AMHERST, Mass. – The Saint Joseph’s baseball team wrapped up its 2019 season on Saturday afternoon with a pair of wins over UMass.
UMass (18-27 overall, 8-14 Atlantic 10) got on the board first, scoring twice in the bottom half of the second on a single by Luke Oliphant.
The Hawks went ahead in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Massachusetts starter Sean Harney uncorked a wild pitch that brought home Brendan Hueth with the Hawks’ first run of the game; Cuoci then followed with a single to score Andrew Cossetti and draw SJU level. The next batter was Jake Artz, and he added an RBI single of his own to score Thomas and put the Hawks ahead.
Saint Joseph’s (21-28 overall, 13-11 Atlantic 10) extended the lead with three more in the sixth. Hueth drew a one-out walk, stole second, and then came in on a single by James McConnon. Cossetti followed with an RBI double before Thomas hit an RBI single to push the lead to 6-2.
Cuoci went deep for the first time on the afternoon in the eighth; after a one-out single by Thomas, Cuoci hit his fifth home run of the season to extend the advantage to 8-2.
The hosts would get a pair in the ninth on RBI singles by Matt Hosman and Nolan Kessinger to set the final margin.
Ryan Devine was outstanding in his final appearance of the season, allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings to earn the win; he improved to 3-2. Harney fell to 3-5 after allowing three runs on three hits in four and a third innings.
In the season finale for both clubs, the Hawks would again put up eight runs, this time in an 8-5 victory.
UMass took the early lead once again as Thomas Pipolo notched an RBI groundout in the bottom of the second.
The Hawks answered in the top half of the fourth as Cuoci hit his second home run of the day, a solo shot, to tie it at 1-1.
The Minutemen would tie it in the bottom of the inning as Ryan Lever singled, advanced to second on an error, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch.
UMass scored twice more in the bottom of the fifth, and the Hawks put together just one hit over the next two innings to trail by two, 4-2, entering the top of the eighth.
From that point, it was all about the Crimson and Gray.
Skermo led off the inning with a single to right before Hueth immediately followed with a single to left. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch to set up runners on second and third for Artz, who drove in both Skermo and Hueth on a single to left-center and advanced to second on the throw home to even out the score, 4-4.
Cossetti then came up and, on the first pitch he saw, hit a two-run blast over the left field fence to give the Hawks a 6-4 advantage.
Still with no outs, the Hawks would load the bases but were unable to get another run across through the remainder of the eighth.
UMass earned a run back in the bottom half of the eighth, as Eddy Hart hit a leadoff double and eventually scored on two-out, RBI single by Alec Norton to close the Minutemen to within one, 6-5.
In the top of the ninth, Skermo once again led off with a single, this time to left-center, and both Artz (single through the left side) and Cossetti (hit by pitch) reached base safely to load them up.
Following an SJU strikeout, Cuoci was hit by a pitch to allow Skermo to score, and Liam Bendo then walked to score Artz as the Hawks added two more runs to own a three-run edge, 8-5, heading into their final three defensive outs.
After allowing a leadoff walk, Cole Stetzar settled in and forced a fly out and back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
Artz finished the game 3-4 with a walk, two runs scored, and three RBI while Skermo and Hueth added three hits apiece. Cossetti also went for two hits and two RBI.
SJU's pitching staff scattered a combined six hits over the course of the game. Jake Meyers went three innings in the start, allowing just one run on four hits, and Stetzar closed the final four innings with two hits and just one run allowed against 15 batters faced.
With their win in the opener, the Hawks clinched their ninth consecutive 20-win season; SJU had only reached 20 victories in a season nine times in total prior to 2011. The Hawks also finished at .500 or better in the Atlantic 10 for the sixth time in the past eight seasons.