Jaspers Swept In Season Opening Series
Miami, Fla. - The Manhattan baseball team jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but it would not be enough as Florida International University rallied to earn an 8-7 win in the series finale and sweep the Jaspers.
After dropping the first two games of the series, Manhattan's offense started the day on the right foot. Senior Nick Camastro (Lagrangeville, N.Y./Arlington) ripped a leadoff homer to left center to begin the inning for the Jaspers (0-3). FIU starter Mike Franco would later load the bases with two outs before Christian Santisteban (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) drew a walk to drive in another run. Mikey Miranda then followed with a two-run double that gave his squad a 4-0 lead after the first half inning.
Junior starting pitcher Scott McClennan (Highland Mills, N.Y./Cornwall) set down the Panthers in order in the bottom half of the frame, but gave up a two-run shot to T.J. Shantz in the bottom of the second, cutting the lead in half.
Manhattan would respond in the top of the third, knocking Franco out of the game after just two innings pitched. Both Kyle Murphy (Waterbury, Conn./Holy Cross) and Santisteban homered in the third, pushing the advantage back to four.
FIU (6-1) would start to claw back in the third, adding a run on an Edwin Rios double before Joe Rock (Carmel, N.Y./Kennedy Catholic) launched the fourth long ball of the game for Manhattan to lead off the fourth. McClennan would get the first two outs in the bottom of the inning before giving up a double to Shantz. A throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt allowed Shantz to advance to third before Oscar Aguirre doubled him home making it 7-4 Manhattan through four.
The Panthers inched a bit closer again in the bottom of the sixth when Aguirre laced a triple that scored Shants with two outs. McClennan would retire the next batter, ending his outing after six innings with a two run lead.
It would then be up to the bullpen to hold on for Manhattan. In the bottom of the seventh, Kevin Bonanni (Plainview, N.Y./Plainview JFK) allowed a leadoff single to Julius Gaines before Zach Sweety hit a two-run blast to tie up the game at seven apiece. Bonanni would regroup and retire the next three batters in a row.
After the Jaspers went 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, Jacob Marchus (Miami, Fla./Miami Palmetto) took the mound deadlocked at seven. A leadoff walk to Nathan Burns was followed by a sacrifice bunt from Shantz to put a runner in scoring position with one out. Aguirre would lace another double, driving in his third run of the game, to give the Panthers their first lead of the day at 8-7.
Marchus allowed one more hit but got out of the inning with no further damage. Manhattan would then go in order in the top of the ninth as Michael Gomez picked up his third save of the season.
McClennan went six innings allowing five runs on eight hits, striking out five for Manhattan which used just three pitchers on the day. Marchus (0-1) took the loss giving up one run on two hits and a walk in the only inning he threw. FIU was forced to use five different arms with Mitchell Davis (2-0) earning the win tossing a scoreless top of the eighth.
The Jaspers will next be in action when they return to the Sunshine State for a four game set against Florida Gulf Coast University beginning Fri. March 1.