CANTON – Facing a long day of baseball in less than ideal weather conditions, along with having to start a suspended game in the top of the fifth while playing a originally scheduled doubleheader, the Vassar College responded by taking two of the three games to clinch a spot in the Liberty League Tournament.
VC took the suspended game from Saturday 7-0, defeating St. Lawrence University 1-0 in the second game and closing the regular season with a 7-5 loss to the Saints from Tom Fay Field. With the two victories, the Brewers (19-17) earned just their third-ever appearance in the Liberty League Tournament and the first since the 2014 season. The 19 wins also tied for the most in program history, matching the 2014 and 2003 seasons.
Suspended Game: Vassar 7, St. Lawrence 0
The Vassar College baseball team picked up where they left off in the day’s first action Sunday, continuing a suspended game in the top of the fifth with one out and a 5-0 lead. Nearly a day after the game was halted, Vassar continued the inning with two more runs as Taylor Smach opened the day with a double to score Bobby Kinne, followed by a run-scoring error by SLU.
That was plenty, as sophomore Joe Conti came on and was lights out over the final three innings, allowing just three hits while throwing 37 pitches to clinch the tournament spot for the Brewers. Conti was in relief of senior Adam Erkis, who tossed 49 pitches Saturday, surrendering no runs and just one walk to earn the win. Erkis picked up his 15th career win, which ties for the most ever at Vassar.
Smach finished the contest 2-for-3 with a RBI and run scored, while senior Denis Shanagher was 1-for-3 with his second homer of the season. Freshman Evan Trausch kept his hit streak going with a double, earning a knock in his 10th straight contest while Kinne upped his hit streak to six contests. Senior Mike Koscielniak also posted two of Vassar’s five stolen bases in the game, as Smach, Kinne and Matt Hernandez each stole a bag.
Game 1: Vassar 1, St. Lawrence 0
The Brewer pitching stifled the Saint bats in the first scheduled game of the day, scattering seven hits while Matt Martino hit his first homer for the deciding difference in the pitcher’s duel. Both Sam Downes and Conti were virtually unhittable through the opening four innings, matching each other pitch for pitch.
St. Lawrence put runners on the second and third in the fifth inning, but Conti was able to get a called third strike to get out of the jam. VC threatened as well in the bottom half of the fifth with two runners aboard, but Downes induced a fly ball with two outs to retire the side. In the sixth, Martino came to the plate with one out and hammered a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall for his first homer as a Brewer. In the seventh, the Saints had first and third with one out as Bryan Rubin came on for Vassar. Rubin got a strikeout for the second out, but walked a batter to load the bases. Rubin wouldn’t be deterred, as she earned the save with a swinging strikeout to earn the victory for VC.
Junior backstop Chris Lee posted two hits in two at-bats in game two, while Kinne and Trausch each added singles as well for Vassar, which totaled five hits. Conti worked the first five innings, before being relieved by freshman Max Spencer in the sixth inning. Spencer allowed two hits and no runs to get the win, and Rubin gave up a hit and fanned two.
Game 2: St. Lawrence 7, Vassar 5
The host Saints scored two runs in the top of the first, two in the third and three in the fifth to pull away, earning the final contest of the regular season for both teams.
Playing as the visitors, St. Lawrence opened the contest with two in the top of the first, getting RBI singles from Anthony Butler and Mic Regan. Vassar trimmed the lead with one in the bottom half of the frame, as Eric Strickland raced home on a wild pitch after walking to start the inning but stranded two. The Brewers would leave three on base in the second inning as well.
SLU plated a pair of runs in the third to make the score 4-1, but the Brewers tacked on another in the bottom half of the fourth on a Daniel Bonfiglio single to score senior Brad Kendall. The Saints made the game 7-2 in the fifth, but Vassar came right back with two runs as Connor Levchuck doubled in a run and was scored by a single from sophomore Alex Hartnett.
Vassar made the score 7-5 in the sixth inning on a Matt Schwartz single, but that would be all the Brewers would get, as the 12 runners left on base doomed the Brewers. Trausch upped his hit streak to 12 games with a 2-for-2 day with a pair of doubles, while Kendall was 2-for-2 with a double. Schwartz was also 2-for-4 with a RBI and run scored. Trausch finished
Freshman starter Jake Silver allowed four runs in three innings, striking out three Saint batters. Junior John Madsen retired all six batters he faced, while senior reliever Robert Winkelmann also worked a perfect inning for the Brewers.