Following two close games on Saturday, Marist appeared to be in firm control of game one on Sunday, taking a commanding seven run lead early. However, a late Manhattan run nearly had the Red Foxes on the brink of collapsing, but Marist ultimately held on in a 7-5 victory. After an intense game one victory, Marist had a slightly tamer game two in a 7-2 victory to secure the sweep and take the series.
Junior pitcher Erubiel Candelario took the mound for Marist in game one and aside from a few mistake pitches, the hard throwing right-hander was on point on Sunday. Candelario proved to be a master escape artist, stranding numerous runners on base, including a critical bases loaded jam in the second inning. In a strong six and a third innings, Candelario provided Marist with a much-needed deep outing.
“He [Candelario] gave us length in that first game – he really just threw strikes and controlled sequences,” head coach Chris Tracz said.
Marist’s offense was thriving through the first four innings, with graduate student infielder and outfielder Brian Picone and redshirt senior outfielder Matt Rubayo being the main catalyst in stimulating the team’s bats. Picone, who has been punishing the baseball all season, went three-for-three, raising his batting average to a staggering .500. While Rubayo, who has been great at hitting in the clutch, drove in three critical runs, giving him 25 runs batted in for the year.
“Matty Rubayo has been great with two-out RBIs and those were big hits…Brian’s been putting good swings on the ball since he’s been back from his hamstring injury,” Tracz said. “Those two guys obviously were catalysts today.”
Marist was dominating game one for most of the way, but a dicey seventh inning had everyone on the field and on the sidelines holding their breath. With the bases loaded and the go-ahead run at first base for Manhattan, redshirt senior pitcher Will Van Beusekom closed the door in a very shaky inning and Marist ended the game with a win.
“Manhattan’s a really good offensive team and when you give them a lot of opportunities, there’s a chance that they could score,” Tracz said. “But I thought for the most part this weekend, we did a good job of controlling them.”
The Red Foxes wasted no time getting to business in game two, putting up an immediate three-spot in the first inning. Striking first was the theme of the day for Marist on Sunday, taking quick leads in both games.
“It’s been a focus, we want to win the first third and we want to be good at the beginning,” Tracz said.
Sophomore pitcher Jack Keenan started game two for the Red Foxes and pitched an absolute great game. The southpaw continued his splendid season with another stellar start, throwing six innings of two-run ball (one earned).
“He’s [Keenan] hard to hit, his balls kind of moving all over the place, he landed some good break balls and his changeup was good,” Tracz said. “Each outing has been getting better and better.”
After the offense took the early lead and Keenan maintained it through six plus, all Marist needed to do was hold that lead for three more innings. Redshirt senior pitcher Conor McNamara and junior pitcher Zane Kmietek completed the job by shutting down the Manhattan bats in an impressive three combined scoreless innings. Senior third baseman Robbie Armitage also helped the cause by adding two insurance runs in the eighth inning to extend the Marist lead, totaling four runs in game two.
Marist rebounded well from their tough series at Monmouth by taking three of four from Manhattan. They will need to continue playing at their best as they enter this final stretch of the season.
Marist will return to action Wednesday, May 12 against Sienna in a crucial two-game series.
Edited by Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics