STANDISH — Behind a strong outing from starting pitcher Mark Fusco, top-seeded Suffolk won its fourth consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference baseball championship with a 6-5 victory over St. Joseph’s at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Sunday afternoon.

Fusco, a senior, threw 114 pitches in seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits as Suffolk earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament.

“(Fusco) is a super competitive kid. I’ve said if I had 25 guys like him, I’d probably never lose a game,” said Suffolk Coach Anthony Del Prete.

The right-handed Fusco walked one and struck out three.

“I was just trying to compete and trying to give my team the best chance to win,” said Fusco.

Trailing 6-3 in the top of the eighth, St. Joseph’s got a spark from its No. 9 hitter, Chris Gerossie. With Luke Johnson on first after a two-out walk, Gerossie deposited the first pitch he saw over the wall in left field for his fourth homer of the season.

“It’s nice to see a senior like Gerossie step up there,” St. Joseph’s Coach Will Sanborn said. “That was a big swing.”

The comeback fell short, however, as the Monks went down in order in the ninth.

The second-seeded Monks needed two wins Sunday to take the title after falling into the losers’ bracket with a loss on Thursday against Johnson & Wales. They didn’t get a chance to play a second game, though.

Suffolk (24-16) took the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a bases-loaded, two-run single by Blase Cormier that knocked out Monks starter Aaron Hall.

Jonathan Marchia relieved Hall and nearly escaped with just a 2-0 deficit, but with two outs and two strikes, Suffolk leadoff hitter Brady Chant lined a two-run single into center field.

St. Joseph’s (29-13) responded in the top of the fifth. After going hitless in their first eight at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Monks got on the board when Joey Murphy hit a ground ball through the left side to drive home Luke Johnson, who led off the inning with a double.

Murphy had a pair of hits from the top of the order.

Jacob White made it 4-2 with a run-scoring single, and two batters later, Noah McDaniel hit a ground ball up the middle for a single that scored Murphy, cutting the deficit to 4-3.

The Rams tacked on two runs in the seventh, however.

“You really have to take advantage of opportunities when you play a team like St. Joe’s. Luckily we scored one more run than they did today,” said Del Prete.

Josh Partridge was solid in relief for the Monks. The senior southpaw pitched the final 41/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out eight.

“(Partridge) has been clutch all year for us, and really over the course of his four years, so I didn’t expect anything different (today),” Sanborn said. “We would’ve liked to maybe not go to him that early, but when you’re in this situation with your back against the wall, you want your best guy out there.”

In their only prior meetings this season, Suffolk swept a home doubleheader, 8-5 and 8-6, on April 28.

St. Joseph’s and Suffolk have owned the conference in recent years. Prior to Suffolk’s four-year title run, St. Joseph’s defeated Suffolk in the GNAC championship game five straight years from 2010-14.

“The seniors (my freshman year), let us know how big of a rivalry this was for them, and losing on this field five years ago to this same team never left me,” said Fusco. “I brought that with me today and I did it for those (seniors). Today was somewhat for those guys.”

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