Baseball: Bonnies Draw Familiar Foe in A-10 Tournament

(Aaron Phillips, photo credit Olean Times Herald)

By Josh Svetz @Svetz17

After the St. Bonaventure Bonnies secured the third seed last Friday against Fordham, fans waited anxiously to see who the Bonnies would face in the opening round of the A-10 Tournament.

Before the Saturday games started, it looked certain the Bonnies would take on the surging Saint Joseph’s Hawks for the first time this season.

But a strange wave of events commenced.

The Hawks, who had previously dominated George Washington two games straight, lost it’s regular season finale to the Colonials in a blow out. Then, after being blown out twice by St. Louis, George Mason put together a last-ditch effort and won the final game against the Billikens securing the final spot in the tournament.

St. Louis moved down to the five spot, pushing George Washington up to the fourth and Davidson rested in the sixth spot.

The Hawks were out, and the Bonnies now had a date with one of the toughest teams they’ve faced in conference this season, the Davidson Wildcats.

Back in March, the Bonnies were a sub-par club looking for answers. Out of conference they sat at 5-5, but had a little momentum going with two straight wins over North Dakota State, winning both games despite being shut out in the series opener.

Opening conference play against the Wildcats in North Carolina, the Bonnies stayed neck and neck, tied at one, through four innings.

Then, the inflammation in starting pitcher Brandon Schlimm’s throwing arm acted up. Schlimm gave up three runs and the Bonnies were down 4-1.

Hope shined through when the Bonnies got a man on base, but the sunshine vanished quickly.

A rain delay forced the game to be finished the next day and the Bonnies couldn’t recover, losing 9-2. Just an hour after that loss, the Bonnies had to go out and play again, losing by the same score.

But the next day, in the final game of the series, the Bonnies dominated the Wildcats 17-4, led by a six hit, eight RBI domination by David Hollins. The Bonnies also got a great performance from starting pitcher Aaron Phillips, giving up three-earned runs, five hits and tossing seven strikeouts.

That loss sent the Wildcats into a tailspin, dropping the next five games.

With Phillips likely to start and the Bonnies not dealing with rain delays, pitcher injuries or home field advantage, it’s more likely the team that beat the Wildcats last time will show up, rather than the shell that got beat down twice in a row in a span of three hours.

Still — winning is far from guaranteed.

The Wildcats feature top conference players like Will Robertson and Brian Fortier, two bombers ranking top 30 in the NCAA for home runs.

In fact, the Wildcats rank 20th in the NCAA, averaging 1.26 home runs per game.

But the biggest factor may be ace pitcher Durin O’Linger, who’s compiled a 1.33 ERA through the months of April and May in seven starts.

Despite the offense on both sides, a pitching duel looks evident with two studs like Phillips and O’Linger likely slinging for their teams.

The number one key to victory is Phillips keeping the Wildcat bombers at bay, something he should be able to do giving up just six home runs this season.

As much success as the Bonnies have had recently, there’s two teams that have come to play this season.

This afternoon we find out if the Bonnies are the back-to-back losers Davidson saw in the first two games, or the dominant winners that closed out the Wildcats in the final game of the series.

Baseball: St. Joe’s “hits ’em where they ain’t” in win over Bonnies

By Nate Discavage

The St. Joseph’s Hawks broke out to beat the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 13-2 Sunday in Atlantic 10 baseball at Fred Handler Park.  After winning the first game 14-3 and losing the second one 4-1, the Hawks jumped ahead early and never looked back.

The game got out of hand in the top of the third. Leading 2-1, Cal Jadacki drove in his second of three RBIs on a double to right field. Ryan Pater extended the lead even further with a two-run ground-rule double that bounced on the right field warning track before going over the fence. Shortstop Matt Maul hit a two-run single to left field to make the score 7-1.

The Hawks broke out again for four runs in the fifth. Two RBI singles and two sacrifice flies contributed to the scoring outbreak.

The game was not a complete loss for the Bonnies. Freshman shortstop Cole Petersen went 1-for-3 with a double and run scored. Reston Pettit also had a great game on the mound in relief for the Brown and White. Pettit pitched three innings and allowed four scattered hits while striking out three and not giving up a run.

