March 30, 2012
MERION STATION, Pa. - Junior righthander Kyle Mullen kept the Rhode Island bats off balance and freshman catcher Brian O'Keefe hit his first career home run as the Saint Joseph's baseball team won its Atlantic 10 opener on Friday afternoon, toppling the Rams by a 3-2 score on the Maguire Campus.
The win is the fourth in a row for the Hawks; dating back to 2009, SJU has now won four straight conference openers.
Saint Joseph's (8-18 overall, 1-0 Atlantic 10) took an early lead as Greg Kumpel ripped a double to the left field corner to plate Stefan Kancylarz and give the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Kancylarz doubled with one out in the third and came around to score two batters later on a single by Tommy Cunningham to double the advantage.
Rhode Island (10-13 overall, 2-2 Atlantic 10) got back within a run in the top of the fourth on an RBI groundout by Pat Fortunato.
O'Keefe led off the bottom of the fifth, and, after hitting a long foul ball down the left field line earlier in the at bat, ripped his first collegiate home run over the fence in left center to restore the two-run margin.
Chris Famiglietti hit a one-out double for the Rams in the top of the eighth and came in to score on a single by Pat Quinn, but Mullen sent Milan Adams down on strikes to end the threat.
Steven Schuler came on in the ninth and shut the door for the Hawks to earn his first career save.
Mullen allowed two runs on seven hits and notched eight strikeouts in his eight innings of work to earn his second win of the year. URI's Chris Pickering fell to 2-5 after ceding three runs on seven hits in seven innings.
The teams will head back to the diamond on Saturday afternoon to continue the series. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. As inclement weather is in the forecast, check back with SJUHawks.com for updates on any changes to the schedule.