MERION STATION, Pa. – For the second straight afternoon, the Saint Joseph’s baseball team used a late rally to topple its archrival, as the Hawks scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Wednesday to beat Villanova, 9-6, and Smithson Field.
Villanova (8-17) took an early lead with a three-spot in the top of the first. Max Beermann hit a ground-rule double to score the game's first run before a Kevin Jewitt single and a throwing error allowed a pair of runs to score.
Saint Joseph's (14-7) got one back in the home half of the inning as the Hawks loaded the bases with one out for Kevin Kratochwill, who drew a walk to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The teams traded goose eggs until the bottom of the seventh, when the Hawks clawed back to tie the game. Chris Hueth’s one-out single scored Brian Lau, and after a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Brian O'Keefe’s RBI groundout scored Peter Sitaras with the tying run.
The tie would be short-lived, however, as Villanova batted around in the top of the eighth. Emmanuel Morris’ two-out double plated two runs before Beermann was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to extend the Wildcat advantage to 6-3.
The tables turned just as quickly in the bottom of the frame, however, as the Hawks sent 10 batters to the plate. Tommy Cunningham led off the inning with his third single of the day before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Mike Muha reached via an error to put runners on the corners for Kratochwill, who singled to score Cunningham and cut the deficit to two.
Another wild pitch advanced runners to second and third for Spencer Judge, whose sacrifice fly brought home Muha and brought the Hawks within a run. Lau followed with an RBI single of his own to tie the game at 6-6.
A bunt single by Sitaras and a walk to O’Keefe two batters later loaded the bases for Collin Forgey. Forgey scored the go-ahead run in Tuesday’s win and came through once again, ripping a single up the middle to score Sitaras and pinch runner Nate Shank. O’Keefe then came in to score on a throwing error on a stolen base attempt to give the Hawks a three-run lead.
Lansing Veeder came in from the bullpen and tossed a perfect ninth to notch his second save of the season.
Ryan Kelly earned the win for the Hawks, improving to 1-1 with a third of an inning of relief. JB Kole was charged with six runs in an inning and a third to take the loss for Villanova, falling to 1-3.
Cunningham finished the day 3-for-5 with a run scored while Forgey and Kratochwill drove in two runs each to lead the Hawk offense. Sitaras scored twice, while he, Hueth, and Lau each added a pair of hits.
Saint Joseph’s takes its four-game winning streak on the road to conference foe VCU beginning of Friday. The Hawks and Rams will face off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday before a 3:00 p.m. start on Saturday. The series final is set for Sunday at 1:00 p.m.