers in the top of the 10th, Dominic Cuoci led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk. Bendo then laid down a bunt that pitcher Chuck Kelley fielded but threw away, allowing Cuoci to reach third with nobody out.
Artz followed with a fly ball to right; Faso’s throw was not in time, and Cuoci crossed the plate with the winning run.
Devine got the win, moving to 1-1 on the season, after retiring six of the seven hitters he faced and striking out three in two shutout innings. Kelley took the loss, falling to 0-2 after allowing one unearned run in a third of an inning.
Neither starter figured into the decision, as Hayden Seig allowed a pair of unearned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out five in two and two-thirds innings for SJU, while La Salle’s Colin Kennedy allowed two runs on four hits in five innings of work.
La Salle (20-20 overall, 2-10 Atlantic 10) scored first for the third consecutive game, as Jack Cucinotta was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Ross Mulhall beat out an infield single to give the visitors a 2-0 lead in the third.
The Hawks answered right away as Artz and Markoski started the bottom of the inning with consecutive singles before Chris Skermo hit a single of his own to plate Artz and cut the deficit in half. A passed ball left runners on second and third for McConnon, whose RBI groundout scored Markoski to tie the game.
The teams traded zeroes until the sixth, when the Explorers took the lead. Kevin McGowan put La Salle ahead with an RBI single that scored Peyton Sorrels before Tatem Levins singled home McGowan and Tommy Toal to make it a 5-2 game.
SJU had chances in the next three innings, putting runners on base in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, before breaking through to tie the game in the ninth and win it in the 10th.
The Hawks return to action on Tuesday night when they visit Rider. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, New Jersey.