MERION STATION, Pa. – The Saint Joseph’s baseball team kicked off its final home series of the season at Smithson Field on Friday afternoon, falling to first-place VCU, 9-3.  Matt Cuppari went 2-for-4 on the day and drove in all three runs for SJU.

The Rams took the lead in the top of the first, plating three runs thanks to three hits and an error.

VCU (34-16 overall, 14-5 Atlantic 10) would then add single runs in each of the next three innings to extend the lead to 6-0 after four.  Matt Kennedy came on in relief in the fourth and tossed two and a third shutout innings without allowing a hit to keep the Rams at bay.

Saint Joseph’s (18-25 overall, 10-9 Atlantic 10) finally broke through in the fifth as Liam Bendo led off the inning with a double and came around to score on a double by Cuppari.

The Hawks then got back within three in the seventh as Jake Artz led off with a single and Cuppari followed two batters later with his first home run of the season to make it a 6-3 game.

SJU would go on to bring the tying run to the plate in the eighth with two on and one out, but VCU shortstop Zac Ching turned a big double play for the Rams to keep the Hawks from getting any closer.

The visitors would then put the game effectively out of reach in the ninth, scoring three two-out runs to set the final margin.

Justin Sorokowski earned the win, tossing five innings and allowing one run on three hits to improve to 3-1 on the year.  Benjamin Dum notched his third save with two and two-thirds shutout innings of relief, while Jordan DiValerio took the loss for SJU, falling to 4-5 after allowing six runs, three of them earned, in three and two-thirds innings.

The teams will wrap up the series on Saturday with a doubleheader.  First pitch in the opener is set for noon at Smithson Field; the previously scheduled Alumni and Family Day, including the alumni softball game, will still begin at 11:00 a.m.  The Hawks will also honor departing seniors Charlie Concannon, Jake Meyers, and Brendan Roach between games.