Following 16 consecutive games away from Poughkeepsie, Marist finally had their home opener against Fairfield. The Red Foxes were riding a four-game winning streak before the Friday afternoon matchup, which was their first conference game of the season. It was an exhilarating back and forth game, but Marist would fall short to Fairfield 13-10 in eleven innings.
Freshman Jack Bowery took the mound for Marist following back-to-back strong performances against Navy and Fordham, however a combination of poor execution on defense and Bowery not having his sharpest stuff led to his first rough outing as a Red Fox. Fairfield took an early four-run lead after the Stags strung together three consecutive hits, including a two-run home run by junior Matt Venuto.
“I don’t think that he pitched extremely well, but we did not help him out defensively,” head coach Chris Tracz said. “If we turn that double play in the first inning, it is a completely different outing.”
Despite the early deficit, the Red Foxes remained resilient. Marist struggled to take advantage of a few early opportunities, but they did not squander their chance in the third inning. Trailing 5-1, graduate student Robbie Armitage cut the Stags lead in half with a two-run double. After junior Dylan Hoy reached on an error, graduate student Donnie Stone tied the game with an infield single. That was followed by another single up the middle by graduate student Peter Dudunakis to give Marist their first lead of the game.
The momentum did not last long, with the Stags immediately regaining the lead in the top of the fourth inning after sophomore Matt Bergevin launched a moonshot to left field that put Fairfield back on top 8-6.
And just as the Stags attempted to take control of the game, Marist returned the favor with a three-run inning of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning. Redshirt freshman Gavin Noriega brought the score to within one after singling up the middle, followed by junior Ethan Farino tying the game with a bunt single. One batter later, Stone came up clutch again with an infield single to give Marist the 9-8 lead.
“It’s nine innings, so you got to play ball,” Tracz said. “If we fall behind, we can put some good at-bats together, we can score some runs, you know, we’ll keep doing that all year.”
After two tame half-innings in the fifth, the chaos returned with Fairfield jumping back on top in the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore Evan Berta hit a ball off senior Zane Kmietek’s foot that trickled into center field to tie the game at nine. Then with two outs, junior Mike Becchetti ripped a double down the line to give the Stags the 10-9 lead, though it was short-lived, as a Hoy sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning re-tied the game at ten.
Everybody was crossing the plate through the first six innings, however the pitching turned up in the final three innings to bring the game into extras. Neither team was giving ground until the top of the eleventh inning when a fielding error by graduate student Nick Cantone resulted in the Stags scoring from three-straight, two-out hits to break the ice and give Fairfield a three-run lead.
“We just didn’t play defense,” Tracz said.
Marist committed three errors during the game, along with a couple of botched double plays. Fairfield was not much better, though they made the plays they needed to, including a crucial outfield assist and a few diving catches.
“It’s 1 of 24 conference games, they all count the same and you’re not going to go undefeated,” Tracz said. “If we can just re-center ourselves, I think we’ll be fine and be a better team tomorrow for sure.”
Marist falls to 10-7 and now 0-1 in MAAC play after losing to Fairfield. The Red Foxes will play their second game of the series tomorrow at 11 a.m., as they try to bounce back against their conference rivals.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Image by Luke Sassa