KINGS POINT, N.Y. (April 2, 2016) – The USMMA baseball team split its Landmark Conference doubleheader against first-place Susquehanna on Saturday at Lower Roosevelt Field. The Mariners bested the Crusaders, 13-5, in the opener for their first win over Susquehanna since 2013, however, despite a late rally, the Crusaders took the second game, 6-4. Merchant Marine's record moves to 6-14 (2-6 Landmark), while Susquehanna moves to 14-9 (7-1 Landmark).
The Mariners piled on the runs early in the first game, scoring twice in the first inning and then adding four more in the second to take a 6-0 lead thanks in large part to sloppy defensive play by the Crusaders. Sophomore Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.) knocked in the first run of the game, scoring junior Matthew Thomson (Memphis, Tenn.) from third on a grounder that got through the legs of the Susquehanna shortstop, which also allowed freshman Tyler Mowry (Peachtree City, Ga.) to score from second.
In the second, freshman Jesse Reinebold (Granger, Ind.) led off with a single through the left side and then sophomore Alex Gambino (Haddonfield, N.J.) walked. Classmate Steve Lucy (Leawood, Kan.) followed with a fielder's choice that got Gambino out at second and set up first and third with one out. Lucy broke for second and was caught in a rundown, but successfully made it to second for a stolen base, while Reinebold scurried home during the rundown for the double steal. Later in the inning, a costly throwing error came back to haunt the Crusaders, as Campbell knocked a double into left center that scored Lucy and Thomson.
In the next half-inning, Susquehanna answered back with three runs to cut the USMMA lead in half, 6-3. The Crusaders added a run in the top of both of the fourth and fifth innings to come within one, but the Mariners scored twice in the bottom half to lead 8-5 after five. Senior Jeff Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio) batted freshman Kai Vitella (Lewes, Del.) in with a double to left, followed by an RBI single to left by Gambino that scored Suciu two batters later.
Suciu had replaced junior starter Patrick Morgan (Roxboro, N.C.) to start the top of the sixth and fired a 1-2-3 inning. Morgan tossed five innings and allowed five runs (two earned) on eight hits with seven strikeouts in the winning effort as he moved to 2-1 on the season.
The Mariners broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Suciu would go on to earn his first career save after escaping a bases loaded situation in the top of the seventh.
Campbell ended the game going 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs, while Gambino was 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs and Suciu went 1-for-3 and knocked in two.
Junior John Cooley suffered the loss for Susuqehanna in the opener, lasting just 1.2 innings and giving up six runs (one earned) on two hits with two walks and a strikeout. Senior Bryan Palsi was 3-for-4 from the plate with two RBIs, while sophomore Zach Leone also knocked in two runs for the Crusaders.
In the second game, Susquehanna jumped on the board quickly with one run in the top of the first. The Crusaders added four more in the fourth – two by way of a two-run homer by senior Justin Cassinelli – to take a 5-0 lead.
USMMA got one run back in the bottom half of the fourth on an RBI groundout by freshman Zack Winzer (Muskegon, Mich.) that scored sophomore Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.). The Mariners added two more in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Winzer that plated Vitella and a double by freshman Reilly Cherry (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) that scored Suciu to make the score 5-3.
After the Crusaders tallied one run in the top of the seventh, the Mariners threatened during their last licks against Susquehanna closer, junior Liam Conboy. The first two runners reached base and Vitella singled two batters later to load the bases. After a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Winzer walked a run in as Reinebold scored from third. However, Conboy forced a fielder's choice to end the game in the next at bat to end the game.
Vitella, Suciu and Lucy all had two hits apiece for the Mariners and Winzer knocked in three in the defeat.
Freshman starter Andrew Spinnenweber (Pasadena, Md.) suffered the loss despite eight strikeouts over 6.2 innings. Freshman reliever John Kelly Jr. (Apex, N.C.) produced a fly-out to center against his only batter to end the top of the seventh.
Junior Cory Fallon got the W on the mound for Susquehanna, his fifth of the year, as he moves to 5-0. He allowed three runs on nine hits with five Ks. Conboy earned the save, his fourth of the season.
The rubber game of three-game set is set for 12-noon tomorrow, Sunday, April 3, at Lower Roosevelt Field. Live stats are available for the contest by following this link.
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