ST. LOUIS, MO – The George Mason baseball team scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat Saint Joseph’s 5-4 in the second round of the 2014 Atlantic 10 baseball Championship on Thursday afternoon.
The Patriots trailed on three separate occasions in the second, fourth and sixth innings before scoring what would be the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to advance to the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship. Mason will play VCU on Friday, May 23 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time for a chance to play in the championship game on Saturday.
Junior John Williams made his 10th start of the season for the Patriots and earned his fifth win, throwing seven inning and allowing three runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He was relieved by Taylor Hunt, who pitched the final two innings for his first save of 2014.
Mason trailed early for the second consecutive game in a contest that saw a tie ballgame on three separate occasions. The Hawks grabbed the 1-0 lead in the top of the second on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and no outs, however Williams would get out of the jam without any further damage.
The Patriots tied up the game for the first time in the bottom of the inning on Anthony Montefusco’s first homerun of the season over the left field fence, coming off of A-10 Pitcher of the Year Jordan Carter. Carter would leave the game after five and one-third innings, allowing four runs on eight hits in his fourth loss of the year.
The Hawks retook the lead in the top of the fourth when Taylor Boyd singled into center field and Luke Willis was unable to field the ball cleanly, allowing Mike Muha to score for the 2-1 advantage. Boyd ended his day 3-3 at the plate with the lone RBI.
The score was tied for the second time in the bottom of the fifth when Blaise Fernandez and Luke Willis teamed up on a hit-and-run attempt. After reaching base with a single through the left side with one out, Willis broke for second before Fernandez hit a ball into the left center gap to score Willis on his 21st double of the season.
The final lead of the day for Saint Joseph’s came in the top of the next inning when Chris Hueth singled off of Williams for a 3-2 lead. The Patriots would respond quickly, putting up two in the bottom half of the frame for their first lead of the game. Ray Toto hit a one-out single to score Chris Cook and tie the game and Willis hit a sacrifice fly that scored Josh Leemhuis to put Mason up 4-3.
The game winning run in the bottom of the eighth. Toto led off the frame with a walk, moved to second on a Mick Foley sacrifice bunt and to third on Willis’ third single of the day. Brandon Gum hit the fly ball off of Matt Morella for the 5-3 lead heading into the ninth.
With men on first and third and one out, Hunt was able to get Stefan Kancylarz swinging for the second out before Kevin Kartochwill had his second hit of the day to cut Mason’s lead to one run. After hitting the next batter, Hunt was able to force John Brue to popup to Gum and end the game.
Free live video of Friday’s semifinal game will be available at the Tournament Central page and live audio will be available at GoMason.com. For an updated tournament bracket, click here.