About 20 feet. That’s how close Marist’s baseball team came to more late game heroics. On a warmer day or with the wind blowing out, Frankie Gregoire’s deep shot to right center could have carried over the wall for a game tying home run in the ninth inning.
The Red Foxes have made a habit out of hitting walk offs this year, racking up five of them including the second of two victories yesterday against the Fairfield Stags. Marist turned to sophomore pitcher Connor McNamara to complete the weekend sweep of Fairfield on Sunday, but the Stags came out with an aggressive approach.
Fairfield immediately jumped on top of Marist with three quick runs thanks to a couple of doubles from Kevin Radziewicz and Drew Blake. With an early lead, sophomore pitcher Austin Pope went to work on the Red Foxes, keeping Marist’s offense completely dormant until the fifth inning.
The Stags had taken a firm grip on the game with a 5-0 advantage when shortstop Randy Taveras dug into the plate to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Taveras popped the first pitch he saw into foul territory down the right field line. Neither first baseman Ian Halpin or right fielder Dan Ryan, who had shifted way off the line, were able to track it down, so Taveras’ at bat continued.
He capitalized on the fortunate break by crushing the next pitch into the trees behind the left field wall for Marist’s first run. Having finally gotten to Pope, the Red Foxes made a concerted effort to disrupt the rhythm he had established. At-bats became longer as Marist batters took more pitches and called time more frequently.
Both Marist and Fairfield tacked on two runs each in the sixth, making the score 7-3. Nick Cantone was called on to pitch the seventh for the Red Foxes, and he mowed down the Stags with three scoreless innings to keep Marist’s comeback hopes alive.
The Red Foxes rally did not start until Reece Armitage reached first on an error by Fairfield second baseman Tom Ryan to lead off the bottom of the ninth. A pop out followed by a walk set up Andrew Rouse with runners on first and second and one out. He was able to line a single over the second baseman’s head scoring a run and advancing a runner to third. It also brought the tying run to the plate.
Fairfield pitcher David Sacca struck out the next batter, bringing the game down to its final out. Designated hitter Tyler Kapuscinski slapped the first fastball he saw in between the first and second basemen for a clutch hit that made the score 7-5. It also brought Gregoire up to the plate as the potential game winning run.
Gregoire ranks second on the team with four home runs this season and was looking to turn around his rough game offensively. The fourth pitch of the at bat gave him this chance. He launched a towering drive to right center that brought everyone to their feet, but Drew Arciuolo retreated from his position in center field and tracked down the fly ball just shy of the wall.
This is just Marist’s second loss at home this season, so they will look to jump back in the win column and improve on their 10-5 MAAC record on Wednesday when Holy Cross comes to town.