FAIRFIELD, Conn. – All game long the Fairfield University baseball team was looking for that key hit. They to wait nearly eight innings, but finally came across with two key hits late in the game to bring the late inning magic back to Alumni Diamond. Drew Arciuolo singled in the game-tying run with two outs in the ninth inning and freshman Dan Ryan chopped the ball over a drawn-in infield in the tenth to give the Stags their first walk-off victory of the season, defeating Marist 5-4.
“That was awesome. That's all I was thinking,” the freshman hero of the Stags, Dan Ryan said. “It was an honor to do that for our seniors especially after the way yesterday ended. It's an honor for me to help them and have their last game on this field be a win.”
Coincidentally, this is the second-straight season that the Stags (28-20, 15-6 MAAC) won their final regular season home game in walk-off fashion. Last season, senior Brendan Tracy clinched the MAAC regular season title with a ninth inning grand slam. While this year's victory might not have the same story telling impact, it's safe to say that the Stags saved their most exciting performance for last.
Trailing 4-3 since the fifth inning, the Stags kept trying to mount the comeback, but ended up falling just short in every frame. Heading into the ninth inning, the Stags had stranded a season-high 17 runners on base. After Marist got the first two outs in the frame, Tyler Gambardella started what would be the game-tying rally. The sophomore singled the other way and Jack Gethings followed with a single up the middle, which put Gambardella at third. Arciuolo would follow with the game-tying hit the other way to put Fairfield back even at 4-4.
“We didn't give up,” Head Coach Bill Currier said. “We just kept getting hits. No doubles, just kept the line moving.”
Offense was not the only aspect that kept the Stags even as they also made some big time plays in the field. With the potential go-ahead run at second, Matt Iantosca chopped a ball that hit off the pitcher's glove and found it's way to the shortstop position. Michael Conti chased down the ball and was able to throw out the runner at home for the final out of the tenth.
In the final frame, Troy Scocca led off with a single and was moved over into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Mac Crispino. After Scocca advanced to third on a wild pitch, Marist issued back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases for the freshman Ryan. With the infield drawn in, Ryan chopped a 1-1 pitch into the ground that bounced over the leaping shortstop, allowing the game-winning run to score and start the celebration.
“The number one thing I was thinking was I have to hit the ball hard somewhere,” Ryan said “If you put the ball in play you never know what can happen and that was a perfect example.”
Gethings and Scocca led five different Stag players with multi-hit games as the pair both tallied three hits.
With the victory, the Stags reclaim sole possession of first place with their 15-6 conference mark, with three more games against Quinnipiac left on their MAAC slate. Before that series starts, the Stags will travel to UMass for their final non-conference game of the season against the Minutemen on Tuesday at 2pm.