ST. LOUIS – Freshman Tyler Pallante answered the bell on Thursday night, earning his first collegiate victory in style as Saint Joseph’s topped Richmond, 12-2, to stay alive in the 2014 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship. Pallante allowed two runs on eight hits in a career-high seven and two-thirds innings, while Brian O'Keefe had four hits and four runs scored to lead the offense.
Saint Joseph’s (35-15) started things off right away, scoring three times in the first inning for the second time in three games. Chris Hueth reached on an error to start the game and advanced to third on a single by O’Keefe. Collin Forgey was then hit by a pitch to load the bases before a wild pitch by UR’s Ryan Cook brought Hueth home with the game’s first run.
Tommy Cunningham followed with a single to score O’Keefe, and a misplay by right fielder Nick Poulos allowed Forgey to come around on the play and make it 3-0.
After a single by Hueth and a walk to O’Keefe, Forgey hit a three-run home run to left center to double the lead to 6-0 in the second.
Forgey added an RBI single in the sixth, scoring Hueth to extend the lead to 7-0. Mike Muha then reached on an error with the bases loaded that scored O’Keefe and pushed the edge to eight.
Richmond (24-28-1) got two back in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Poulos that cut the margin to 8-2.
The Hawks got one back in the top of the eighth as O’Keefe led off with a single and came in to score on three wild pitches by Richmond’s Andrew Blum.
SJU added three more in the ninth to salt away the win. Stefan Kancylarz led off with a single and Taylor Boyd was hit by a pitch to give the Hawks runners on first and second with one out. Tim Craig hit into a fielder’s choice, but third baseman Matt Dacey dropped the throw and Kancylarz came in to score and bring the lead back to eight.
After Hueth was hit by a pitch to load the bases, O’Keefe singled in a run with his fourth hit of the night and Forgey grounded out for his fifth RBI to close out the scoring.
Pallante kept the Spiders off balance throughout the game, shutting out the UR lineup through the first six innings before allowing a pair of two-out runs in the seventh. He improved to 1-2 on the year, while Cook was charged with six runs in two innings to fall to 4-2.
Saint Joseph’s advances to another elimination game on Friday afternoon at the Billiken Sports Center. The Hawks will take on Saint Louis at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, with the winner moving on to play the loser of Friday’s game between George Mason and VCU.