STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (12-6, 4-0 GNAC) completed a GNAC-weekend sweep with a pair of victories over Norwich University (2-9, 0-5 GNAC) at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Sunday afternoon. The Monks nipped the Cadets, 3-2, in the opener and blanked the visitors, 2-0, in the nightcap.
In an unusual twist, Saint Joseph's played as the away team at their home field in today's action. The doubleheader was originally scheduled to be played today at Norwich in Northfield, Vermont, but the Cadets' home field remains covered in snow, so the conference counterpart agreed to travel and play a 'home' game on the road.
The Monks opened the game with runs in the first and second innings to secure a 2-0 lead. Freshman shortstop Max McCoomb (South Berwick, Maine) led off the game with a sharp single up the middle, moved to second on a Louie Vigars (Stratham, N.H.) sac bunt, and scampered to third when Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) reached on an outfield error. Up next was junior first baseman Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus), who plated McCoomb with a groundout to second base.
In the second inning, sophomore left fielder Taylor Reuillard (Biddeford, Maine) singled up the middle and later scored on a two-out single off the bat of sophomore second baseman Zack Graham (Marlborough, Mass.).
The Cadets countered with a run in the bottom of the second when freshman designated hitter Travis Jacques (Peabody, Mass.) reached on a fielder's choice and scored on an outfield error when a double hit by Brandon Place (Concord, N.H.) was misplayed.
Norwich proceeded to knot the game at 2-2 in the fourth as senior third baseman Devin Cilley (Tunbridge, Vt.) walked and eventually scored on a single up the middle off the bat of freshman catcher Tim Haggerty (Medfield, Mass.).
The tie score remained until the top of the sixth, when the Monks plated the eventual winning run off two hits. With runners on first and second, senior designated hitter Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.) dropped down his third sacrifice bunt of the game to put a pair in scoring position. Freshman third baseman Taylor Black (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases and, two batters later, McCoomb came up the big hit, a run-scoring single, after a lengthy at bat in which he fouled off five straight pitches before sending junior catcher Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.) home with a base knock to right.
For the Monks, McCoomb was 2-4 with a run and an RBI, Lops went 2-4 with a double and an RBI and Reuillard added a pair of hits in three at bats wit ha run scored. Junior pitcher Alex Valenti (Lawrence, Mass.) picked up his second win of the season after allowing two runs (one earned) off five hits and three walks while fanning six over six frames. Sophomore reliever Corey McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) tossed seven pitches and induced three groundouts in the seventh to collect his first save of the season.
Sophomore starter Jacob Muetterties (Boxford, Mass.) suffered the loss for the Cadets after giving up three runs off seven hits and a walk while freshman Kyle Farquharson (South Ryegate, Vt.) allowed two hits in a scoreless inning of relief in the losing bid.
Pitching was prevalent in the closing contest, as SJC senior Nick Whittaker (Yarmouth, Maine) and Norwich sophomore Brian Whaley (St. Louis, Mo.) locked heads in a fast-paced game that required just 90 minutes to complete.
As it played out, the Monks produced all the offense they would need in the first inning, when Vigars reached on an infield error and scored two batters later on a two-out single by Lops to lift the Royal Blue to a 1-0 edge.
Saint Joseph's doubled the lead in the fifth when Markakis singled up the middle and stole second base to move into scoring position for Graham, who drove a two-out double down the right field line to make it a 2-0 game.
Whittaker put forth perhaps his most dominant collegiate effort in the victory, as the senior righthander did not allow a hit until senior Sean Gerich (Chicago, Ill.) singled to lead off the sixth. Sophomore Cody Lindell (Cranston, R.I.) also singled three batters later, but the pair of knocks turned out to be the only Norwich hits in the 2-0 loss and Whittaker ceased the threat by fanning Place for his third K of the inning.
The senior hurler faced trouble in the fourth when he hit a wild streak and walked the bases full with two out, but escaped unscathed by striking out sophomore Brian Baker (Keene, N.H.) on four pitches.
Markakis, 2-3 with a run and a stolen base, was the lone repeat-hitter for either team in the closing contest. Whittaker notched his second win of the year and tied a career-high with 10 punch-outs in the triumph.
Whaley suffered the hard-luck loss after surrendering two runs (one earned) off six hits with a pair of K's for the Cadets.
With the sweep, Saint Joseph's improves to 14-0 in the history of the series with Norwich University.
Saint Joseph's continues a busy stretch with a single nine-inning game versus Colby College at Mahaney Diamond at 4:00 PM on Monday. Norwich travels to Anna Maria College on Tuesday for a conference twinbill versus the AMCATS starting at 2:00 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.