Marist and Quinnipiac had a twin bill Sunday after torrential rain postponed Saturday’s game. Despite the weather fluctuating between sun, rain and hail, Marist prevailed in the first game of the day with a 7-3 victory.
For the Red Foxes, senior Erubiel Candelario was on the bump. The horse of this pitching staff was throwing absolute gas, with the emphatic pop of the catchers’ glove radiating throughout the playing area after each pitch. Candelario struck out a season-high 10 batters in 6⅔ innings of work.
“That’s back-to-back really great starts for him after pitching really well at Siena,” head coach Chris Tracz said.
Attacking early has defined Marists’ offensive approach of late. Back-to-back doubles by graduate students Gene Napolitano and Reece Armitage to lead off the game gave the Red Foxes the early lead.
The Bobcats responded with a run apiece in the second and third innings to give them the temporary lead, but a powerful third inning in which Marist had three extra-base hits, put the Red Foxes back up front.
Napolitano has had an incredible season, leading the MAAC in batting average with .416. His prowess at the plate continued in game one, completing three legs of the cycle, including a home run to right-center field in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at two.
“It’s been special. He threw out three runners this weekend, really neutralized them to an extent defensively. He called every pitch, drove in a lot of runs and had a ton of hits,” Tracz said. “He’s been our MVP so far. It’s not even close.”
A Reece Armitage single, followed by doubles from graduate student Robbie Armitage and senior Brian Hart, gave Marist a 4-2 lead they would never relinquish.
Quinnipiac would bring the game to within one run in the top of the fifth, but a run-scoring triple by Hart in the bottom half of the inning and two additional insurance runs in the sixth inning increased the Red Foxes’ lead to four.
Graduate student Nick Cantone relieved Candelario for the final 2⅓ innings. The frontline relievers battled the hail while closing the door with a scoreless outing, which included a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Even with the temperature dropping and one game already in the books, it did not prevent the Red Foxes from coming out hot again in game three of the series. Marist would complete the sweep of Quinnipiac, winning 17-5 in seven innings due to the NCAA 10-run mercy rule after seven innings.
In each of Marists’ four previous games, either Robbie or Reece Armitage has driven the first run of the game in. They are the dynamic brotherly duo that ensures this offense always starts out strong. In the second game of the doubleheader, Robbie continued this trend, blasting a bomb to left field for his third home run of the season. This hit helped catapult a three-run first inning for the Red Foxes to jump-start their offense early.
“I was just trying to attack early in counts and get pitches I can hit to do damage with,” Robbie Armitage said. On a phenomenal day at the plate, he went seven-for-nine with one home run and six runs driven in between the two games.
Following another Robbie Armitage extra-base hit in the second inning to make it 4-0, the Bobcats’ sophomore Andrew McDermott hit a towering two-run home run to left-center field that cut their deficit in half. This was the closest the Bobcats would ever get.
Defense is an aspect of baseball often overlooked when a team does well but becomes a blatantly glaring issue if a team struggles. Quinnipiac did not have the sharpest defensive performance today, finishing the game with four errors and multiple mental lapses on that side of the diamond.
What perfectly epitomized the Red Foxes’ offensive dominance and the Bobcats’ defensive woes was when Reece Armitage stole home off of senior pitcher Anthony Ambrosino in the fourth inning.
This inning was littered with defensive mishaps, including four errors, the aforementioned steal and in total, 11 runners crossing the plate. Every hitter in the Marist lineup scored in the inning as 16 batters took the plate after they put up their second crooked number of the series.
“If I knew, we’d do it all the time,” Tracz said in reference to their offensive bombardment throughout this series. “We stayed engaged during those innings and played with the momentum.”
Marist has refused to give up an at-bat over the past four games, scoring 51 runs during that span. The Red Foxes are 16-10 (6-3 in MAAC play) and are currently tied with four other teams in the conference for third place in the MAAC. Marist will return to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. to face off against UConn.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Image by Kira Crutcher