The Suffolk University baseball team dropped a 7-5 decision to the St. Joseph's College Monks in the quarterfinal round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament. The Rams collected 12 hits on the day and drew five base on balls but could not get the big hit when they needed it as they Monks connected on three home runs in the game to take the opener of the four-team double elimination tournament.
Junior Brandon Chase (Naples, Me.) hit a go-ahead two run home run in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference in the game as he crushed a 1-2 breaking ball over the 320 sign in left field to put the Monks up 6-5.
The Rams opened the game strong offensively. Sophomore Devan Jones (Roslindale, Mass.) doubled to lead of the game, but would be stranded at third after a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Mike Muse (Milton, Mass.) as the Rams could not score a run in the first.
Suffolk got three runs in the third inning with sophomore Mac Jacobson (Norfolk, Mass.) and Jones each hitting consecutive singles with one out. Muse drove in the first run of the contest as he hit a flare to center to plate Jacobson to give the Rams the early edge. Freshman J.C. Collette (Amesbury, Mass.) then hit a ground ball through the left side for an RBI single to score Jones for the second run. Junior Jhonneris Mendez (Boston, Mass.) then drew a walk that was followed by a bases loaded walk to junior Chris Stanley (Orange County, Calif.) as Suffolk stake themselves to a 3-0 edge.
The Monks would get on the board in the fourth inning as sophomore Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.) singled to left to plate sophomore Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) who reached on an error.
Junior Mike Pratt (Dartmouth, Mass.) would give St. Joseph's the lead in the fifth however as he crushed a 3-1 offering by junior Mitch Monke (Springfield, Ohio) for a three-run blast for the 4-3 lead.
Suffolk answered in the top half of the sixth regaining the lead, 5-4. Sophomore Danny Gunn (Medford, Mass.) would get things going with a single to right that was followed by a base on balls to Jacobson with two outs. Jones would even the game with a base hit up the middle to score Gunn. Muse once again put the Rams on top as his single down the left field line would send Jacobson home, but the inning would end with Jones trying to score on a bang-bang play at the plate.
The lead wouldn't last long as Chase's homer in the following half inning would give the Monks the lead for good and chase Monke from the ball game. It was Chase's seventh home run of the season.
Monke pitched well in the game but two pitches proved to be the difference in his outing. The junior southpaw struck out eight over five-plus innings of work scattering seven hits and six runs. All five of the six runs scored that were earned came off two swings of the bat.
Suffolk threatened in the seventh as sophomore Jake Cintolo (Wrentham, Mass.) would lead the inning off with a base hit, that would be followed by a walk to Collette and Mendez single to load the bases with nobody out. A strikeout, pop-up to shallow left and ground ball to short would diminish any chance of Suffolk scoring in the inning as Monks junior starter Chad Rafferty (Keene, N.H.) dodged danger escaping the seventh inning bases loaded threat with the lead still intact.
In the eighth, Jacobson would lead the inning off with a double to left center that chased Rafferty from the contest. Freshman Alex Valenti (Lawrence, Mass.) held off the Rams' threat with two punchouts in the inning to preserve the lead.
Senior Dan Achorn (Bow, N.H.) hit a solo home run with two outs in the eighth inning to give the Monks some insurance.
Rafferty got the win on the mound for the Monks to improve to 8-0 on the season, he allowed 12 hits in seven plus innings of work while also walking five. The junior righty did punch out 11 Suffolk hitters.
Valenti earned his third save of the season throwing the final two innings of the game, recording both of his strikeouts in the eighth.
Jones finished the game 3-for-5 for Suffolk with an RBI and run scored. Muse drove in a pair on a 2-for-4 performance at the plate, while Jacobson was 2-for-2 with a walk and three runs scored.
Suffolk left 11 runners on base in the game.
St. Joseph's now advances to the winner's bracket as they will play on Saturday afternoon at 1:00pm against the winner of the Anna Maria-Johnson & Wales University matchup that will be played Thursday evening.
The Rams now face a long road ahead as they must win their next four in a row to capture the GNAC title and program's fifth NCAA appearance. They'll need to win two on Saturday to advance to Sunday's championship. Suffolk will open the weekend at 10:00am in the elimination game. All games this weekend will be played at Pierce Field in East Providence, RI.
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