NORFOLK, Va. – The Saint Joseph’s baseball team fell to Kentucky, 16-9, in the opener of the Old Dominion Tournament at the Bud Metheny Complex on Friday afternoon. Junior Dominic Cuoci hit two home runs and drove in four runs to lead the Hawk offense.
Saint Joseph's (0-4) kicked off the slugfest with two outs in the top of the second. Brian Lau, Matt Maul, and Taylor Boyd loaded the bases on three consecutive singles to bring up Peter Sitaras, who ripped the first pitch he saw over the wall in right to give the Hawks a 4-0 lead.
Cuoci followed with a solo shot to center with two outs in the third to extend margin to five.
Kentucky (1-4) got two back in the home half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Zach Reks and a groundout by Riley Mahan before exploding for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Wildcats sent 12 men to the plate, using six hits and three walks to take a 9-5 lead.
The Hawks got back to level pegging in the fifth, however, as Deon Stafford, Jr., led off with a single and Cal Jadacki followed with a double. Cuoci then cleared the bases with his second longball of the game to get SJU back within one at 9-8. Charlie Concannon followed with a double and came around to score on a single by Maul to tie the game.
UK opened up another lead in the sixth, plating four runs on a bases-loaded walk by Luke Heyer and a three-run double by Luke Becker. The Wildcats tacked on three more on a pair of singles, a triple, and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
“We are starting to find some rhythm offensively,” head coach Fritz Hamburg said. “I thought we had some good at bats today. It was good to see Dominic and Peter swing it the way they did. Peter's grand slam and Dominic's first home run of the day gave us a solid lead, but unfortunately, we have not found our way on the mound to date.”
Zach Pop earned the win in relief for Kentucky, allowing just two hits in three and two-thirds innings. Joey Gorman was charged with two runs on one hit in one inning of work to take the loss. The Hawks were hampered by the base on balls on Friday; SJU issued 12 walks, and five of those runners came around to score.
“Anyone will have a difficult time getting the right team result when giving up 12 free passes and pitching behind in the count the way we have,” Hamburg said. “Our performance today on the mound was no different than what it was last weekend. We have to find a way to compete a lot better than we are from that standpoint.
“Tomorrow can't come soon enough,” Hamburg said. “As a staff, we want and need to see who is going to step up and embrace the challenge of holding the rope, playing with some presence and edge, and finishing the task.”
The Hawks return to the diamond on Saturday at noon when they meet Delaware.