Tim Ponto earned the win for St. Joe’s and improved his record to 2-5. He allowed one run on two hits in five innings pitched while striking out two. Justin Aungst pitched three innings of relief, allowing one run on two hits and striking out four.

Thad Johnson’s seventh-inning single was his 63rd of the season. He is one hit away from moving into the top 10 for most hits in a season by a St. Bonaventure player.

The Bonnies fell to 16-26-2 (3-18) with the loss and will host VCU next weekend for a three-game series to end the season.

Baseball: Bonnies share an unusual doubleheader with Niagara

By Nate Discavage

Today’s doubleheader between the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and Niagara Purple Eagles started like any other college baseball game. Fans of the brown and white circled around Fred Handler Park as the sun shined and a gentle breeze blew across campus. Spectators were treated to an exciting come-from-behind victory in game one but were stunned by the result of the nightcap: a tie.

With the sun fading behind the mountain on the horizon, the umpires met and made the decision to call the game on account of darkness.  Home fans were already disappointed after the team was unable to score a runner from third with no outs in extra innings, but the ending of the game made them even more upset.  When the players left the field, the scoreboard read Niagara 1, St. Bonaventure 1 in eight innings.

Although St. Bonaventure fans were annoyed by the ending of the last game, the first gave them plenty to talk about.

After trailing the game 6-1 as late as the fifth inning (doubleheader weekday games only last seven innings), the Bonnies rallied behind the bats of Dylan Dunn, Cole Peterson, and Thad Johnson.

Dunn resurrected the quiet fans with a home run that easily cleared the deep fence in left field.  His solo shot made it a 6-2 Niagara lead.  It was the first home run by a St. Bonaventure hitter this season.

The team scored again in the bottom of the sixth inning when Tyler Kirwan scored off of Peterson’s RBI triple to the right-center gap.  Peterson crossed the plate on an RBI double by Johnson.

With their lead cut down to two runs, Niagara did not give up. Senior Anthony Firenzi hit a solo home run to almost the exact same spot as Dunn.

Carrying a 7-4 lead, the Purple Eagles gave the ball to sophomore Daniel Procopio to shut down the game.  After starting off the inning by forcing a groundout, Procopio gave up a double to Tyler Walter. Walter scored on the next play as Jonathan Diaz hit an RBI single. After another walk to Kirwan, both runners moved up to second and third on a passed ball.  Peterson hit an RBI groundout to first that allowed Diaz to cross home plate. Trailing 7-6 with two outs, Johnson stepped into the box and tied the game with a single to right field.

The game went to extra innings. In both the eighth and ninth inning, the Bonnies were able to get runners in scoring position but couldn’t score them. Their big break came in the bottom of the tenth when the freshman Peterson hit a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Alex Schutz to score the game-winning run.

The Bonnies stormed onto the field and celebrated but the festivities were short-lived as they started preparing for the second game.

The nightcap featured a lot less offense and put a huge emphasis on outstanding pitching and defense.

The Purple Eagles’ lone run of the game came in the top of the third. With a runner on third and two outs, Tanner Kirwer successfully pulled off a squeeze bunt that put Niagara ahead 1-0.

The lead was short-lived as freshman John Novenche followed up a double by Dunn with an RBI single up the middle.  It was the second straight game that Novenche drove in the Bonnies’ first run of the game.

The rest of the game starred highlight defensive plays and shut-down pitching.  No play was more jaw-dropping than an acrobatic diving catch in the top of the sixth inning.

Zach Glowacki started the second game for Niagara.  He pitched seven and two-thirds innings pitched while allowing only one run on six hits.  Glowacki struck out four.

Bonnies’ freshman Ben Contento shut down the Purple Eagles in the last two innings.  He did not allow a run and struck out three batters.

Johnson was the standout player of the game.  In nine at-bats, Johnson had seven hits.  He drove in two runs.  Johnson also earned the win after pitching the last two innings.  He did not allow a base runner and struck out one.

The Bonnies improved to 10-2-1 while Niagara fell to 3-13-1.

St. Bonaventure will open their conference schedule on Friday with a three-game series at George Washington.