GORHAM – The latest meeting between the St. Joseph’s College and University of Southern Maine baseball teams turned out to be a drama-filled game befitting their 35-year-old rivalry.

St. Joseph’s trailed 5-1 through five innings, but designated hitter Ian Lee and reliever Pat Moran fueled a comeback by the Monks, who rallied for a 7-6 victory.

Lee made it 5-4 with a three-run homer in the sixth inning. In the eighth, his double to center drove home Ben Grant-Roy with the tying run, and Travis Adams’ RBI single gave St. Joseph’s (20-10) its first lead.

Moran, meanwhile, shut down the Huskies (12-10) after taking over in the sixth inning. He allowed just two hits and one run over the final 32/3 innings, improving his record to 5-1.

“That was a big win,” said Monks Coach Will Sanborn. “Once we got ahead we had to pitch well under pressure. We’ve struggled with getting guys to play a full game (until this.)”

The play of the game occurred in the top of the ninth, with the Monks trying to add to their one-run lead.

Chris Campbell opened the inning with a bunt single, Mike Burdin reached on an error, and Grant-Roy drew a one-out walk.

The next batter, Nate Martin, worked the count to 3-1, at which point he saw the third-base coach signal for a steal. Unsure what he was supposed to do, he squared around to bunt.

the time Moran finished his delivery, Campbell was practically at the plate. Martin got the bunt down, and Campbell easily scored.

The call, said Sanborn, was for a straight steal.

“We hadn’t gone over that yet. It was a 3-1 count and I saw him give the steal sign, and I didn’t know what to do,” said Martin. “I just dropped the bunt.”

The insurance run proved important.

Moran walked leadoff batter Roberto Valenti in the bottom of the ninth, then struck out Lucas Marks and Greg Holmes before issuing another walk to Anthony Pisani. Mike Eaton followed with an RBI single, but Moran got designated hitter Collin Henry to fly to center for the final out.

“I kind of (hurt) myself and walked a few,” said Moran. “(Collin) is a great hitter so I had to attack with the fastball.”

Moran finished with six strikeouts.

“He’s their best guy,” said Henry. “He challenged me with a fastball — that’s how you like it — and I just got under it a hair.”

USM is young this season, said Henry, and facing a pitcher like Moran should help down the stretch.

“He’s the X-factor with those teams,” said Huskies Coach Ed Flaherty. “Some of our guys haven’t seen that velocity or command.”

USM took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a double by Holmes, a triple by Pisani and a groundout by Eaton.

Zach Fernandes made it 5-1 with a three-run homer in the fourth.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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