Baseball takes down Saint Joseph’s in second straight-conference series win

The University of Rhode Island baseball team had an up-and-down week, extending their season-long win streak to five games and securing a series win against Saint Joseph’s University before dropping the series finale and a midweek game against Bryant University.

In game one against Saint Joseph’s on Friday, both teams came out of the gates hot offensively at Bill Beck Field. After the Hawks took a 1-0 lead, Rhode Island wasted no time tying the game on a lead-off home run by third-year infielder Anthony Depino. This was Depino’s team-leading ninth home run of the season and his third straight game with a homer.

The Hawks got two more runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead, but first-year pitcher AJ Jones was able to settle down and put up zeroes from there. Jones was making just his second start of the season and ended up going six innings, allowing three runs and striking out five.

“AJ did a great job because it was supposed to be [second-year] Evan Maloney, but he couldn’t pitch this weekend,” URI Head Coach Raphael Cerrato said. “AJ picked us up and was phenomenal.”

The middle innings of game one was when the home run parade began for the Rams. Fifth-year infielder DJ Perron tied the game with a two-run home run in the third, third-year outfielder Eric Genther gave them the lead with a home run in the fourth and second-year outfielder Will Hindle added another one in the fifth to extend the lead to 5-3. This marked the first time URI has hit four home runs in a game all season, and Hindle’s was the first of his collegiate career.

After fifth-year catcher Michael Borrelli added an insurance run with a run-scoring double in the seventh inning, second-year pitcher Jeremy Urena slammed the door with three shutout innings and closed out a 6-3 game one win for the Rams.

The offense for URI stayed hot in game two on Saturday as they jumped out right away to a 4-0 lead. All four of these runs were driven in by second-year infielder Michael Anderson, who had a two-run double in the first inning and then a two-run home run in the third.

“I can’t do this without my teammates, both of them got on before me,” Anderson said. “I just put a good swing on a ball and it worked out in our favor.”

From here, fifth-year pitcher Sean Sposato controlled the story of this game on the mound for the Rams. He retired the first 12 batters of the game and didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning. All together, he put together a line of seven scoreless innings where he allowed just three hits and struck out seven.

“[Our] guys have to step up and they did this weekend,” Cerrato said. “Sean had one of the best outings of his career.”

Saint Joseph’s threatened in the top of the ninth, bringing the tying run to the on-deck circle, but third-year pitcher Kenny Heon locked it down and closed out a 7-2 win. This stretched the URI winning streak to five games and gave them their second consecutive conference series victory.

“We’re always happy with winning a series,” Cerrato said. “That’s what we have to do to get to the postseason.”

The Rams were looking for their first sweep of the season on Sunday, however the Hawks had different plans as they took advantage of four walks in the second inning to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

Rhode Island had plenty of chances in the latter half of this game as they had two runners in scoring position with less than two outs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. However, they were only able to scratch across two runs with these opportunities and allowed the Hawks to pull away with seven runs across the final two innings to make it 11-3.

“I thought we had a lot of good at bats, we competed well, we had baserunners,” Cerrato said. “But, it’s a completely different story when you give up seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings.”

Fifth-year pitcher Alec Rodriguez got the final 11 outs of the game for Saint Joseph’s to give them an 11-3 win, salvaging the series finale. Despite the loss, Anderson spoke about how they were still satisfied with the weekend and looked to quickly put this one behind them.

“We’ve been playing too well to let one game affect us,” Anderson said. “Just going to wake up the next morning, ready to play.”

Following this series, Rhode Island traveled to Bryant for a midweek matchup that turned out to be a high scoring, back-and-forth affair. After the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the first inning, the Rams scored five unanswered runs. The early onslaught was led by Depino, who went 2-2 with a triple and home run, to take a 7-3 lead.

The game flipped on its head with one swing of the bat from fourth-year outfielder Matt Smith, who hit a game-tying grand slam for Bryant in the seventh inning. The Bulldogs took the lead an inning later on a home run by fourth-year infielder Carmine Petosa and were able to hold on from there for an 8-7 victory.

Up next, URI will look to get their third straight conference series win when they travel to take on George Washington University this weekend. The first game of the series will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday and will be streamed on ESPN+.