STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (32-5, 14-2 GNAC) and Anna Maria College (20-14, 11-5 GNAC) split a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) baseball doubleheader at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Sunday afternoon. The Monks won the opener, 3-1, and suffered a 3-2 loss in the nightcap.
With the opening win, Saint Joseph's earned the #1 seed in the GNAC Tournament, which begins next week. The Monks will host a quarterfinal contest on Thursday – opponent and start time will be announced at some point on Monday evening.
The first game of the day required only 90 minutes to complete as SJC starter Lincoln Sanborn (Standish, Maine) and Anna Maria hurler Kevin Wodatch (Wallingford, Conn.) locked heads in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel. In the end, Sanborn came out on top, improving to 6-0 on the season after allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts. Wodatch yielded three runs (two earned) off five hits and fanned three to fall to 1-4 on the year.
The AMCATS would score their only run of the opening contest in the top of the third, when Wodatch helped his case by launching a solo home run, his sixth long ball of the season, over the left field wall.
The Monks quickly responded, scoring a run off two hits and an Anna Maria miscue to knot the game at one-apiece. Senior third baseman Dan Brown (Portland, Maine/Deering) jumpstarted the SJC offense with a single to center and crossed the plate three batters later when shortstop Dan Achorn (Bow, N.H.) roped a base hit up the middle.
Brown would be in the thick of the SJC scoring efforts again in the fourth, when Saint Joseph's plated two runs off three hits to clinch the victory. Junior first baseman Mike Pratt (Dartmouth, Mass.) singled to left, moved up a bag on an Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) sac bunt, and scored on a Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus) base hit. After Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.) was plunked by an errant Wodatch offering, Brown strode to the plate and sent Lops scrambling home with a single through the right side.
Brown was the only repeat-hitter for the hosts, having gone 2-2 with a run and an RBI in the win. Anna Maria senior Jeff Scafidi (Worcester, Mass.) was 2-3 with a double in a losing effort for the AMCATS.
St. Joe's had difficulty solving Anna Maria senior pitcher Dean Diamantopoulos (Shrewsbury, Mass.), who held the Monks to just four hits and tossed just 58 pitches in six innings to improve to 3-1 on the year.
Saint Joseph's was held without a baserunner until the bottom of the third, when Brown singled to right-center with one out. Trailing 1-0 after AMCATS first baseman Padraig Gilman (Leominster, Mass.) doubled and scored on a Wodatch single in the fifth, the Monks would not have another runner until the bottom of fifth when the hosts scored twice off three hits to secure a 2-1 lead. Lorenc led off the inning with a double off the left-center wall and scored two batters later when Markakis drove a ball over the left field fence for his first collegiate home run.
The SJC edge did not last long however, as Anna Maria plated two runs off three hits in the top of the sixth to steal the victory. Wodatch and Justin Hyland (Spencer, Mass.) rapped RBI singles in an inning that required three St. Joe's pitchers to retire the visitors' side.
The Monks received an excellent starting pitching performance from freshman Alex Valenti (Lawrence, Mass.), who worked four scoreless, one-hit frames while walking two and fanning a pair. SJC relievers Andrew Devereaux (Hope Valley, R.I.), Kyle Neagle (Lisbon Falls, Maine) and Steve Carlberg (Dover, N.H.) combined to allow three runs off five hits and two walks before junior Jimmy Kennedy (York, Maine) closed the door with a very effective 1.1 innings of relief.
AMCATS senior closer Tim Henderson (Wayland, Mass.) tossed a perfect seventh inning and struck out one to earn his fourth save of the season. Wodatch, 2-4 with two RBI, and Hyland, 2-2 with an RBI and a pair of sac bunts, were the only repeat-hitters for either team in the closing contest.
Prior to the start of the contest St. Joe's held a brief ceremony to honor the team's 10 seniors: Achorn, Brown, Devereaux, Neagle, Jon Dahms (Gorham, Maine), Peter Allain (Salem, N.H.), Sam Murray (Walpole, Mass.), James Mostone (Pelham, N.H.), and student assistants John Swasey (South Berwick, Maine) and Cameron Sprague (Portland, Maine/Deering). The 2012 graduating class has helped the Monks post an astonishing 130-46 (.739) record during their four years and already ranks as the winningest class in SJC baseball program history. The 2012 class has been a part of four consecutive 30-win seasons, a fact no other class in team history can claim.
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.