Jaspers Rally from Nine Back to Down Liberty in Extra Innings
RIVERDALE, N.Y. - The Manhattan baseball team made an improbable comeback from a nine run deficit to earn a 14-13 victory in extra innings over Liberty (12-5) in the second contest of the three game series on Saturday afternoon at Worthington Stadium in Lynchburg, Va. Senior outfielder Kevin Nieto, the 2010 MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, notched his fourth hit in the top of the 10th inning to send the game winning run across the plate. Junior outfielder Mike McCann hit 4-for-6 with five RBI and red-shirt freshman Ramon Ortega also delivered a 4-for-6 performance to go along with three RBI in Manhattan's (9-5) eighth win in the last 10 games.
Jaspers' sophomore Mike Giordano earned the win after pitching three innings of relief with two strikeouts. Giordano improved his record on the hill to a perfect 3-0 this season. Freshman reliever John Soldinger closed the game striking out two batters for his team-leading fifth save of the season.
The Flames jumped out to a 9-0 advantage by the fifth inning touching up Jaspers' senior starting pitcher Tom Costigan for eight runs. Costigan was relieved in the fourth inning by freshman right-hander Mike Gonzalez after giving up five earned runs to go along with two strikeouts.
Sophomore third baseman Tyler Bream anchored Liberty's initial surge as he contributed five RBI by the fourth inning. Bream capped a two run first inning with a RBI single, added a two-RBI double to a three run third inning and another RBI single in a three-run fourth inning. The Flames put their ninth run on the scoreboard in the fifth off Trey Wimmer's sacrifice fly.
Manhattan's offense appeared in the sixth inning chasing Flames' starter Steven Evans out of the ballgame after posting four runs on five hits. Jaspers' junior third baseman Chad Salem worked a lead off walk, and then first baseman Austin Sheffield moved them into scoring position with a double to left center. McCann drove in the two with a double down the right field line. Three batters later freshman Joe Rock knocked in McCann with a single and then classmate Nick Camastro doubled to right center allowing Rock to cross the plate to pull the Jaspers within 9-4.
McCann launched a two-run blast over the right field wall off Flames' reliever Carter Browning in the seventh inning to get Manhattan within 9-6. It was McCann's first home run of the season.
The Jaspers rushed out to their first lead of the contest posting five runs in the eighth inning to take a 11-9 edge. Nieto got the surge started with a lead off home run to right field. McCann sent a RBI single into right field, and then Ortega blasted a three run homer to put Manhattan out front.
Liberty responded to the Jaspers push with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to regain a 13-11 advantage. Flames' junior Jeff Jefferson delivered a two run double and senior Casey Brown sent a two run homer out of left center.
Manhattan had another comeback rally left in the tank and in the top of the ninth inning Nieto kept the Jaspers alive with an infield single. Junior outfielder Mark Onorati capitalized at the plate next and locked the contest at 13-13 with a two run homer which landed far beyond the left field fence.
Giordano came up big for the Jaspers in the ninth as he preserved the tie by retiring all three batters faced to force extra innings. Manhattan wasted little time in the top of the 10th frame. After Ortega's lead off single and a successful sacrifice bunt from Camastro, Nieto came through for Manhattan with the decisive RBI single through the right side.
Manhattan turned the ball over to Soldinger in the bottom of the 10th to close the game. The rookie from Bay Shore, N.Y. was nearly flawless as the pitched his fourth consecutive scoreless inning.
Manhattan and Liberty will play the rubber match on Sunday at 1 p.m.