POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.—Matt Rubayo slid into home in the bottom of the 11th inning, beating catcher Drew Holtgrieve’s tag and capping off the Red Foxes’ second walk off victory this year.
Coach Chris Tracz faced a tough decision in the top of the first inning in Marist’s extra-inning victory against University of Hartford on Wednesday. Marist’s starting pitcher Spencer Bunting struggled mightily to hit his marks, giving up two runs, while hitting three batters in the process without recording an out. Tracz had a long mound visit with his senior pitcher, deciding to pull the plug on Bunting before he was able to record an out.
Tracz called on freshman Trevor Backman in relief to try to salvage the first inning. The early pitching move worked out well, as the hard throwing lefty was able to strand all three of Hartford’s runners on base, recording a strikeout and two pop ups to lead the Foxes out of the first with their tails between their legs.
Backman was able to keep Marist in the game early on, tossing four and two-thirds innings of one-run ball. The freshman received high praise from teammates before the beginning of the season, and it seems that he is finally adjusted to Division I lineups after a few shaky outings to start the year.
Hartford’s 2-0 lead did not last long, in the bottom half of the first, the Red Foxes were able to respond, starting with the leadoff hitter Gene Napolitano beating out an infield single down the third base line. Andrew Rouse followed with a single to left, followed by consecutive sacrifice flies to tie the team at 2.
Hartford’s starter James Judenis stopped the bleeding, giving the Hawks five innings, allowing only three runs off three hits.
In the fifth, Backman threw three consecutive wild pitches to start the inning, resulting in a leadoff walk. Another wild pitch advancing runners to second and third base had Tracz out of the dugout again, calling in Will Van Beusekom to replace Backman, to get the final out of the fifth. The 6-foot-6-inch pitcher did his job, getting the last out of the fifth and leaving two men on.
In the bottom of the fifth, Marist’s Matt Rubayo tied the game at three with a solo shot aided by the heavy wind to left field. It was Rubayo’s second homer of the season. Grassatt was able to finish out the inning with the game tied at 3 in the fifth.
The Red Foxes’ version of Shohei Ohtani, Nick Cantone came in to pitch in the seventh, after playing center field for Marist last weekend against Richmond. Cantone pitched two and two-thirds scoreless innings, striking out three.
With the Red Foxes’ down 4-3 in the eighth, Tyler Kapuscinski slapped a double to left to kickoff the inning. This was followed by consecutive walks from Anthony Lazar and Frankie Gregoire. Randy Taveras drove in Kapuscinski from third with a deep fly ball to center field to tie the game.
With a runner on first and third, the umpire made a controversial call, Jordan Roper was not awarded a base after being hit by a pitch because the umpire said that he did not make an attempt to avoid the pitch. According to the NCAA baseball rulebook Rule 8-2-d says, “A batter may not make a movement to intentionally get hit by the pitch and must avoid being hit whenever possible.”
Seemingly frustrated with the inconsistency of how this rule is called, Coach Tracz came out to argue. The loudspeaker music drowned out the skipper’s colorful language, passionately debating with the umpire. Later in the at bat Lazar popped out to second. Rubayo then flew out to center field leaving two runners stranded in the eighth.
As the game went to extras, Marist closer Mike Coss pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four batters swinging. In the bottom of the 11th, Rubayo was able to reach base off of an error made by shortstop Olson Jackson. Matt Iantosca followed with a walk. A wild pitch moved Rubayo to third. Andrew Rouse hit a comebacker to the pitcher, who threw to first, while Rubayo sprinted home, beating the throw from first to win the game for the Red Foxes 5-4.
Following the victory, Marist’s record improves to 11-14 for the season. In addition, Marist is now 4-1 playing at home this year. Marist hopes to continue their success at McCann field this weekend with a three game series against Niagara starting on Saturday.