After losing a long extra innings game in their home opener, Marist Baseball was victorious over Fairfield, winning 8-4 on a rainy afternoon in Poughkeepsie. The win makes the series split going into tomorrow’s finale with Fairfield Stags.
Winning pitcher Brian Yetter went 3.1 innings, letting up one earned run with four strikeouts and four walks. Yetter came in to relieve Candelairo and stay within distance of the stags after a strong start from the Marist workhorse.
Standout hitters for the Red Foxes included lefty outfielder Gavin Noriega, going 2-4 with a double, 2 runs, and an RBI. Donnie Stone and leadoff catcher Gene Napolitano fared well too, with both knocking in a run. All but 2 Marist starters had a hit in the offensively efficient game for the Red Foxes
The first third of the game started out as a pitcher’s duel, as Candelairo had a strong presence in his first game at home at McCann baseball field. While the offense went off to a slow start for Marist, Candelairo was able to limit runs, giving up three earned runs in 5.2 innings. The starter recorded a strikeout in five of his first six innings.
“We struggled landing our offspeed pitches and it was touch and go for a little bit, but the big thing was we were able to just end the game and not have to use three or four bodies,” said head coach Chris Tracz after the win.
On the Fairfield side of the mound, pitcher Jake Noviello was shutting down Marist in his start. Through his first four appearances with the stags this year, the pitcher had a shaky 8.84 ERA, but looked solid. He finished with only three earned runs through five innings of work.
Marist got their first hit in the second inning from a soft liner by Brian Hart to left center. In addition, Marist started out aggressive with their baserunning, recording steals in both the 1st and 2nd innings. Those steals created an aggressive energy for Marist out of the gate, but were unable to score with two runners on after two solid lineouts to center field.
The Red Foxes got the offense into gear in the bottom of the fourth, after a rocketing grounder by left fielder Gavin Noriega through the legs of the Fairfield shortstop, and a single liner through the right side gap by designated hitter Donnie Stone. A textbook bunt was laid down by shortstop Dylan Hoy with runners on first and third to give Marist the first run of the game, but were unable to score when Noviello finished the game with a swinging strikeout.
Fairfield was able to answer Marist’s starting attack, right fielder Zaffino hit a long winding flyball that BrianHart was unable to track down in right, resulting in the first extra-base hit of the game. Fairfield took full advantage of their quick start to the inning when second baseman Watson wasted no time in the at bat, driving in the runner with a hard hit single to left.
Although it looked like the game would suddenly swing in Fairfield’s favor, two strong defensive plays by Hoy and Justin Kapuscins kept the pitcher battle in full effect. The Red Foxes defense certainly bounced back after their game on Friday, as they let up no errors today as opposed to the three costly mistakes in their extra innings contest against Fairfield.
“We thought our approach to the game yesterday was not our typical approach for the first 16 games,” said Tracz. “We didn’t have to make many defensive plays today, but the ones we did make were clean, and we definitely made better at bats.”
Following the first run in the 4th inning, Marist’s offense was back in action as a light rain started to steadily pour in Poughkeepsie. Lincoln led off the inning with a single, and Napolitano battled for a walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd, advancing to 2nd and 3rd after a sac bunt by Reece Armitage. While Marist was looking for any opportunity to score, a wild pitch in Robbie Armitage’s first AB brought a runner in to secure the lead once again. This was followed by a rocketed liner into right for Noriega– his 2nd hit of the afternoon– which drove in Napolitano.
This lead once again was cut short by the stags, hitting to singles to the outfield and making the contest a one run game. This marked Candelairo’s exit, as he was unable to finish the job in the 6th and was replaced by reliever Brian Yetter. Yetter was unable to get a stop as fast as they wanted to, and the rain came down harder amidst Fairfield’s two out rally. With the pressure on Yetter, he closed out the inning with a strikeout and limited the growing presence of Fairfield’s offense.
“You don’t play very long in conditions like this, and it’s gonna be chilly tomorrow as well,” said Tracz when asked about the conditions in Poughkeepsie for the series.
Noviello also exited the game during the 6th for reliever Emmit Tolis, but the first out failed to be completed by Fairfield infielder Dean Ferrera after overthrowing the first baseman on a grounder by Stone. A wild pitch sent the runner to 3rd with one out, and catcher Napolitano on the situation with an rbi double to right, while Armitage hit an rbi single to bring in another, expanding the lead 5-3.
After Yetter shut down the stags offense with a solid inning of relief, the Fairfield pitching staff struggled and gave up a walk and HBP to give Marist hope for more insurance runs. What followed was an RBI single from Stone and an overthrow to the shortstop by Fairfield infielder Ferrara, allowing another run to score. Dylan Hoy’s first hit of the game went through the shortstop to make the score 8-3, where Marist clearly took over in the middle innings onward of the ballgame.
While Fairfield looked for ways to combat Marist’s eight runs in the last four innings, Fairfield designated hitter Matt Venuto sent a missile to dead center field, and while having a solid offensive day as well, center fielder Reese Armitage tracked the ball down perfectly and made an outstanding leaping grab at the wall to rob a home run.
While the game was winding down and looking more like a Marist win, it was clear that Fairfield could not find an answer in their pitching staff that was sufficient to stay in distance to Marist, expending two more relievers after Tolis. After Noviello left the game, Fairfield relief gave up 5 runs (3 unearned due to errors) that were the difference.
“We took advantage of some walks, and then we were able to start moving around a bit,” said Coach Tracz. “We had a big hit-and-run with Donnie Stone and a squeeze bunt with Hoy, but we had a couple of big hits to drive guys in and we did a good job of capitalizing when we had guys in scoring position.”
While the Red Foxes seemed to have the result in their favor, the 9th brought some life back to the stags, a walk and an RBI single gave the stags one back. Yetter was on the hunt for the finishing blow, and he executed it after a couple of looping pop-ups. Marist clearly brought their mistakes into light yesterday and completely reworked their approach to the field, as the win over Fairfield felt close in reach as soon as the fifth inning.
Marist looks to win their final game of the series with a cluster of their top pitchers available against Fairfield at 1PM at McCann Baseball Field.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Image by Luke Sassa