KINGS POINT, N.Y. (March 31, 2016) – On Thursday, the USMMA baseball team hosted St. Joseph's of Long Island in a non-conference showdown at Lower Roosevelt Field and used a strong late-inning comeback to top the Golden Eagles, 11-5. The win improves the Mariners to 5-13, while SJC falls to 9-6 in defeat.
Merchant Marine fell behind early, as St. Joe's scored two runs in the top halves of both the first and second innings. The Mariners got one back in the bottom of the second when sophomore Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and classmate Alex Gambino (Haddonfield, N.J.) came across to cut the deficit to three, 4-1.
The Golden Eagles added an unearned run off of the USMMA bullpen in the top of the sixth to go up by four once again, but the Mariners started their comeback in the bottom half of the inning against the St. Joseph's bullpen with some aggressive base running that paid off. With runners on first and second and one out, Gambino stole third on a strikeout, which set up him scoring on a wild pitch during the next at bat to make the score 5-2.
Merchant Marine took its first lead of the night with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, as senior Jeff Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio) plated two runs with a double to left that scored sophomore Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.) and freshman Kai Vitella (Lewes, Del.). After a walk to junior Rick Kernan (Blythewood, S.C.), Gambino laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Sophomore Steven Lucy (Leawood, Kan.) then dropped down a suicide squeeze that scored Suciu to tie the score up at 5-5.
Lucy wound up reaching first on the play on a fielding error by the St. Joe's pitcher and then junior Matthew Thomson (Memphis, Tenn.) walked to load the bases once again with just one out. Freshman Jesse Reinebold (Granger, Ind.) gave the Mariners their first lead of the game when he hit a groundball to third that turned into an RBI fielder's choice that scored Kernan.
USMMA expanded on its lead in the bottom of the ninth with five more runs. Gambino knocked in the first run of the inning when he plated Vitella with a bases loaded single through the right side. Lucy followed with a single to center that brought Suciu in to score and make the game 8-5. Up next, Thomson lined a shot into center that sailed past the Golden Eagles' centerfielder to the fence. The bases cleared and Thomson rounded third to attempt the inside-the-park home run, but was thrown out at the plate.
Despite allowing two runners in the top of the ninth, sophomore reliever Kyle Cunningham (Panama City Beach, Fla.) got the final three outs to seal the victory.
Freshman John Kelly Jr. (Apex, N.C.) earned the win, his second of the season, as he moves to 2-2. He pitched a scoreless top of the seventh before the Mariners took the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Sophomore Justus Martin (Eaton, Colo.) got the start hurled five innings, giving up four runs on eight hits with three strikeouts. Senior Quinn Fleming (Ashburn, Va.) relieved Martin to start the sixth and allowed the unearned run and just one hit. Junior Nathan Slusarczyk (Woodbury, N.J.) tossed a 1-2-3 top of the eighth and had one K.
For the Golden Eagles, senior starter Nick Girardi pitched to a no-decision, lasting five innings and allowing just one run on two hits with nine strikeouts, but also eight walks, as he struggled with location. Senior Steven Szobesky suffered the loss after tossing 1.1 innings and allowing five runs (four earned) on just three hits with two Ks and four walks.
The Mariners are back in action this weekend when they return to Landmark Conference play, hosting Susquehanna University in a three-game series at Lower Roosevelt Field beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.
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