On a sunny Thursday afternoon after the Marist Red Foxes dispatched the Iona Gaels yesterday, today they faced another big test taking on the second-seeded Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers got the best of the Red Foxes in both regular season games, one included a walk-off grand slam. But this time around, Marist got their revenge as they came back to win this one 4-2.
At the start, this was a duel between two pitchers that were named to the All-MAAC Second Team, senior Kiley Myers for Marist and graduate student Avery Neuhart for Mount St. Mary’s.
Both pitchers showed today why they got All-MAAC honors, as both offenses struggled early on. The first hit of the game came in the third inning from Mountaineers senior left fielder Elizabeth King who hit a double down the left field, putting a runner in scoring position with one out. But Myers would not be deterred as she got the next two hitters out to end the inning.
In the fourth inning, the Red Foxes got their first hit off Neuhart thanks to senior center fielder Sam Freeland, who hit one the other way off the glove of the graduate student third baseman Maggie Kane for a base hit. But it amounted to nothing as Neuhart retired back-to-back batters to end the inning.
Then in the fifth, the Red Foxes looked like they were about to break the deadlock when junior second baseman Alyssa Grupp drove a ball to deep right field into the gap for a leadoff double. Unfortunately for Marist, they were unable to drive a run in.
Senior catcher Shea Walsh flew out to left, then freshman designated player Reese Wilson hit a ground ball to the third base side, and Grupp made a questionable decision going to third and was thrown out. Marist came out empty-handed.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Mountaineers made the Red Foxes pay for their missed opportunities. It started with a bloop single into left field by graduate student shortstop Mariah Godde. Two batters later it was senior center fielder Vanessa Martin driving one to deep center field over the wall for a two-run homer, as the Mountaineers struck first for a 2–0 lead.
They were six outs away from pulling out a decisive 2-0 win, but the Red Foxes had other ideas. To start the inning Marist head coach Joe Ausanio decided to bring freshman catcher Isabella Manory off the bench to pinch hit for sophomore third baseman Ronnie Howard.
Manory proved Ausanio right as she drove the ball the other way off the glove of the Mountaineers junior right fielder Erin Krizmanich, as Manory raced to second base for a lead-off double. Howard then came back into the game to pinch run.
Next up, freshman right fielder Peyton Pusey hit one back to Neuhart, but it moved Howard over to third and was the first out in the inning. Freeland had a chance to do some damage following Pusey, but she went down swinging for the second out.
With two outs, MAAC Player of the Year sophomore first baseman Maddie Pleasants stepped up to the plate with a chance to get at least one run in. In typical fashion, she delivered once again with a hard ground ball past Kane at third base and Goode at shortstop for a base hit, scoring Howard and making it 2-1.
Up next was another dangerous hitter, MAAC Rookie of the Year redshirt freshman shortstop Haley Ahr with the tying run on base. She drove one to deep center field with Martin reaching out for it, but was unable to make the catch. It allowed pinch runner sophomore Kaitlyn Husic to score all the way from first, as Ahr came up clutch with a game-tying RBI double, making it 2-2.
Marist held off the Mountaineers from answering back, in large part because of Ahr who made a running catch from her shortstop position in the outfield.
In the seventh inning, the Red Foxes had a chance to take the lead for the first time. With one out in the inning, Ausanio went to his bench once again and called up sophomore Maddie Gore to pinch-hit for Wilson. Gore, who had struggled mightily this season hitting below .150, came up big with a base hit into center field.
Next was senior left fielder Hannah Brock, who flew out in her first two at-bats, with a big chance to redeem herself with the winning run on first. Brock saw a pitch she liked and crushed one to deep right field over the wall for a two-run homer. The blast gave the Red Foxes a 4-2 lead and their first of the game, as Brock delivered when her team needed it the most.
Three outs away from victory, Ausanio turned to graduate student pitcher Calista Phippen for the save, and she needed only 7 pitches to finish off the Mountaineers who went down 1-2-3, as the Red Foxes finished off their comeback by a final score of 4-2.
Tomorrow they will be back at it at 11 a.m. as they will take on the winner of the game between top-seeded Canisius and fourth-seeded Fairfield.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics and Stockton Photo