EAST PROVIDENCE, RI - #2 Saint Joseph's (30-10, 11-3 GNAC) defeated #1 Suffolk University (20-14, 13-1 GNAC), 12-4, in a GNAC Tournament Semifinal at Pierce Field on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, St. Joe's remains in the winner's bracket and will play Suffolk, who remained alive with a 7-4 win over JWU later in the day, in the conference championship game tomorrow at 12:00 PM.
SJC starter Sam Murray '12 (Walpole, MA) tossed a complete-game seven-hitter with five strikeouts and just one earned run allowed in the win. The 2010 GNAC Pitcher of the Year improves to 6-1 on the season with a team-high five complete games and lowers his staff-best ERA to 1.81.
First baseman Ben Grant-Roy '10 (Biddeford, ME) carried the Monks offensively, having gone 3-4 with two runs, a double, a triple and five RBI in the one-sided triumph. Catcher Travis Adams '10 (Saco, ME) went 3-5 with a run and second sacker Mike Burdin '10 (Gardiner, ME) was 2-4 with four runs scored for the Monks, who registered 16 hits against the Rams. Designated hitter Pat Moran '10 (Winterport, ME) chipped in with a 2-5 performance and knocked in a pair with a run scored.
Suffolk starter Alex Torres '11 (Framingham, MA) suffered the loss after allowing 10 runs, five earned, off 12 hits in 4.1 innings. The junior right-hander threw 122 pitches with four K's and three hit batsmen in the losing effort. Tim Belanger '12 (Raynham, MA) was effective in 2.2 innings of relief, fanning four with just two hits allowed, and Mike Dixon '13 (Medford, MA) allowed two runs off two hits and a pair of hit batsmen in two frames of mop-up work for the Rams.
Suffolk's lone repeat-hitter was rookie third baseman Jhonneris Mendez (Roslindale, MA), who went 2-4 in the loss. Rory Gentile '10 (Gloucester, MA) and Mark Addesa '11 (Revere, MA) both registered doubles for the Rams.
With the help of a Suffolk error, the Monks managed to score three two-out runs, all unearned, in the top of the first to secure the early lead. With two out and Burdin on first base, Grant-Roy hit a sharp grounder that was misplayed by Rams second baseman Chris Stanley '13 (Orange County, CA). Left fielder Ian Lee '11 (Hampden, ME) followed with a single through the right side, scoring Burdin, and Moran followed with a line drive single down the left field line to plate Grant-Roy. St. Joe's capped the three-run first when third baseman Mike Pratt '13 (Dartmouth, MA) was plunked by an errant Torres pitch with bases loaded.
The Rams proceeded to notch three unearned runs of their own to tie the game at three apiece after one inning of play. Gentile opened the bottom of the first with a double to center and Stanley reached on an infield error. The next batter, catcher Bobby Barrett '10 (Milton, MA), hit a rising liner to right that was misplayed by Todd Keneborus '11 (Hollis Center, ME/Cheverus) and wound up on second with Gentile racing home. Right fielder Andrew Babb '11 (Hopkinton, MA) drove in Stanley and Barrett with a single to right to knot the game, 3-3.
The Monks, unfazed, went on to regain the lead in their next turn, as Burdin reached via hit by pitch with one out and scored on a Grant-Roy two-bagger to left center with two down.
After an efficient 1-2-3 second inning by Murray, Saint Joseph's proceeded to increase its cushion to 6-3 with a pair of runs off an RBI single by Pratt and a Suffolk infield miscue. Over the next two innings, while Murray continued to stymie the Rams, the Monks managed to extend their lead to 10-3 with two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. Moran and Adams recorded RBI's in the fourth and Grant-Roy tripled home a pair in the fifth for the Royal Blue.
The Rams tacked on their fourth run of the game in the seventh, as Addesa led off the inning with a double down the left field line and scored on a Gentile groundout to short.
The Monks capped the game scoring with two two-out runs off two hits in the top of the eighth. Dan Achorn '12 (Bow, NH), who walked, and Burdin, after reaching with a base-knock through the left side, both scored on a Grant-Roy single up the middle to make it a 12-4 game.
The Monks, seeking their fifth conference title in six years and second GNAC crown as a third-year member of the conference, will play defending GNAC Champion Suffolk in the championship contest tomorrow. If defeated, the two teams will play a second game in accordance with the double-elimination tournament format.
The important conference tourney win provides the Monks with the team's fifth 30-win season in the last six years. Head Coach Will Sanborn '86 has now reached the 30-win mark seven times in his 18-year career and, with 466 career wins, is now tied with former men's basketball coach Rick Simonds for the school-record for most career victories in a single sport. Simonds, who accomplished a 466-176 (.736) record in 23 seasons at the helm for the SJC hoopsters, is the Saint Joseph's College all-time leader in coaching wins with 504, as he notched a 38-win season as the head coach of the 1996 softball team. In 18 years at St. Joe's, Sanborn has amassed a 466-270-6 (.633) career record.