LAKEWOOD, N.J. – The third-seeded Fairfield University baseball team knocked off second-seeded Siena College, 5-3, in extra innings this afternoon to advance in the winners bracket up the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship. The Stags will take on the top-seeded Canisius College on May 23 at 3pm at FirstEnergy Park.
The entire game was a back and forth battle but it took until the 12th inning for a 2-2 stalemate to be broken. In the top of the inning, Eric Fajardomade his first collegiate at-bat count, drawing a leadoff walk. Ryan Plourdefollowed with a single through the left side. Jake Salpietrothen cleared the bases with a triple to deep center to put the Stags on top 4-2. A wild pitch allowed Salpietro to score easily from third to extend the lead to 5-2.
In the bottom of the 12th, Andrew Gallaghergot the first two outs of the inning but Siena managed to load the bases. Gallagher walked in a run but Anthony DiMaurocame on in relief and got the final out of the inning to save it for the Stags.
The scoring began in the top of the fourth inning when Fairfield (32-22) got on the board. With one out, Salpietro walked while Rob LoPinto followed with a single. With two outs, Billy Zolgareached on an error to load the bases. Mac Crispinowas hit by a pitch to force in Salpietro for Stags’ first run of the day. Siena was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Siena (22-31) countered in the bottom of the fifth inning. After putting two on with one out, an error by the Stags allowed the Saints to score and tie the game. Justin Esquerra put Siena on top, 2-1, with a sacrifice fly and the Stags got out of the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Zolga led off with a double and moved over to third on a groundout by Crispino. Sal Cicconewon the battle at the plate, sending a fly ball to right field to score Zolga and tie the game, 2-2.
Fairfield threatened with one out in the top of the ninth. Jack Gianniniand Zolga both singled to get the Stags going. Siena’s Dan Swain made a sliding catch on a sinking line drive to center and was able to double off Fairfield to get out of the inning.
Sophomore starter Mike Wallace struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth but a single by Tyler Martis ended Wallace’s day. Reliever Tucker Pancierawalked Vincent Citro to put two on with two outs. Panciera was replaced to by Gallagher who promptly got Mike Allen to foul out to end the threat. Fairfield threatened in the top of the tenth. With one out, Dean Sadikreached on an error and moved over to second on a sac bunt by Alex Witkus. After intentionally walking Plourde, the Saints were able to get a groundball to get out of the inning.
In the top of the 11th, Sebastian Salvodelivered a two-out pinch hit single. Crispino followed with a single of his own to put two on. Ciccone ripped a ball down the first base line. The ball hit off the first baseman's glove, struck the umpire and the play was called dead. Ciccone, however, was awarded a single to load the bases. Reliever Matt Quintana took advantage and was able to get Sadik to fly out to end the threat.
Wallace received the no-decision in a strong outing in which he went 8.2 innings, allowing two unearned runs on 12 hits. He struck out four batters and did walk a batter. Gallagher (2-1) picked up the win, going 3.0 innings in relief, scattering one run on three hits with three strikeouts. Anthony DiMauro picked up his first save of the season after getting the final out of the game.
Zolga went 2-for-4 with a double while Plourde went 2-for-5 with a walk.