Manhattan Walks-Off in Series Opener with Fairfield
RIVERDALE, N.Y. – The Manhattan baseball team loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before scoring two runs to defeat Fairfield 4-3 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) action on Saturday afternoon. What was scheduled to be a doubleheader ended abruptly as Game Two was suspended with one out in the top of the first due to rain.
The Jaspers (22-25, 9-10 MAAC) took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Nick Camastro was hit by a pitch by starter E.J. Ashworth to lead things off. After stealing second, he later scored when Ramon Ortega hit a ground ball to third that was thrown away by Fairfield’s Jake Salpietro.
That lead looked to be enough for starting pitcher John Soldinger who set down seven batters in a row after giving up a lead off single in the first to Alex Witkus. A one out walk to Sal Ciccone in the third snapped that streak before Soldinger then retired 14 of the next 15, including perfect innings in the fourth, sixth and seventh.
He did run into trouble though in the eight as Keith Skinner doubled to begin the frame. Ciccone then singled with one out to put runners at the corners as the Stags (15-28, 7-12 MAAC) looked for an equalizer. Witkus then attempted a squeeze bunt down the third base line. Joe McClennan charged hard and was able to flip to Ortega at the plate to retire the lead runner at the plate, holding the one run lead.
Rob LoPinto singled in the next at-bat, driving home Ciccone to tie the contest. Fairfield then added two more when Anthony Hajjar hit a single with the bases loaded to take a 3-2 advantage heading into the home half.
Manhattan did creep closer with a run in the home half thanks to an RBI single from Brendan Slattery off reliever Anthony DiMauro that plated Kyle Murphy. Slattery advanced to second on a fielding error by the right fielder but was stranded there.
Relief pitcher Jared Hirschburg gave up a one out single in the top of the ninth but struck out the next two batters, setting the stage for a dramatic bottom of the ninth.
Yoandry Galan began the inning with a soft ground out to the catcher before Joe Rock was hit by a pitch. That forced another pitching change as Andrew Gallagher was brought on for the Stags. Camastro greeted him with a single before he got Andrew Gorecki to strike out, putting runners at first and second with two outs.
After Ortega worked a walk to load the bases, Christian Santisteban hit a soft grounder to the left side of the infield. The freshman hustled down the line, beating out an infield hit as Rock scored. The throw by Ciccone pulled Hajjar off the bag as he dove to the ground while Camastro, running all the way through, scored on the error from second for the game winning run.
Soldinger took a no-decision, giving up three runs on six hits over his eight innings. The senior tied his season high, striking out seven for the third straight outing while also becoming the program’s all-time leader in career innings pitched with 346 total innings, passing Ryan Darcy (2000-03) by getting Hajjar to ground out in the fourth.
Hirschburg (1-0) got the win by pitching a scoreless ninth allowing one run and striking out two. Gallagher (0-3) got the loss for Fairfield giving up the unearned run after recording just one out in the ninth. Ashworth got a no-decision going seven innings allowing one unearned run on four hits.
Camastro went 2-for-4 on the day for the Jaspers, giving him 219 career hits. That total ties him with Kevin Nieto (2005-08) for fifth all-time in Manhattan history.
As Game Two began, starter Jacob Marchus recorded one out before weather forced a delay and eventual suspension. The game will resume as part of a doubleheader on Sun., May 12 at noon with one out in the top of the first. It will be a seven inning contest followed by a nine inning series finale.
Prior to the game, the Jaspers will honor their seven graduating seniors who will be playing in the final home games at Van Cortlandt Park.