Monks Breeze Past Bobcats in Tourney Tune-Up, 10-2
STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (37-5, 14-2 GNAC) skated past Bates College (23-17, 5-7 NESCAC), 10-2, in non-conference baseball action at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Wednesday afternoon. Sophomore right fielder Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) paced the SJC offense by going 4-4 with three runs, a double and an RBI in the convincing victory.
Junior starting pitcher Chad Rafferty (Keene, N.H.) was again dominant for St. Joe's, allowing two unearned runs off just three hits and no walks with six strikeouts over eight innings to improve to 9-0 on the season. The Monks' ace finished his outing having tossed only 81 pitches – 57 strikes – and grew stronger as the game progressed with perfect six, seventh and eighth innings before being lifted in favor of freshman reliever Alex Valenti (Lawrence, Mass.).
The Monks clicked on all cylinders in what was a scheduled tune-up for the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week. With their workhorse dealing on the mound, the hosts scored a run in the first and never relinquished the lead. St. Joe's went on to score five in the third and two in the fifth along with single runs in the sixth and eighth frames to earn what could prove to be an important victory, as far as tournament seeding is concerned.
In the bottom of the first, senior shortstop Dan Achorn (Bow, N.H.) worked a walk and moved up to second on a Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.) base hit to right field. Lorenc would lift the Royal Blue to an early lead by plating Achorn with a line-drive single through the left side.
The 1-0 edge held until the bottom of the third when Saint Joseph's scored five runs off five hits and a Bates error to gain control of the contest. Coyne reached with a double to left-center, Mike Pratt (Dartmouth, Mass.) was hit by a pitch, and Lorenc singled to load the bases for freshman Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus), who drove a single up the middle. Coyne scored easily on the play and Pratt would scamper home when Bobcats' center fielder Steve Burke (Bedford, N.H.) bobbled the ball, a miscue that allowed Lorenc and Lops to move up to third and second, respectively. Senior third baseman Dan Brown (Portland, Maine/Deering) followed with a single to plate Lorenc and Sam Butts (Saco, Maine) knocked Lops in with a base hit through the left side to make it a 5-0 game. Brown would score when the next batter, junior Nate Martin (Chebeague Island, Maine), reached on a fielder's choice to cap the scoring in the third.
The Bobcats would produce their only offense of the afternoon with two runs in the fifth. Leading off the inning was Burke, who struck out on a curveball in the dirt and sprinted all the way to second base on a throwing error by Coyne. After moving to third on an infield out, Burke scored when sophomore catcher Jeffrey Gunn (Atlanta, Ga.) grounded out to short. Freshman right fielder Nate Pajka (Douglass, Mass.) followed with his team-leading seventh home run of the season, a lofting drive that was nearly caught by Lorenc at the right field wall.
The Monks would respond with two runs of their own to regain the six-run advantage. With two out in the bottom of the frame, Martin drove a ball to the triangle in center field for an inside-the-park home run. Junior second baseman Brandon Chase (Naples, Maine), who worked a walk, also scored on Martin's hustle homer, which was the first by a Monks' player since Eric LaBatte ripped a leg home run in a win over SUNY-Cobleskill on March 14th, 2009.
With one out in the sixth, Lorenc singled, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball, and scored on a Lops base hit to lift the Monks to a 9-2 advantage. Saint Joseph's went on to score the game's final run without recording a hit in the bottom of the eighth. Lorenc was plunked by an errant fastball to start off the frame, moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a wild pitch before Lops drove him home with a groundout to second base.
For the Monks, Coyne went 3-5 with a run and a double, Lops was 2-5 with a run and three RBI, Brown added two hits in four trips with a run and an RBI, and Martin registered three RBI in the victory.
Bates notched only four hits and did not feature a repeat-hitter in the losing effort. Starting pitcher Mike Antonellis (Sudbury, Mass.) falls to 3-3 on the season after yielding six runs (five earned) off nine hits, a walk and two hit batsmen with three K's over four innings. Chris Fusco (Annapolis, Md.) allowed three runs off four hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts in two innings while relievers Dean Bonneau (Amherst, Mass.) and Michael Spinosa (Charlottesville, Va.) combined to allow one run off one hit and two walks with two K's over two innings of mop-up duty.
With the winning decision, Rafferty sees his career record improve to an incredible 20-1 and becomes just the third pitcher in program history to reach the 20-win plateau. Richard Flaherty '86 (23-8) and Brent Dan '02 (21-10), both SJC Athletics Hall of Fame inductees, are the only others to notch at least 20 wins at Saint Joseph's.
The Monks' single-season record is held by Charlie Furbush, the current Seattle Mariners pitcher who tallied 10 victories as a sophomore in 2006.
Saint Joseph's is off until next Wednesday when the team begins play in the NCAA DIII Baseball Regional Tournament. Complete information about the tourney, including seeds, brackets and locations, will be available on Monday morning. Bates, which placed third in the NESCAC East Division standings this spring, has completed the 2012 campaign.
Saint Joseph's College, founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, celebrates its Centennial year in 2012 with a theme of "Realize the Promise" – honoring our commitment to educating well-rounded graduates who combine career focus with classic liberal arts studies. A Private, Catholic, primarily residential, coeducational liberal arts institution, Saint Joseph's welcomes students of all ages and all faiths. The campus, located 18 miles northwest of Portland and just two hours from Boston, encompasses 350 acres along the shore of beautiful Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine. Enrollment ranges between 1,000 and 1,100 students annually. Saint Joseph's offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education, nursing and business fields in a value-centered environment.