FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield University baseball team picked up their first win in their newly renovated ballpark and came within a foot of maybe recording a sweep, as they took the first contest 7-3 and fell in a close 4-3 decision in the finale. Troy Scoccaled the Stags with three hits in the opening victory while Hartford third baseman TJ Ward was the hero in the nightcap, getting the final out of the game on a diving stop, which prevented the tying run from scoring.
The Stags (8-13) were forced to mount a comeback in the opener after Hartford (5-13) scored three times in the second inning. Fairfield would get one of those tallies back in the same frame on a Mitch WilliamsRBI single.
Scocca continued the comeback trend with a solo shot into right, his second home run of the spring. Fairfield tied the game on a Tim ZengRBI single in the fifth and grabbed the lead with a Jack Gethingsrun scoring single.
The Stags then relied on their pitching to hold the lead, and the staff stood up for the challenge. After allowing three runs in the second inning, John Signoreretired 10-straight batters into the sixth inning.
After Signore left the game in the seventh, freshman Ian Halpinfound himself with the bases loaded and facing the Hartford catcher Erik Ostberg, who entered the contest tied for the national lead in batting average and second in slugging percentage. With the drama building, Halpin got the Hawks slugger swinging to strand the bases loaded.
Fairfield used that momentum by scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth, all on the same play. With the bases loaded, Michael Contilined a single into center field that got by the center fielder, allowing all three runs to score. That play broke the game open and gave the Stags a 7-3 advantage.
Fairfield came within a foot of finding more magic in front of their home fans in the second game. After trailing 4-1 entering the ninth, Conti lined another big hit, this one going down the right field line, plating two runs.
The Hartford third baseman TJ Ward would then make two plays that saved the game for Hartford. With Conti at second, the pitch went in the dirt and bounced away from the Hartford catcher. Running down the first baseline, the catcher picked up the errant pitch and rifled an off balanced throw to third to try and get Conti. The ball sailed to the right of the bag, forcing Ward to lean over and save the ball from getting by him.
The biggest play of the game, however, came with two outs in the ninth. Dan Hopkinschopped a ball near the left side of the infield. Ward, in on the grass, ranged to his left and fully extended for the ground ball, which he was able to glove and get Hopkins at first to end the game.
The Hawks biggest inning came in the fourth when Ben Bengtson and Ashton Bardzell led off the frame with back-to-back home runs. Hartford also plated what proved to be the game-winning run in the ninth on a Bengtson RBI single.
Scocca led the Stags with four hits on the day with Gethings following him with three base knocks.
The Stags and the Hawks will conclude their three-game series on Monday at Hartford at 3pm.