FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield University baseball team dropped a pair of 3-1 decisions to the Marist Red Foxes, with the deciding runs in both games coming in their final at-bats. With the losses, the Stags now drop into a tie with Marist for the top spot in the conference.
In the first game, Marist (26-20, 14-6 MAAC) got on the board with a run in the fourth, but the Stags (27-20, 14-6 MAAC) were quick to respond by notching the game-tying RBI in their half of the fourth. Troy Scocca led off the frame with a double to right and after advancing to third on a groundout, he would later score on a sacrifice fly from Mitch Williams.
The Stags were held to only two hits the rest of the way off Marist's starting pitcher Sean Keenan and a trio of relievers. Fairfield still had a couple of chances to find a coveted run, placing a runner in scoring position in three of the final six innings. Their best chance came in the fifth with runners on the corners and one out. The Stags tried to put down a bunt, but the bunt went straight to the pitcher Keenan who was able to recover and throw out the go-ahead run at the plate. Fairfield also put a runner at second in the seventh and eighth innings.
On the pitching side, two seniors were able to silence the Marist bats as Kyle Dube and Mike Bonaiuto combined to allow nine hits in the 11 innings of the game. Dube struck out six hitters in his 7.2 innings as he continued his fine stretch of pitching. Dube was replaced by Bonaiuto, who pitched arguably his best game of the year by throwing the final 3.1 innings.
The difference of the game came in the 11th as Marist took advantage of a two-out rally, the first of two for the visiting side tonight. With two outs and runners at first and second, Matt Pagano hit a ground ball to the right side where the first baseman was able to range to his right to cut the ball off. However, the off-balanced throw from the fielder went pass the pitcher trying to cover, allowing both base runners to score on the error.
In the nightcap, it looked like one lone run would do it for the Stags as Gavin Wallace cruised through the first six innings, surrendering just four Red Foxes hits. The junior right hander faced the minimum through the first four innings, before an error allowed Marist to strand a runner in the fifth.
Defense, however, is what kept the Stags in the lead, especially with the play of right fielder Dan Hopkins. To start that fifth frame, Hopkins made a great running catch steps in front of the right center field wall, before crashing into the fence but still holding on for the out. Hopkins also preserved a run in the sixth as he threw out the potential tying run at the plate for the second out. Wallace would get out of that inning by getting his sixth strikeout.
The good luck for the Stags changed in the seventh, and so did the weather. With the rain pouring down and the wind zipping on the field, Wallace found himself in the biggest jam of the night with the bases loaded and one out. Wallace would strike out Tyler Kirkpatrick for the second out of the frame, but Marist found a way to rally again. This time, Matt Iantosca lined a ball to left field that just hit off the fielder's glove on a slide and the ball bounced away. All three runners were able to score, to turn a 1-0 Stag lead into a 3-1 defeat.
The Stags will look to salvage the finale of the three-game series on Monday at noon.