FAIRFIELD, CT – With back-to-back 3-1 wins over the Fairfield Stags, the second on a two out RBI single by junior Matt Iantosca when trailing 1-0 in the last inning of the game, the Marist baseball team swept its fifth Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader and won its sixth conference series of 2017 on Sunday.
With the two wins, the Red Foxes have clinched a berth in the 2017 MAAC Championship for the second consecutive season. Marist now stands at 27-19 (14-6 MAAC) and are currently in first place in the conference.
In the first game, sophomore Frankie Gregoire led the Red Foxes offensively, picking up two hits and two runs scored. Redshirt senior Matt Pagano and freshman Patrick Lightner each finished with two hits apiece and redshirt freshman Tyler Kapuscinski picked up a hit to extend his hit streak to 16 games. Sophomore Randy Taveras and Iantosca each finished with a hit and senior Tyler Kirkpatrick had an RBI and a run scored.
Senior Sean Keenan pitched a gem, throwing seven innings while giving up just one run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Junior Mike Coss pitched two thirds of an inning, surrendering no runs on no hits and senior Ryan Thomas threw one third of an inning and gave up no runs and no hits. Junior Tony Romanelli picked up his second win of the season, pitching three scoreless innings in which he gave up just one hit and struck out three.
In Game 2, Iantosca led Marist with two hits and one RBI and Taveras chipped in three hits. Redshirt junior Greg Kocinski picked up a hit and one run scored and Gregoire and redshirt senior Matt Pagano had one run scored each.
Junior Charlie Jerla picked up his eighth win of the year, throwing a complete game while giving up just one run on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Red Foxes opened the scoring in the top of the fourth when Gregoire led off with a double down the right field line and then advanced to third on a Kocinski sacrifice bunt. After Kapuscinski was intentionally walked, Kirkpatrick followed with a fielder’s choice blooper into shallow left center that scored Gregoire with Kapuscinski out at second on the play and it was 1-0 Marist.
The Stags answered in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double, a ground out that advanced the runner to third and an RBI sacrifice fly to even the score at 1-1.
The remainder of the game proved to be a pitcher’s duel as both team’s hurlers stranded runners with key pitches and outs. Coss and Thomas combined for a scoreless eighth and Romanelli threw a scoreless ninth and tenth.
In the top of the 11th, Gregoire led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second on Kocinski’s second sac bunt of the day and two batters later, Kirkpatrick was intentionally walked. Pagano followed with an infield single to the right side and advanced to second when a throw by the first baseman sailed past the first base which allowed Gregoire and Kirkpatrick to score for the 3-1 advantage.
Romanelli came back out for the bottom of the 11th and gave up a leadoff double off the left center field fence but retired the next three batters with a ground out and back-to-back strike outs swinging to secure the 1-0 win.
Fairfield opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with back-to-back one out singles and an RBI single up the middle two batters later for the 1-0 lead.
With their last chance to tie it in the top of the seventh, the Red Foxes came to bat and Gregoire reached on an error by the third baseman. Kocinski followed with a single to the shortstop and Chris Tracz pinch hit and moved the runners to second and third with a sac bunt. Two batters later, Pagano was intentionally walked and Iantosca followed with a three RBI single to left that gave Marist the 3-1 lead.
Jerla came back out for the bottom of the seventh and retired the first two batters on back-to-back grounds outs. After a two out single, Jerla retired the next batter on a fly out to secure the 3-1 win and berth in the MAAC Championship.