After splitting a doubleheader on the road on Saturday against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, the Marist Red Foxes were back home to take on the Rider Broncs in a two-game set. Unfortunately for the Red Foxes, their inability to close games came back to bite them as they lost both games today. They lost the first one 3-2 and the second one 5-3. In both matchups, Marist held a lead for a majority of the time, but let it slip through their grasp late.
In the first game, the Red Foxes got off to a good start thanks to graduate student shortstop Caroline Baratta who sailed one over the right-field fence for a two-out home run in the first inning and gave Marist a 1-0 lead.
The Broncs answered back in the top of the third inning when they were able to string together some hits. One led to a sacrifice fly from junior left fielder Amanda Cooper, who hit it deep enough into left field that allowed senior catcher Kaitlin Vazquez to score. It tied the game at 1-1.
In the top of the fifth, Red Foxes senior pitcher Calista Phippen managed to get out of a jam with runners on first and second and two outs. She was given a lead when freshman designated player Maddie Pleasants provided her with ammunition on a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to give Marist a 2-1 lead.
Phippen ran into some trouble yet again in the top of the sixth inning when she gave up back-to-back hits with one out. But she managed to get out of that jam without giving up a run.
After failing to score any runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Red Foxes needed three more outs to finish off the Broncs in the first game of a doubleheader. However, the Broncs roared back and were able to retake the lead as Phippen couldn’t hold the lead. Rider scored two runs in the inning, and the first came from sophomore pitcher (who was also hitting) Jessie Niegocki. She smacked one past Red Foxes second baseman Alyssa Grupp for an RBI single. The second came from sophomore right fielder Laneya Wright who lined a single over the head of Red Foxes freshman first baseman Maddie Gore, which scored Niegocki from third and gave Rider a 3-2 lead.
With one last chance to save the game, the Red Foxes went down in order and the Broncs took game one.
Game two was quite similar to the first one, but this time around, the lead the Red Foxes had was bigger. In similar fashion to game one, Marist started with a lead and Rider again were unable to get their bats going for most of the game.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the third inning, when junior right fielder Shea Walsh hit one to straight away center field that went just over the glove of Broncs senior center fielder Lani Moreno for a home run. The play gave the Red Foxes a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Red Foxes had a golden opportunity to break the game open and put more runs on the board, but they squandered it. With bases loaded and one out, Walsh stepped up to the plate and hit a fly ball to Broncs junior left fielder Amanda Cooper who rifled a throw home. Grupp, who was tagging from third, was called out and ended the inning on a double play. No runs were scored.
The Red Foxes put two more runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. The first came from Pleasants, who hit a sacrifice fly in foul territory that allowed junior center fielder Sam Freeland to score from third base. The second came from Grupp who reached base on an errant throw from the second baseman, and sophomore third baseman Miah McDonald reached home. It was 3-0 Red Foxes.
But in the top of the sixth inning, the Broncs came out and lit up Pleasants. She was on the mound but couldn’t get out of a two-out jam. Rider managed to score five runs in the inning, all of them with two outs. First, Wright hit a single to right field and scored two Broncs runners. The second came from junior designated player Chaela Crowder, who drove in another run with a single and tied the game at 3-3. Then came the biggest blow which was a rocket double from Moreno and scored two more runs making it 5-3.
Marist had two innings to try and answer the offensive avalanche from Rider, but they came up short once again, which allowed the Broncs to complete the sweep.
No one is more frustrated about the outcome from the doubleheader than Marist head coach Joe Ausanio. “It’s been all year, we have lost seven in the last inning or next to last inning,” said Ausanio. “It’s one of those things where we just have to finish the job but keep the same intensity the entire game.”
Next weekend, the Red Foxes have a big two-game set on the road against Saint Peters, where they need to take care of business to qualify for the MAAC Playoffs. “It’s my hope that we can go down to Jersey City next weekend and take care of business on our end and let the chips fall where they may because we’ll be able to sit home on Sunday and watch what happens,” said Ausanio.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Luke Sassa