LYNN, Mass. – After third-seeded Johnson & Wales University earned a 15-2 win earlier in the afternoon on Sunday to force the if-necessary game of the 2019 GNAC Baseball Tournament, second-seeded Saint Joseph's College of Maine earned a thrilling 8-7 victory in 11 innings over the Wildcats in the GNAC Final on Sunday evening. As a result, SJC captures the league's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
It marks the first GNAC title for the Monks since 2014, as host and top seed Suffolk University had captured the last four conference crowns before losing to SJC then JWU on Saturday.
Facing a 7-4 deficit in the ninth of the if-necessary game, SJC pushed three across to tie it and send it to extras before walking off in the 11th at historic Fraser Field in Lynn.
In Game One, JWU starting pitcher James Smiegocki threw one of the best games of his collegiate career. He gave up the two runs on nine hits with six strikeouts. SJC only got runners past second base in the third and fifth innings.
JWU started the scoring with a trio of runs in the third inning. Tim Lombardi and Steve Rocchio drew back-to-back walks. Colby Greenhalgh delivered a single to score Lombardi then Rocchio and Greenhalgh crossed the plate on an Adam Diehl single.
A wild pitch in the fourth allowed Joe Maracic to score. A Greenhalgh double plated Rocchio then Greenhalgh scored himself on an Alex Domingos single.
The Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the fifth on only one hit. Armani Henderson was hit by a pitch and Maracic drew a walk. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners up then Lombardi came through with a single to score both. For good measure, the Wildcats tacked on four runs in the top of ninth. Diehl drove in Domingos and Greenhalgh with a double.
JWU opened the game two scoring in the top of the third. Domingos drew a bases loaded walk to score Ramiel Rodriguez.
The Wildcats answered SJC's two runs in the bottom of the fourth with two of their own in the fifth. Diehl's single brought home Rocchio then Aidan Hagarty scored Domingos with a single to right field.
Back-to-back walks to Rocchio and Greenhalgh loaded the bases in the eighth. Domingos came through with a two-run double that gave JWU the lead. Diehl followed with a single to score Domingos and Greenhalgh.
The game went into extra innings when Saint Joseph's got three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Ronan Chisholm's two-out single scored a pair to tie the game at 7-7. SJC's Greg Emanuelson drove in the winning run with a double in the bottom of the 11th.
Courtesy of JWU Athletics Communications.