Baseball Downs Quinnipiac 12-8 to Clinch MAAC Championship Berth
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield University baseball team scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to overtake Quinnipiac University, 12-8, this afternoon. With the win, the Stags not only tied the program record for victories but clinched a berth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship Tournament. Fairfield stands at 27-19 overall and 12-6 in league play.
Fairfield had 15 hits on the day with six different Stags posting multi-hit efforts. Junior Sebastian Salvo went 2-for-5 with three runs batted in while Billy Zolga went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. Junior Dean Sadik went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored while Jake Salpietro went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, two runs scored, and one driven in. Rookie Mac Crispino went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored while Sal Ciccone went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored.
The Stags started their offense early, putting up three runs in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Rob LoPinto singled, moved over to second on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by Ryan Plourde. Salpietro followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Plourde then scored on an RBI groundout by Brendan Tracy. Salvo hit a bloop single to center which allowed Salpietro to trot home and make it 3-0.
Starter EJ Ashworth, meanwhile, had a perfect game through 4.2 innings with five strikeouts. With two outs in the fifth, Quinnpiac’s Ryan Nelson drew a walk to end the perfect game. Mike Blumenthal followed with an RBI double to center to break-up the no-hitter and push the Bobcats’ first run of the day across the plate. Brian Ruditys made it 3-2 with an RBI single to center.
Fairfield got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning as LoPinto scored on an error. Quinnipiac answered in the top of the sixth on a two-out triple by Nelson which plated two runs and tied the game 4-4. The Stags responded in the bottom of the sixth as Zolga hit a two-out homer to left field to return the lead to the Stags.
Quinnipiac chased Ashworth in the top of the seventh, scoring twice to take a 6-5 advantage. The Stags tied it up in the bottom half of the inning. With runners on first and third and two outs, Crispino delivered a pinch hit single to score Sadik to knot the game at 6-6. The Bobcats countered in the top of the eighth inning with a sacrifice fly by Ruditys to go ahead, 7-6.
Fairfield never backed down and broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out, Ciccone singled while Alex Witkus put down a perfect bunt for a base hit. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch while Sadik walked to load the bases. LoPinto tied it, 7-7, with a sacrifice fly. After intentionally walking Plourde to load the bases with two outs, Salpietro drew a walk to force in the go-ahead run. Crispino followed with an infield single to drive in a run while Salvo sliced one through the right side of the infield, driving in two runs for the 11-7 advantage. Zolga made it 12-7 with an RBI single. Despite two ensuing errors on a failed pickoff and a dropped foul ball, Quinnipiac was able to get out of the inning.
The Bobcats manufactured a run in the top of the ninth, but Andrew Gallagher was able to close it out for the Stags.
Ashworth received the no-decision after going 6.1 innings, allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits while striking out six batters. Tucker Panciera (6-2) picked up the win, going 1.1 innings of relief. Joseph Scaglione (1-4) took the loss, allowing five runs on three hits and three walks in an inning of relief.
The second game of Saturday’s doubleheader was postponed. The two teams will resume action tomorrow with a doubleheader beginning at 12pm on Alumni Diamond.