STANDISH, ME – Second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (21-12, 11-3 GNAC) overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat third-seeded Lasell College (18-11, 10-4 GNAC), 9-2, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Baseball Tournament Quarterfinal contest at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Thursday afternoon. The win moves Saint Joseph's into the winners' bracket where they will face top-seeded Suffolk University at 1:30 PM on Saturday. Lasell falls into the losers' bracket and takes on #4 Johnson & Wales University in a 10:00 AM elimination contest on Saturday.
In the top of the first, senior first baseman Billy Uberti (Newton, Mass.) singled to left-center with one out, advanced to second on an errant pick-off attempt and scored when junior left fielder Kevin Post (Cromwell, Conn.) hit a seeing-eye single through the right side. Sophomore catcher Wes Hurty (Windsor, Conn.) worked a walk and later scored on an infield error to make it a 2-0 game in favor of the Lasers.
The Monks squandered a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first, as freshman shortstop Max McCoomb (South Berwick, Maine) reached on an error and senior center fielder Louie Vigars (Stratham, N.H.) followed with a free pass, but Lasell sophomore southpaw Rob Madden (Hingham, Mass.) worked out of the jam by inducing a pop-up, a fly-out and a groundout.
Senior right fielder Bobby Ellard (Medfield, Mass.) opened the second with a double down the right field line, but was erased off the basepaths attempting to steal third. Freshman center fielder Brandon Valentin (Meriden, Conn.) reached on another infield miscue and sophomore shortstop Dan Gagnon (Pomfret Center, Conn.) singled through the left side to set up another scoring opportunity, but Whittaker escaped unscathed with the help of an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Saint Joseph's got on the board in the bottom of the third when McCoomb opened with a single to center, moved to second on a Vigars sac bunt and scored on a two-out single from junior catcher Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.).
The hosts went on to take the lead for good with three runs off four hits in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman first baseman Brett Barbati (Melrose, Mass.) kicked off the inning with a line-drive single through the right side and, after going to second on a Zack Graham (Marlborough, Mass.) sac bunt, moved to third when McCoomb roped a single through the left side. Both players would score two batters later when senior right fielder Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) drove a double to the wall in left-center, lifting the Monks to a 3-2 lead. Coyne followed with a bloop single, scoring Lorenc, to make it a 4-2 game.
The Monks tacked on an additional run in the fifth when senior third baseman Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.) singled up the middle, scampered to second on a Barbati sac bunt, moved to third on a Graham single, and scored on a McCoomb sacrifice fly to right field.
St. Joe's put the game out of reach by scoring four runs on four hits and two Lasell miscues in the eighth to account for the 9-2 final. Lorenc led off with a single through the left side, swiped second, and scored when junior Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine) rapped a base hit to right-center. Mike Kinch (Newton, Mass.), pinch running for Lops, moved up to second on a sac bunt attempt by Coyne, who also reached when the play was botched. Kinch promptly scored on a Taylor Reuillard (Biddeford, Maine) single and Barbati knocked in a pair with a single up the middle, extending the SJC advantage to 9-2.
Barbati paced the Monks' offense by going 3-4 with a run and two RBI while Lorenc went 2-4 with two runs, a double and a pair of RBI and Coyne was 2-4 with a run and a pair of runs batted in. McCoomb added two hits in four at bats with a pair of runs and an RBI, Lops went 2-4 with an RBI, and Reuillard went 2-5 with an RBI in the triumph.
Zach Whittaker improves to 5-1 on the season after yielding two runs (one earned) on nine hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in eight innings. Sophomore reliever Corey McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) finished the game on the mound for the Monks and induced three quick groundouts to close out the contest.
Gagnon, Ellard, Chris Pittman (Brockton, Mass.) and Hector Coscione (Newton, Mass.) recorded two hits apiece in the loss for Lasell. Madden took the loss and falls to 1-3 on the season after surrendering four runs on six hits and three walks with one strikeout in 3.2 innings. Sophomore Gary Trotteir (Rehobeth, Mass.) gave up a run on three hits and a walk in 1.1 innings of relief and senior Mike Rodriguez (Brockton, Mass.) allowed four runs on six hits with three punch-outs in three innings of work.