Jaspers Rock & Roll into MAAC Title Game
TROY, N.Y. - The Manhattan College baseball team is heading into game seven of the 2012 MAAC Championships after a dramatic 5-4 comeback victory over Canisius (33-26) Saturday at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y. Jaspers' junior outfielder Joe Rock's game-tying home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning off MAAC Relief Pitcher of the Year Jon Fitzsimmons set the tone for the thrilling extra inning victory.
Jaspers' second baseman Nick Camastro's triple to lead off the 10th inning allowed designated hitter Brendan Slattery to lace the game winning RBI single. Slattery's hit sends Manhattan (32-25) into one last date with the Golden Griffs on Sunday at 12 p.m. for the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Manhattan senior pitcher Taylor Sewitt earned his second victory in as many days. He kept the Golden Griffs scoreless for the last two innings posting three strikeouts. Sewitt complemented sophomore reliever Jacob Marchus who let up only two hits in the seventh and eighth innings, allowing the Jaspers' offense to mount its comeback.
The resilient Jaspers needed to rally back from a 4-1 deficit after the Golden Griffs put up three runs in the top of the sixth inning. Manhattan waited until Fitzsimmons, who had not given up a hit to a MAAC opponent this season, entered the game in the eighth inning to make their move. The sophomore right hander inherited two base runners and loaded up the bases after hitting Jaspers' junior first baseman Kyle Murphy.
Manhattan junior catcher Ramon Ortega stepped up to the occasion as he delivered a two RBI double with the bases loaded that nearly tied the game. A great throw by Canisius shortstop Ronnie Bernick got Murphy at the plate and left Manhattan facing a 4-3 deficit heading into the ninth inning. Ortega powered the Jaspers offense through the Jaspers two games on Saturday by driving in a total of six runs.
With the Jaspers down to their last two outs of the 2012 season, Rock came up with one of the biggest hits in MAAC Championship history. The junior from Carmel, N.Y. turned on a pitch from Fitzsimmons sending it over the left field wall for only the third home run of this year's tournament.
Sewitt came up in a big situation in the top of the 10th inning to get out of jam with runners on first and third base to keep the game locked at 4-4. The right-hander struck out freshman Mike Krische for his 15th strikeout of the MAAC Tournament en route to a MAAC leading 10th win of the season.
The Jaspers relied on Camastro's clutch lead off triple in the bottom of the 10th inning, after he was called back to the batter's box as it appeared he was hit by a previous pitch. Camastro dug in and sent his first triple of the season to right center field. It was Slattery who then took the torch as he drove Camastro in with his game winning RBI single to center field.
Camastro and Rock both had three hits in the ballgame as they each saved their best hit for last. Rock had the hottest bat in the stadium for the Jaspers wins over Rider and Canisius on Saturday as he went 6-for-8 (.750) with two RBI.
Jaspers' starting pitcher Scott McClennan gave Manhattan 5 2/3 strong innings to keep the club within striking distance before turning the ball to the bullpen. Manhattan's comeback spoiled a solid start by Golden Griffs' junior starter Billy Martin. The right-hander went 7 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and he yielded three earned runs.
Manhattan enters Sunday's championship bout looking to set MAAC history as the only team to win the title in the double elimination tournament after dropping its first contest. The Jaspers and Golden Griffs will gear up one last time at 12 p.m. on Sunday at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y.