FAIRFIELD
Courtesy: Fairfield University

Stags Clinch First Round Bye With Doubleheader Split

Courtesy: Fairfield University
May 18, 2017

HAMDEN, Conn. – The Fairfield University baseball team has earned a first-round bye in next week's MAAC Tournament after securing a doubleheader split against Quinnipiac, winning the second game 6-5 after dropping the opener 4-3. That victory, combined with Canisius' loss to Niagara in their series opener earned the Stags the right to claim a top-two seed in the Championships.

Michael Conti had a hand in all three runs in the first game, starting his day with a RBI single in the second inning for the game's first run and then tied up the contest with a two-run grounder that was misplayed by the infielder.

That was the only scoring for the Stags (29-22, 16-7 MAAC), but they did have their chances. Fairfield got a base runner on in each of the final five innings, but could not get the go-ahead runner home.

Quinnipiac (18-31, 11-12 MAAC) was able to find the key hit in the bottom of the eighth inning when cleanup hitter Liam Scafariello grounded a ball past the drawn-in infield to give the Bobcats the 4-3 advantage, and later the victory.

Despite the setback, the Stags pitching continued to excel as the weather warms up. David Sacco was strong in his first-ever conference start. Josh Arnold kept the Stags in the game by throwing a career-high 3.1 innings, and only allowing two hits. One of those hits was the runner who ended up scoring in the eighth.

Those chances continued to come the Stags way in the finale, but once again they could not cash one in early. Fairfield stranded the bases loaded in back-to-back innings, leaving seven runners on through the first three frames.

Gavin Wallace retired the first seven batters he faced and got the number eight hitter to pop-up in foul territory, but the fly ball could not be caught. That allowed second life for Ben Gibson, who would double off the wall in left center. After Wallace struck out the next hitter, Andre Marrero took the 1-0 pitch the other way for a RBI double, opening the scoring of the game.

The runs started coming for the Stags in the fourth, when they scored four runs to grab a 4-1 lead. Jack Gethings had the first run-scoring hit with a chopper over the first baseman, which drove in Tim Zeng. Kevin Radziewicz would then lift a fly ball into right center where the center fielder Mike Palladino made a great diving catch, but Gethings would score from third to take the lead. Troy Scocca capped the inning with a two-run homer, his sixth of the year to give the Stags that 4-1 advantage.

After Quinnipiac scored two runs in the fourth, Ian Halpin came on in relief and would impress over the next 2.2 innings. Halpin earned his first career victory allowing one earned run during that span. Mike Bonaiuto recorded his fifth save of the season by sealing a 6-5 victory.

The Stags helped Halpin and Bonaiuto secure the victory by picking up insurance runs off a Scocca double and an RBI by Drew Arciuolo.

Fairfield has now clinched a first-round bye in next week's MAAC Championship by notching their 16th conference victory. After Marist's win at Siena, the Red Foxes now control their destiny for the regular season crown and the tournament's top overall seed. In order get a share of the regular season title, the Stags would have to win their contest against Quinnipiac tomorrow at noon. The only way for Fairfield to get the top-seed would be a victory tomorrow and a Marist loss in their doubleheader against Siena.