FAIRFAX, Va. – Tommy Cunningham had three hits and two runs batted in while Daniel Thorpe became the first Saint Joseph’s pitcher to record nine wins in a season as the Hawk baseball team took the series opener at George Mason, 5-3, on Friday afternoon at Spuhler Field.
Saint Joseph’s (31-11 overall, 16-5 Atlantic 10) scored in the first inning for the 10th time in its last 12 games, taking a 2-0 lead. With one out, Brian O'Keefe beat out an infield single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tommy Cunningham followed with a double, scoring O’Keefe, before Mike Muha singled home Cunningham for the two-run advantage.
The Hawks doubled the lead in the top of the second. Chris Hueth kicked off a stretch of four consecutive singles for the SJU offense; after O’Keefe’s hit put runners on first and second with one out, Collin Forgey singled home Hueth and Cunningham brought in O’Keefe to stretch the advantage to 4-0.
George Mason (27-18 overall, 13-7 Atlantic 10) answered in the bottom of the frame. Josh Leemhuis led off the inning with a double and came in to score on a single by Tucker Tobin. Luke Willis added a sacrifice fly before Brandon Gum rapped an RBI single to make it a 4-3 game.
SJU added one in the fourth as Forgey came in from second on a two-out throwing error to push the lead to 5-3.
The Patriots threatened in the sixth, putting runners on the corners with two outs, but Lansing Veeder came on in relief of Thorpe and induced a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
Veeder retired all seven hitters he faced, and Steven Schuler tossed a perfect ninth for his sixth save of the season.
Thorpe allowed three runs on seven hits, striking out six in five and two-thirds innings to improve to 9-0. He is the first Hawk to reach the nine-win plateau, breaking the previous single-season record of eight. Anthony Montefusco took the loss for George Mason, allowing five runs, four earned, on 11 hits and striking out six in four innings.
Cunningham led the way offensively for SJU, notching three hits and a pair of RBI. O’Keefe and Forgey chipped in with a pair of hits apiece, while O’Keefe added two runs scored as well.
The Hawks and Patriots will play second game of the three-game set on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2:00 p.m. at Spuhler Field.