By Michael Otero
Pitching was dominant for the baseball team on Thursday, March 17, with seven strong innings from junior Dan Jagiello. In addition to the length Jagiello provided, he also allowed just one run on five hits and punched out nine members of Bloomfield College. The offense took care of business as well, pushing across six runs en route to a 6-1 victory.
The scoring began for the Pioneers in the first inning when senior first baseman David Groeneveld drove in a run via a sacrifice fly. After another Pioneer run, sophomore outfielder Rob Andreoli drove in a pair on a base knock, which gave the Pioneers a 4-0 lead.
After a Bloomfield run trimmed the lead to 4-1, the Pioneers responded with two more runs to put the game firmly in hand. Sophomore shortstop Joe Spitaleri and sophomore designated hitter James Cohan both had three-hit performances.
The Pioneers returned to the diamond on Friday, March 18, when they faced off against the University of New Haven in a non-conference game in Conn. After surrendering a five run lead and giving up seven unanswered runs, the Pioneers rallied for a combined three runs in the ninth and tenth innings to win 8-7 in thrilling fashion.
The Pioneers got out of the gate strong and delivered the first punch; scoring three runs in the first inning. Junior catcher Thomas Asbaty and Groeneveld each had run scoring singles and in the third inning, Groeneveld hit his second home run of the young season, making it a 4-0 Pioneer lead.
New Haven finally broke into the run column in the sixth inning and pushed two runs across. Their bats stayed hot in the seventh inning too, adding four more runs and subsequently giving New Haven a 6-5 lead. New Haven added another run in the eighth inning, giving them a 7-5 advantage.
In the top half of the ninth inning, the Pioneers were staring at a two run hole. After a one out base hit by Spitaleri, Asbaty kept the pressure on with a double, putting the tying run in scoring position. Following a fly out, head coach Mike Gaffney looked to his bench in the most crucial spot in the game. Cohan, fresh off the bench, came through in the biggest way; belting a ball to deep center and tying the game with a two-out two-run triple.
In extra innings, the Pioneers won the game with some fundamental baseball. Freshman third baseman Jimmy Mendyk reached on a two-out hit and stole second base a few pitches later. Then, with two strikes on him, Andreoli plated Mendyk with the game winning single. Freshman reliever James Varela, who earned his second win of the season, went 3.1 innings and struck out four.
The Pioneers have improved their record for the season to an even .500, at 8-8. Due to inclement weather and poor playing conditions, the Pioneers’ Sunday, March 20, double-header against Le Moyne College was cancelled and does not have a re-scheduled date as of yet.
Gaffney and Co. are back in action on Thursday, March 24, when they host Molloy College in the first of a four game set over a five day span. First pitch from the LIU Post baseball field is set for 3:30 p.m.