BOSTON, MA – Saint Joseph's College (12-2, 4-0 GNAC) won both ends of a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) doubleheader versus Suffolk University (4-12, 0-4 GNAC) on Saturday. The Monks started the day with an 8-6 win and closed out the sweep with a 5-4 win in the nightcap.
For Head Coach Jamie Smyth '92, now in his 17th season at the helm for the Monks, the 8-6 result in the opener counted as the 400th victory of his outstanding career. A five-time Conference Coach of the Year honoree, Smyth has guided Saint Joseph's to six conference crowns, including GNAC titles and NCAA Tournament berths in each of the last three seasons, and is the winningest skipper (400-260, .606) in program history.
Saint Joseph's jumped out to a 5-2 lead off five hits through three innings and the damage could have been much worse, as the Royal Blue left the bases loaded in the top of the first and third frames. The Monks stranded 12 runners overall in the first contest of the day.
In the first, junior third baseman Kim Jordan (Bangor, Maine) led off with a walk and senior second baseman Connie Grovo (Limington, Maine) followed with a single. Jordan scored two batters later when freshman shortstop Danica Gleason (South Portland, Maine) doubled to left-center and senior center fielder Theresa Hendrix (Scarborough, Maine/Cheverus) plated Grovo with a base hit to left to lift the visitors to an early 2-0 lead.
The Rams evened up the score in the bottom of the second when Meredith Ball (Nahant, Mass.) delivered a two-run homer, but the Monks took the lead for good with three runs off a pair of hits and a Suffolk error in the top of the third.
Senior Lindsay Moore (Barrington, N.H.) opened with a single and Gleason walked to begin the third inning and both players scampered home when sophomore left fielder Megen Pollini (Wolfeboro, N.H.) singled to center. With the bases loaded two batters later, freshman catcher Carla Tripp (Lovell, Maine) was plunked by an errant pitch, a play that allowed sophomore first baseman Melissa Mayhew (Hiram, Maine) to trot home and make it a 5-2 game in favor of the Monks.
Saint Joseph's managed to score twice in the fifth when Jordan doubled home Pollini and Victoria Ramos (North Scituate, R.I.) and added another run in the sixth when Hendrix touched the plate on a Mayhew single.
As it played out, the runs proved to be necessary as Suffolk rallied with three runs off three hits in the bottom of the seventh. The effort fell short however, as SJC senior pitcher Rae-Marie Copan (Newton, Mass.) finished what she started by inducing a pair of harmless groundouts to close out the contest.
The Monks featured four repeat-hitters in the opener, as Grovo, Gleason, Hendrix and Pollini registered two hits apiece in the 8-6 triumph. Copan improved to 6-0 on the season after allowing six runs (five earned) off 13 hits with one strikeout over seven innings.
For the Rams, freshman Kristen Young (Windsor, Conn.) was 3-4 with a run and senior Nikki Cignarella (Norwood, Mass.) went 3-4 with two runs and a double. Senior pitcher Sarah Chasse (Salem, Mass.) suffered the loss after yielding eight runs (four earned) off 11 hits and eight walks with six K's in seven innings.
Saint Joseph's took control early again in the nightcap, scoring four runs off five hits and a Suffolk miscue over the first two innings combined, but the early returns were nearly wasted as the Monks required late heroics from a first-year player to clinch the sweep.
In the first inning, Gleason and Hendrix drove in runs with a single and a fielder's choice, respectively, to put the Monks on top by a 2-0 margin. The Royal Blue doubled the score with two out in the next turn, as Jordan doubled and scored on a Grovo base hit and Moore sent Grovo home with a double down the left field line.
Saint Joseph's sophomore starter Erica Boulanger (Somersworth, N.H.) cruised through the first four innings, but the complexion of the game changed in the fifth when Suffolk knotted the contest at four off three hits. With bases loaded and nobody out, senior Erin McAndrews (Marblehead, Mass.) put the hosts on the board with an RBI on a fielder's choice and trotted home when the following batter, freshman Anna Grace Maggs (Schenectady, N.Y.), deposited a three-run homer to tie the contest.
Neither team mounted a scoring threat in the sixth inning and the GNAC tilt seemed destined for extra innings, particularly after Grovo and Moore opened the top of the seventh with a pair of outfield flies. Showing a flair for the dramatic, Gleason strode to the plate and belted a home run – the first of her NCAA career - over the right field fence to put the Monks on top.
The Rams did not go away easily however, as Chasse led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and moved into scoring position on a sac bunt by Young. McAndrews stepped to the plate and would fall victim to a rare double play, as the senior hit a liner to right that was caught by Ramos, who threw to second to cut down Chasse, ending the game and completing the sweep for the visitors.
For the Monks, Jordan was 2-4 with two runs and a double, Grovo went 2-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI and Gleason added two hits in four at bats with the eventual winning homer. Boulanger did not factor into the decision after allowing four runs off seven hits and three walks while fanning four in five-plus innings. Freshman Danielle Egan (Waterboro, Maine) picked up her second win of the season after tossing two hitless innings in relief.
Young was 2-2 with a pair of sac bunts and was the Rams' lone repeat-hitter in the setback. Freshman pitcher Kim Crucioli (North Andover, Mass.) took the loss in the circle after yielding five runs (four earned) off seven hits and a walk with four K's in seven innings.
Saint Joseph's is scheduled to play at Johnson & Wales University in a conference doubleheader tomorrow afternoon, weather permitting. First pitch is slated for 3:00 PM.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 430-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.