After playing many games on the road, the Marist Red Foxes played their first set of home games this season against the Iona Gaels. It was a hot and sunny Wednesday afternoon, and the Red Foxes were eager to get their first home win of the season against the Gaels.
Marist split the two games today with a thrilling 5-3 comeback victory in 10 innings but lost the second game 2-1.
Although they scored five runs, the Red Foxes didn’t get their first hit of the game until the bottom of the sixth inning. They were getting mowed down by Iona senior pitcher Kara Zazzaro who had 11 strikeouts on the day. The Gaels relied a lot on the long ball as all 7 runs they scored in both games came from home runs.
Iona managed to take the lead early with a solo home run by sophomore catcher Jamie Sheeran, which gave Iona a 1-0 lead. Then in the top of the fourth inning, they added to their lead with a home run by sophomore first baseman Emma Capuano, making it 2-0. Shortly after, Iona senior center fielder Jessica Chilcott hit another solo homer, giving the Gaels a 3-0 lead.
Going into the bottom of the sixth, it seemed unlikely that the Red Foxes had a comeback in them. Their offense had been shut down by Zazzaro all game long. It started with a two-out walk from junior right fielder Shea Walsh. Next, junior center fielder Sam Freeland singled, moving Walsh to second. With two outs and runners on first and second, graduate student shortstop Caroline Baratta hit an RBI single, scoring Walsh, cutting the Iona lead to just two.
After getting through the top of the seventh, without any more damage from Iona, the Red Foxes knew that it was now or never going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Sophomore second baseman Alyssa Grupp led off the inning with a walk, and that set the stage for junior catcher Meghan Davis, with a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat. Davis crushed one to right field over the fence for a two-run home run to tie the game at 3-3.
Both teams had chances in extra innings but failed to capitalize until the bottom of the tenth inning. Senior left fielder Hailee Jantorno started the inning off with a walk. The next two batters, Walsh and Freeland both grounded out, which left Baratta with two outs and a runner on second in Jantorno. In a pressure-filled situation Baratta came up clutch with a walk-off two-run home run, which gave the Red Foxes a 5-3 win in ten innings.
Similar to the first matchup, the Gaels pitching handled the Red Foxes offense with ease and also won off of one home run.
On the mound for the Red Foxes was senior pitcher Calista Phippen, who tore her ACL, MCL, and meniscus in September but was out there today on the mound. Head coach Joe Ausanio is happy to have her back saying that Phippen’s presence has “lifted the team.”
Unfortunately, Phippen made one mistake when she gave up a two-run home run to Gaels junior second baseman Morgan Ritchey, giving Iona a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Despite the second inning bomb, Phippen was steady the rest of the game. She went the full seven innings, giving up only three hits, two runs, and striking out five. Unfortunately, she got little to no run support from the offense. The Red Foxes had runners in scoring position five times this game, scoring only one run which came off a wild pitch that allowed Baratta to score in the bottom of the seventh inning to make it 2-1. But it would not be enough, as freshman first baseman Maddie Gore struck out with the bases loaded to end the game.
“I’m just disappointed in us in the last three innings of that game, you know, we have bases loaded in the fifth, bases loaded in the sixth, and bases loaded in the seventh and only came away with one run,” said Ausanio. “I just told the girls, that’s where we need the timely hit. And when we start getting those, that’s when the results are gonna be different.”
“I think we’ve been doing a decent job of getting baserunners on, we just need to get that timely hit,” said Baratta when asked about what the team needs to improve on.
The Red Foxes are now 15-21 on the season. Saturday at noon and 2 p.m., they take on the Monmouth Hawks who are 6-29 on the season.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Luke Sassa