STANDISH – For most of the afternoon Sunday, Dan Brown was strolling through the bleachers at St. Joseph’s College, hawking 50-50 raffle tickets to raise money for his ball club.

Five bucks got you an arm’s length.

In the ninth inning, he earned his keep on the field.

Brown drove a two-out, pinch-hit double into center field on a 2-2 count to bring in the winning run for St. Joe’s in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference title game.

Mike Pratt came around to score and Brown scored two plays later for an insurance run as the Monks hung on in the bottom of the inning and beat Suffolk University, 8-6.

The win means St. Joe’s will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament later this month.

It also marked the 500th career victory for Coach Will Sanborn.

“Sometimes as a coach you see things like (Brown’s play) coming,” said Sanborn. “Dan’s been a role player here and there was a time it looked like he’d earned a starting position. Things changed but he keeps showing up every day. He’s a guy who was due and battled to get the big hit.”

Pratt had hit a leadoff double to start the inning, his first of the day.

The next two batters struck out against Suffolk ace Alex Torres, a right hander who had entered the game in relief.

Brown, a former Deering standout, was called. He worked the count to 2-2, before getting a hold of the next pitch.

“I saw a good couple of first pitches and then saw one come in over the plate and just drove it to the gap,” said Brown. “I was only in the dugout for an inning after selling those tickets and Coach told me to take some swings. You don’t really have time to think about it. You’re put in that situation for a reason and I was fortunate.”

St. Joe’s fell behind in the fourth on a three-run homer by Suffolk slugger Stephen Schultz.

The Monks’ Todd Keneborus singled in the fifth and stretched it to a double on an error in center field. That brought in two runs to make it 3-2.

Suffolk got three more runs in the fifth when starter Mason Roberge tried to turn a double play to end the inning. He pivoted and threw into the outfield, putting runners on the corners and setting up a one-out RBI for third baseman Jake Cintolo.

Freshman Joe Gruntkosky entered the game in relief and struck out the first batter before giving up two singles, which scored two unearned runs to give Suffolk a 6-2 lead.

St. Joe’s scored three in the sixth on an RBI double by Nate Martin, and a two-RBI single by leadoff hitter Chris Campbell.

Ian Lee drove in Keneborus in the seventh to send a tie game into the scoreless eighth, then ninth.

The Monks, who have been a comeback team this season, say this is the way things have worked for them.

“We kept fighting,” said Campbell who went 4 for 5 with two RBI. “Suffolk always plays us tough but we put together good at-bats and were patiently aggressive.”

The team returned home from a Florida trip earlier this year just 2-7 and focused on getting tougher and being consistent.

They’ve gone 27-4 since then.

“They are resilient kids,” said Sanborn. “I knew if they could come back from that trip we’d be good.”

Biddeford’s Tyler Laverriere came in for the save in the ninth and sandwiched a strikeout between two hit batsmen before getting Suffolk’s cleanup hitter to ground into a double play to end the game. Suffolk was the home team because of GNAC tournament rules.

Gruntkosky got the win, giving up four hits, no runs and striking out three in 32/3 innings. 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:
jmenendez@pressherald.com