Late comeback leads to victory
With four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Pirates (11-14, 1-5) came from behind to beat the Fairleigh Dickerson Knights 6-5 on Wednesday. Senior Chris Spagnuolo brought in the winning run with a hit up the middle that scored redshirt senior Chris Fontenelli.
“The guys were working hard, believing in each other,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “The team knew we were going to have an opportunity to win and we did.”
Junior Sean Gusrang led off the inning drawing a walk, with junior A.J. Rusbarsky singling to left to put runners on first and second. After a fly out by freshman Scott Kalamar, freshman Ryan Sullivan singled up the middle scoring Gusrang, making the score 5-3.
Fontenelli brought in Rusbarsky with a hard hit grounder between the shortstop and third baseman. Senior Michael Rogers grounded out to second to bring in Sullivan tying the game 5-5 with two outs.
Spagnuolo brought in Fontenelli for the winning run with freshman Mike Genovese stranding a runner on third to end the game and pick up the win.
The offense for the Hall was non-existent for the first five innings until junior Frank Esposito crossed the plate on sophomore Chase Gray’s fielder’s choice. Even with the run, the Hall did not have a hit until Kalamar led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a line drive to left the Pirates’ first hit of the game.
“We have struggled against soft lefties all year,” Rogers said. “We were able to draw a few walks on the first lefty and get him out of the game.”
With the lack of offense early in the game, the Knights were able to take the 4-0 lead in the fourth inning off of Pirates’ starting pitcher freshman Ryan Harvey.
On Tuesday, the Pirates faced the Army Black Knights where productive outs led to the 6-2 victory for the Hall.
“When you can be productive with your outs, that’s important,” Sheppard said. “Anytime an out can score a run, that helps out a lot.”
The Hall took the lead for good with a three run fourth inning that was started when sophomore Bobby Migliazza led off the inning hitting a single to right field. Rusbarsky doubled to left to put runners on second and third.
The next batter, freshman Giuseppe Papaccio, brought in the only run of the game for the Pirates off of one of his team-high two hits with his double that scored Migliazza and had runners standing on second and third again.
Back to back sacrifice flys by sophomore Will Walsh and redshirt Fontenelli scored Rusbarsky and Papaccio respectively, putting the Hall up 5-2.
Migliazza hit the Pirates’ fourth sacrifice fly to give the Pirates a 6-2 lead in the seventh inning.
Freshaman Ricky Mangione made his second start of the season for the Hall and gave up two runs off of three hits while striking out three batters in three innings of work.
Another freshman in Ed Ras came in relief of Mangione and only gave up one hit in 3.2 innings while recording three strikeouts.
The Pirates opened up the scoring in their half of the first inning with Gusrang grounding into a fielder’s choice that scored senior Michael Rodgers. In the third, junior Frank Esposito scored Rodgers on a sacrifice fly to center.
Rodgers leading off for the Hall reached base each time he came up to the plate going 1-1 and walking three times with two runs scored.
“We are starting to put things together,” Rogers said. “But we need to start swinging the bats.”
Over the weekend the Pirates faced the St. John’s Red Storm on the road, for their second Big East series of the season. In the three games the Hall was swept to drop their record to 1-5 in the Big East.
“It starts with the pitching,” Sheppard said. “When you get good pitching it sets the tone for the rest of the games. We have to score more runs also.”
In the final game of the series on Saturday, the Hall took the early lead off a double by Esposito that scored Rodgers and a Gusrang single that brought in Esposito to put the Pirates up 2-0 in the first inning. Gusrang finished the game going 3-4 with 2RBI’s and a run scored.
St. John’s tied the game in the bottom of the fourth off of Pirates starter freshman Jon Prosinski who went four innings giving up the two runs. The Red Storm would take the lead the following inning with Ras on the mound who received the loss in the 9-4 game.
Thursday afternoon, in the second game of the doubleheader, at Jack Kaiser Stadium in Queens, the Pirates fell 6-1. Earlier that day to start the series, Walsh hit a leadoff homerun in the first inning only to be out done by St. John’s freshman Jeremy Baltz who hit a grand slam in the bottom half of the inning.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at email@example.com.