FAIRFIELD, CONN. – The Quinnipiac University baseball team dropped the first game of its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader to Fairfield, 12-7, at Alumni Field in Fairfield, Conn. The Game 1 loss drops Quinnipiac to 15-26 overall and 10-7 in the MAAC while Fairfield improves to 27-19 overall and 12-6 in the MAAC while also clinching a berth in the upcoming MAAC Tournament on May 21-25.
For Quinnipiac, Brian Ruditys (Boothwyn, Pa.) and Ryan Nelson (Knoxville, Tenn.) both collected two hits, while they also drove in two runs each and scored one run apiece. Mike Palladino (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) was 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored, while Vincent Gugleitti (East Haven, Conn.) also collected two hits and drove in a run.
Fairfield got on the board early, plating three runs in its first at-bat. Rob LoPinto singled with one out to left field before Ryan Plourde followed with a single to right field to score LoPinto as the Stags took a 1-0 lead. Jake Salpietro then doubled to right field as Plourde moved to third before scoring on a ground ball to second by Benjamin Tracy. Sebastian Salvo's single to center field scored Salpietro to give Fairfield a 3-0 cushion.
Quinnipiac's first 12 batters went down in order, as Fairfield ace EJ Ashworth had a perfect game working heading into the fifth. After Ashworth retired Vincent Guglietti (East Haven, Conn.) and Rob Pescitelli (Bayshore, N.Y.), Ryan Nelson (Knoxville, Tenn.) walked to break up Ashworth's perfect game. Mike Blumenthal (Dix Hills, N.Y.) ended his no-hitter bid with a double to right center that scored Nelson. Two pitches later, Brian Ruditys (Boothwyn, Pa.) singled to center field to score Blumenthal as Quinnipiac pulled within a run, 3-2.
In the bottom half of the inning, Jankins retired the lead-off batter before giving up a single to left field to Dean Sadik. LoPinto's ground ball to second retired Sadik before Plourde followed with another ground ball to second. The ball was misplayed by the Bobcats' second baseman, allowing Plourde to come around from second to score and give Fairfield a 4-2 lead.
With two outs in the sixth, Guglietti blooped one to center field for a single to extend his team-best hitting streak to five games. Pescitelli then drew his team-leading 22nd walk of the year to bring up Nelson. Nelson got a piece of the first pitch he saw from Ashworth, dropping it just inside the line in right field. As the ball kicked into four territory by the right fielder, Guglietti and Pescitelli came around to score to tie the game, 4-4, while Nelson cruised into third base for a triple.
In the bottom half of the inning, Fairfield regained the lead when Billy Zolga turned on Jankins' first offering of his at-bat, crushing a two-out home run over the left field wall. In the top of the seventh, Rudity led off the inning with his second hit of the day, a single on a line drive to center field. After Nic Civale (East Windsor, Conn.) bunted Ruditys over, Palladino turned on a three-balls-and-two-strikes pitch from Ashworth, banging the pitch off the left field wall as he cruised into second base with a double to score Ruditys and tie the game at 5-5.
The run knocked Fairfield starter Ashworth from the game in favor of Anthony DiMauro. DiMauro got Matthew Batten (Shelton, Conn.) to line-out to right to bring up left-handed hitter Lou Iannotti (North Haven, Conn.). Fairfield opted to play the odds, bringing in southpaw reliever Tucker Panciera. Panciera caught Iannotti off-balanced, inducing a dribbler back to the mound. Panciera rushed the throw and sent the ball down the right field line to allow Palladino to score to give Quinnipiac a 6-5 lead.
Freshman Matthew Osieja (Wyckoff, N.J.) came on in relief in the bottom of the seventh, ending Jankins' day. The appearance was the 20th of the year for Osieja, making him the third pitcher in Quinnipiac's Division I era to appear in 20 games in a season. The last Quinnipiac pitcher to appear in 20 games in a season was Eric Bretscher in 2007. Osieja gave up a lead-off single to Sadik before LoPinto bunted him over for the first out. Osieja got Plourde to fly out before giving up a single to Salpietro. After Fairfield called for switch-hitting pinch hitter Mike Crispino, Osieja was replaced by righty reliever Joseph Scaglione (Wyckoff, N.J.). Crispino drove a fastball to center field to score Sadik and tie the game at 6-6.
In the eighth, Pescitelli walked to lead-off the inning before Nelson dropped down a bunt that he beat to first for a single. After Blumenthal bunted both of them over, Ruditys hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Pescitelli and give Quinnipiac a 7-6 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Fairfield's Sal Ciccone singled to center field before Alex Witkus dropped down a bunt for a single before both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Scaglione then walked Sadik to load the bases with one out. LoPinto then hit a sacrifice fly ball to left field to score Ciccone and tie the game at 7-7. Scaglione then walked the next two batters to force in the go-ahead run as the Stags took an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth. After Matthew Lorenzetti (Marlboro, N.J.) replaced Scaglione, Crispino followed with a slow-roller to no-man's land between the pitcher's mound, third base and short to force a run in as Fairfield took a 9-7 lead. Sebastian Salvo blew the game open with a two-run single through the right side of the infield to give the Stags and 11-7 lead. Fairfield took a 12-7 lead on a line drive that dropped in to left field that scored Crispino.
In the ninth, Palladino ripped his second double of the day to start the inning before Fairfield's Andrew Gallagher retired the next two batters he faced. Guglietti then followed with a double down the line to score Palladino and give Guglietti his MAAC-leading 19th two-out RBI of the season.
Due to the threat of inclement weather, the second game of Quinnipiac's series will be moved to Sunday, May 11 at 12 p.m., followed by the previously scheduled game at 3 p.m.