Manhattan Stays Alive in MAAC Baseball Tournament
TROY, N.Y. - Manhattan rallied behind senior starter Taylor Sewitt who struck out a career-high 12 batters in a complete game 1-0 victory over Fairfield (27-28) on Friday in an elimination game of the 2012 MAAC Baseball Tournament in Troy, N.Y. The Jaspers grinded out their only run in the first inning on a bases loaded walk in order to advance to Saturday of the double elimination tournament and secure the team's 30th victory. It is the seventh straight year Manhattan (30-25) hit the 30-win plateau.
Sewitt's 12 strikeouts were the most in the MAAC Championships since his Jasper teammate Mike Giordano dazzled the crowd in Trenton, N.J. with 13 strikeouts in the 2011 championship game to earn the Tournament's Most Valuable Player Award. Manhattan will endure its biggest challenge of the MAAC Tournament on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. as the Jaspers will face #4 Rider in another elimination game. A win in that game would send Manhattan into the championship round on Saturday at 6 p.m. versus #2 Canisius.
The Jaspers worked Fairfield senior starter Brett Shulick for 38 pitches in the first inning to generate the only run of the ballgame. Manhattan junior center fielder Anthony Vega drew the lead off walk and junior second baseman Nick Camastro was hit by a pitch to start the game with two runners on and no outs.
Junior catcher Ramon Ortega followed with the Jaspers first hit of the game, a single to shortstop to load the bases for freshman third baseman Joe McClennan. McClennan drew the decisive walk on a full count to push in Vega for what proved to be the game winning run.
Shulick, a senior from Stratford, Conn., also delivered an impressive performance as he went eight innings and matched Sewitt by allowing only four hits. Sewitt and Shulick dueled as they each stranded seven opposing base runners, while third base did not see a runner after the first inning.
Sewitt put it into the next gear after giving up his last hit of the game in the fourth inning. The right-hander from Highland Mills, N.Y. retired seven straight batters from the last out in the fifth inning through the seventh inning. He finished strong in the ninth inning retiring the side in order, and it was only fitting that he struck out pinch hitter Rob LoPinto for the final out to set his career-high in strikeouts.
The victory marked Sewitt's fourth straight as he improved to a MAAC best 9-1 on the season. Sewitt's nine wins puts him in a tie with former Jasper standout Jesse Darcy (2007) for third place in program history for a single season.
Ortega led the Jaspers offense with two hits in the contest. Fairfield second baseman Dean Sadik was the only other player to post a pair of hits.
Manhattan looks to carry its momentum into Saturday as the Jaspers try to earn the league's automatic berth to the 64-team NCAA Tournament field for the second straight year. Two wins on Saturday for the Jaspers would force a championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m.