The threat of rain could not stop the Marist baseball team from their third straight win. While once a blowout, the midweek matchup between the Marist Red Foxes and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell came down to the wire.
Early on, Marist took control as junior second baseman Anthony Lazar drilled a fastball of the wall in left center field to start the bottom of the third. Andrew Rouse followed with a line drive over the shortstop to drive in Lazar on the next pitch and gave Marist a 2-1 advantage. The same inning, right fielder Jordan Roper hit another line drive single to left that brought home Rouse and granted Marist a three run lead.
The bottom of the fifth saw three different pitchers for the River Hawks who had pitched in a combined 6 innings this season. The inexperience was on full display as one run was walked in, and another scored on a wild pitch. Lazar would add on with a sacrifice fly that pushed the score to 8-1 in favor of the Red Foxes, but the game was far from over.
In the top of the sixth, the first three River Hawks batters reached base and trimmed the deficit to six when junior Steve Passatempo stepped up to the plate. Passatempo would look at two pitches before he hit a three-run homerun that landed high up in the trees behind the left field fence. The River Hawks now trailed by just three and would make the score 8-6 by scoring on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh.
“Today, I didn’t think we pitched overly great,” said Coach Chris Tracz, “But we didn’t walk [many] guys and didn’t give anything away defensively.”
The Red Foxes had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the seventh after Lazar hit a two-out double to left center, his second double of the game. Rouse nearly drove in Lazar for the second time with a fly ball to right field, but it landed in foul territory by a matter of feet.
The count was now 3-2.
Just before the deciding pitch was thrown, the home plate umpire called time and removed his mask. He proceeded to dry heave on the field three times, leading both coaches to jog onto the field. A brief conversation and a sip of water was all he needed apparently, as the game was back under way within five minutes.
While the umpire managed to keep his lunch, Marist was unable to add to its lead, and the inning ended shortly thereafter.
For the third straight game, senior closer Mike Coss took the hill in the ninth. After a first pitch out to start the inning, two River Hawks batters again put the struggling Coss in hot water, managing back-to-back ground ball singles to allow the go-ahead run to step to the plate. Of course, it was none other than Passatempo who stepped into the plate looking to add on to the three run homer he had earlier.
He proved to be the thorn in the side of the Red Foxes once again as he drove in a run with a base hit and made the score 8-7. A quick fly out to right brought the River Hawks’ last chance to the plate with the tying run on second base. Coss used four pitches to dispatch the batter and end any comeback hopes for the River Hawks.
“This one we had the lead, and then we were just kind of able to give up one less than we had,” Tracz said.
Marist travels to Loudonville, N.Y. this weekend to take on Sienna in a three game series.