After getting two huge wins over St. Peter’s on Monday, the Marist Red Foxes played in the MAAC Championship in Buffalo to take on the Rider Broncs. Marist were looking for revenge, as they suffered two cruising defeats earlier in the season against Rider, where they blew leads in both games. The Broncs were the fourth seed with a 28-23-1 record while the Red Foxes were the fifth seed with a record of 24-28. This time around, the Red Foxes were able to take revenge as they won this game convincingly 3-0.
The star of the show for Marist was senior pitcher Calista Phippen, who was dominant, throwing a complete game shutout. She went seven innings, gave up only four hits, walked two batters, and threw just 80 pitches.
The Red Foxes wasted no time as they jumped out to an early lead on the Broncs in the first inning. After junior right fielder Shea Walsh and junior center fielder Sam Freeland both worked walks at the top of the order, the stage was set for graduate student shortstop Caroline Baratta to deliver. She did but in an unconventional way.
Baratta managed to hit a liner right at the Broncs senior pitcher Brooklyn Trujillo-Quintana, who caught the ball but made an errand throw back to first base which allowed both Walsh and Freeland to score, giving the Red Foxes a 2-0 lead.
Despite the two early runs, both teams were not playing well offensively for much of the game, which made it even more crucial for Phippen to hold down the fort for the Red Foxes. In the top of the third inning, the Red Foxes had a golden opportunity to break the game open, and give Phippen a bigger lead. Walsh got the action started by drawing her second walk of the game, then Baratta smacked a single into left field. Right after that, the Red Foxes were gifted with a passed ball from junior catcher Elena Gonzalez, which moved runners to second and third.
Unfortunately, freshman designated player Maddie Pleasants, fresh off winning MAAC Co-Rookie of the Year, was unable to produce as she ended the inning with a flyout to left field. The Red Foxes came out empty-handed.
Phippen didn’t give up her first hit until the bottom of the fourth inning when Broncs senior first baseman Grace Stansfield lined one up the middle, but it ultimately led to nothing as Phippen got through the rest of the inning without a problem.
The Red Foxes tacked on one more run, and it came in the top of the sixth inning when sophomore second baseman Alyssa Grupp delivered a single into right field. It scored pinch runner freshman infielder Ronni Howard all the way from first to make it 3-0 Red Foxes. Although they added another run, the Red Foxes still could’ve added more. It gave their ace Phippen an easier cushion heading into the bottom of the seventh, but once again, they failed to capitalize.
Freshman first baseman Maddie Gore delivered a sacrifice bunt, moving runners to second and third with one out. But a groundout from senior left fielder Hailee Jantorno and a strikeout from Freeland allowed the Broncs to get out of the jam without surrendering any more runs.
Phippen would enter the bottom of the seventh in a similar situation that she was in the last time she faced Rider on May 1. Only that time, Phippen was unable to shut the door as she allowed Rider to take the lead. The Red Foxes lost 3-2. This time, she would not make the same mistake as she got through the seventh and sealed the Red Foxes win 3-0.
“She’s a big game pitcher, and I expected nothing less from her today,” said Marist head coach Joe Ausanio. “She kept them off balance and we played really good defense behind her,”
At 1:30 p.m. tomorrow, the Red Foxes take on the number one seed Canisius Golden Griffins, who will come into the game as the tournament favorites and will also have home field advantage since they host the tournament.
Despite coming into this game as the underdogs, the Red Foxes beat the Golden Griffins this season twice on their home field in early April. But that was during the beginning of the MAAC season and Canisius is a different team now.
Ausanio said he loves going into games as the underdog, and feels that the pressure is on Canisius to come out with a win since they are playing on their home turf. He acknowledged that it will certainly be a tough game, but that (Marist) is prepared for tough games because they have been in close games all season long.
Last season the Red Foxes pulled off a huge upset in the tournament by taking down the number one seed Monmouth. This year, they are in a similar position and are in prime position to once again take down the top dog.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Stockton Photo