Jaspers Late Push Falls Short at MAAC Tournament
RIVERDALE, N.Y. - Top-seeded Manhattan (29-25) dropped its opening round contest of the 2012 MAAC Baseball Championships to #4 Rider (22-32) falling 6-4 on Thursday at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y. The Jaspers, who entered the double elimination tournament riding a seven game win streak, will look to bounce back on Friday at 3 p.m. facing the loser of #2 Canisius and #3 Fairfield. Manhattan's road to defending its MAAC Championship and earn its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament gets slightly tougher with the Jaspers forced to win four games in the next three days.
Jaspers' designated hitter Brendan Slattery gave the team some life in the bottom of the ninth inning with Manhattan facing a four run deficit. Slattery blasted a two-run bomb to left field after junior catcher Ramon Ortega drew his 30th walk of the year making it a two run ballgame with no outs. But after Broncs' starter Tyler Smith walked junior right fielder Joe Rock, the junior left hander returned to form as he got the final outs to finish the complete game victory.
Slattery led the Jaspers with a two hits even though they were hard to come by against Smith who allowed six all game and struck out four. Manhattan junior starter John Soldinger lasted 5 2/3 innings giving up 10 hits, before the Jaspers turned to freshman reliever Michael Scarinci who kept Rider scoreless for the rest of the contest.
Rider got on the board first posting three runs by the fourth inning. The first run came in the second inning, after the Jaspers nearly got out of a tight situation with Broncs on first and second base and no one out. A clutch double play by junior first baseman Kyle Murphy on a line out and diving tag left Rider with sophomore outfielder Jerry Mulderig on second base. It appeared Manhattan had the final out, but a dropped ball at first base that Soldinger was hustling to cover kept the inning alive. Broncs' freshman catcher Eric Strano capitalized on the opportunity with the RBI single.
In the third inning, a double down the left field line from junior designated hitter Ian Lindsay followed by junior third baseman Adam Wayman's single got the next run on the board. The Broncs went up 3-0 on a failed pick off attempt at third base that let second baseman Greg Fazio come in.
Manhattan's bats came around for the bottom of the fourth inning when they generated a pair of runs on RBI singles from freshman third baseman Joe McClennan and sophomore left fielder Chris Kalousdian. Ortega got it started with a one out walk and Slattery's single set the stage for McClennan and Kalousdian to drop base hits into left field that brought the Jaspers within 3-2.
Rock gunned down Broncs' shortstop Mike Parsons at the plate to end the fifth inning with a strong throw from right field to keep it a one run ballgame. But on a similar play in the sixth inning to Kalousdian on a single from Strano to left field with two outs, Broncs' left fielder Nick Crescenzo managed to slide under the tag giving Rider a two run cushion. Broncs' senior outfielder Brandon Cotton then hit a two-run homer to right center field that expanded Rider's lead to 6-2.
Smith locked in from the sixth inning on giving up his only other hit to Slattery in the bottom of the ninth.
Manhattan will look to rebound on Friday against either #2 Canisius or #3 Fairfield in order to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The Jaspers won two of three games during the regular-season against both the Golden Griffs and Stags. Manhattan will try again for its 30th win of the year at 3 p.m.