MERION STATION, Pa. – Saint Joseph’s senior Kyle Mullen (Berwyn, Pa./St. Joseph’s Prep) set a new school record for wins in a career and junior Jimmy Yacabonis (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) notched his single-season record eighth save of the season as the SJU baseball team topped Xavier, 2-1, at Smithson Field on Friday afternoon.
Mullen notched the 20th win of his career, breaking a tie with Jed Johnson, who won 19 games between 1993 and 1996. He also broke the Saint Joseph’s record for innings pitched in a career, surpassing the 305.2 of Randy Mower, who pitched for the Hawks from 2007 to 2010.
Mullen, also the program’s all-time leader in strikeouts, is the second Hawk to eclipse the 200-strikeout mark for his career and the second Hawk to toss over 300 innings. However, he is the first SJU pitcher to have eclipsed both marks in his career.
The senior fanned 10 on Friday, allowing one run on five hits and three walks in seven innings. Steven Schuler pitched a scoreless eighth before Yacabonis came on to lock down his record-breaking save.
The junior righthander surpassed the previous mark of seven set by Kevin Kirkby in 2001. Kirkby is the program’s all-time leader with 12 career saves; Yacabonis has now tied Chuck Malloy for second on the career list.
In a classic pitcher’s duel, Saint Joseph’s (24-20 overall, 10-6 Atlantic 10) finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth to take a 2-0 lead. Lansing Veeder led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a single up the middle by Anthony Cirillo. Xavier pitcher Jon Richard then attempted to pick Veeder off of second base but made an errant throw, allowing both runners to advance.
With runners on second and third and nobody out, Quinn Renner lofted a deep fly to center for a sacrifice fly to score the game’s first run. Collin Forgey followed with an RBI single to double the margin.
Xavier (23-20 overall, 10-6 Atlantic 10) got one back in the top of the sixth as Vinny Nittoli hit his third home run of the year over the fence in left field to cut the lead in half.
The Musketeers threatened in the eighth, putting two on with one out, but Schuler struck out Jake Forrester induced a popup from Daniel Rizzie to end the inning.
Yacabonis pitched a one-two-three ninth thanks to some outstanding defense from Cirillo, who fielded consecutive grounders deep in the hole off the bats of Derek Hasenbeck and Selby Chidemo before Mark Elwell grounded out to Renner at second to end the ballgame.
Mullen improved to 7-3 on the season with the win. He is now one win shy of the single-season record held by Johnson (1995) and John Butz (1965).
Richard took the loss, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits in seven innings to fall to 7-3. He walked five and struck out three.
The teams will play the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2:00 p.m. at Smithson Field. Saturday is Alumni and Family Day at the ballpark; in addition, the “Hawks for Margo” foundation will be at Smithson Field collecting donations and spreading awareness in the battle against cervical cancer.