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Pajka homers as baseball falls in season finale at St. Joe's

STANDISH, Maine -- St. Joseph's College ace Chad Rafferty held the Bates College baseball team to three hits and no walks over eight innings, and the host Monks collected 13 hits in defeating the Bobcats 10-2 in the Bobcats' season finale.

No. 11 nationally ranked St. Joseph's finished regular-season play 37-5 and will begin play in the NCAA Regionals next week. Rafferty moved to 9-0, striking out six and allowing two unearned runs, including Bates first-year Nate Pajka's seventh of the season. Pajka (Douglas, Mass.) started the day tied for first place in the NESCAC in homers.

Rafferty pitched perfect six, seventh and eighth innings before being lifted in favor of reliever Alex Valenti. Rafferty is now 20-1 lifetime and one shy of the Monks' single-season record for wins, held by Charlie Furbush, the current Seattle Mariners pitcher and brother of Bates head men's basketball coach Jon Furbush '05 and men's basketball player Will Furbush '12.

Alex Lorenc paced the SJC offense by going 4-4 with three runs, a double and an RBI.

First-year Mekae Hyde (Lewiston, Maine) hit a double; senior Mike Ciummei (Acton, Mass.) and sophomore Griff Tewksbury (Concord, N.H.) had Bates' other two hits.

With their workhorse on the mound, the Monks scored a run in the first and never relinquished the lead. St. Joe’s went on to score five in the third and two in the fifth along with single runs in the sixth and eighth frames to earn the victory.

In the bottom of the first, Dan Achorn walked and moved up to second on a Joe Coyne base hit to right field. Lorenc scored Achorn with a line-drive single through the left side.

The 1-0 edge held until the bottom of the third when Saint Joseph’s scored five runs off five hits and a Bates error to gain control of the contest. Coyne reached with a double, Mike Pratt was hit by a pitch, and Lorenc singled to load the bases for Nic Lops, who drove a single up the middle to score Coyne a bobbled ball in the outfield, a miscue that allowed Lorenc and Lops to move up to third and second, respectively. Dan Brown followed with a single to plate Lorenc and Sam Butts knocked Lops in with a base hit through the left side to make it a 5-0 game. Brown scored when the next batter, Nate Martin, reached on a fielder’s choice to cap the scoring in the third.

The Bobcats got their two runs in the fifth. Leading off the inning was sophomore Steve Burke (Bedford, N.H.), who struck out on a curveball in the dirt and sprinted all the way to second base on a throwing error by Coyne. After moving to third on an infield out, Burke scored when sophomore catcher Jeffrey Gunn (Atlanta, Ga.) grounded out to short. Pajka (Douglass, Mass.) followed with his homer, a lofting drive that was nearly caught by Lorenc at the right field wall.

The Monks responded with two runs of their own to regain the six-run advantage.

For the Monks, Coyne went 3-5 with a run and a double, Lops was 2-5 with a run and three RBI, Brown added two hits in four trips with a run and an RBI, and Martin registered three RBI in the victory.

Bates junior starting pitcher Mike Antonellis (Sudbury, Mass.) fell to 3-3 on the season after yielding six runs (five earned) off nine hits, a walk and two hit batsmen with three strikeouts over four innings. Sophomore Chris Fusco (Annapolis, Md.) allowed three runs off four hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts in two innings while relievers Dean Bonneau (Amherst, Mass.) and Michael Spinosa (Charlottesville, Va.) combined to allow one run off one hit and two walks with two K’s over two innings.

Bates finishes the year 23-17, the most games the team has ever played in a season (four more than the previous record) and the second-most victories in team history. After 137 seasons of fewer than 20 wins (most of which comprised far fewer games than in the current era), Bates has now surpassed the 20-win plateau three straight years.