Marist hosted the newest member of the MAAC, the Mount St. Mary’s Maniacs on Thursday afternoon. In their first matchup with the university since 2000, the Red Foxes led wire to wire in an 8-7 victory, but comfortable would not describe this game in the slightest as Marist was just barely able to stave off a ninth-inning comeback attempt by the Mount Maniacs.
In Marists’ first MAAC home game of the season, junior Brian Yetter was given the start after going five strong last Friday at Quinnipiac. Command was his enemy this outing, surrendering three walks to load the bases in the top of the first inning, but he escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts to prevent any runs from crossing the plate.
Putting up a zero in the first allowed the top of the lineup to draw first blood in the bottom half of the inning. The raging hot graduate student Brian Hart extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a run-scoring double to bring home freshman Ethan Conrad. After Hart advanced on a groundout, freshman Bayram Hot drove him in with a single to give Marist the early two-run lead.
“He’s [Hart] scorching hot, seeing the baseball really well, using the whole field,” head coach Lance Ratchford said. “He’s just been leading us through this good track of good offense that we’ve been putting together lately.”
Yetter struggled with his control all day, allowing seven walks, five hits and a hit by pitch, but despite the constant movement on the basepath, he only allowed three earned runs in 4⅓ innings pitched. Damage control was his specialty on a day clean innings were at a minimum, however he accomplished his goal and kept Marist in the game.
“He just didn’t have his fastball control like he’s had, but he was just able to grind himself through and then make some big pitches,” Ratchford said.
The Mount Maniacs registered their first run in the third inning when senior Jayson Kramer blasted a solo shot to right field to cut their deficit in half. However Marist responded immediately after Hart drove in senior Dylan Hoy from third on a ground out. The new conference rivals continued to trade runs in each of the next two ensuing innings as well resulting in a 5-3 Marist lead through five.
Pitching has been a recurring issue for the Red Foxes all season, but a strong bullpen performance Tuesday against Albany provided this team with a bit of assurance heading into this series. Sophomore left-hander John Hacker relieved Yetter and he was throwing darts from the jump. Pitch efficiency was vital with Ratchford’s pen being thin and Hacker delivered, throwing a strong 3⅔ innings pitched to really save the rest of the Marist arms.
In this critical conference matchup, every opportunity Marist was given, they needed to take. By the bottom of the seventh, Hart had already driven in three runs, therefore the Mount Maniacs decided to give him the ultimate respect by intentionally walking him with two outs and a runner in scoring position. However, graduate student Niko Amory did not take this lightly and after Hart stole second, the Marist catcher made them instantly regret this decision by driving a double to left field to bring in two crucial runs to extend the lead to four. A bases-loaded hit by pitch by senior Justin Kapuscinski would tack on another run to make it a three-spot seventh inning.
“I saw a fastball first pitch and I knew it was nothing that could beat me, then you see a slider out of the hands, so once it got to three-two, I knew, either way, I was going to come out on top,” Amory said.
These additional runs would prove to be necessary as the Mount Maniacs would not go away quietly. After freshman JT Landwehr brought them one run closer in the eighth with a solo home run, the ninth got very dicey after Hacker allowed two hits to start the inning.
Senior Jack Keenan relieved the sophomore, however, a balk to begin the appearance did not make things go any easier. Two walks, two hits and two wild pitches into the outing and Marist was now holding onto a mere one-run lead with the bases loaded.
For a Thursday day game, the crowd was completely enthralled, and with ice in his veins, Keenan zoned out all the noise and struck out senior Brady Drawbaugh to earn the emphatic win for the Red Foxes.
“I just told him, we’re behind you. We want you to have the ball in this situation. We trust you the most. And he just came right back and made a couple of really good pitches at the end there to finish it,” Ratchford said.
Marist wins back-to-back games for the first time this season as they earned their first conference win of the year. The Red Foxes return to action tomorrow, Apr. 7 at 1 p.m. for the second game of three against Mount St. Mary’s.
Edited by Andrew Hard
Photo from Kira Crutcher