By Michael Otero
On Friday, March 27, the baseball team returned to action when they faced the Lions from Molloy College from Mitchell Field in Uniondale, N.Y. The Pioneers fell behind early, but found a way to pull out the 2-1 victory, thanks to an offensive surge late in the game.
Sophomore pitcher Jake DeCarli tossed seven innings while scattering three hits and striking out a season-high 10 batters. The 10 punch outs were the most in a single game for an LIU starting pitcher since Mike Eckerle fanned 12 hitters last season.
Trailing 1-0 in the eighth inning, graduate outfielder Vinny Iacono started the rally with a one-out double. After a productive out moved Iacono over to third base, red-shirt senior infielder Anthony Brunetti, who had three hits up to that point, drove him in with an infield single.
Following a perfect bottom half of the eighth inning by freshman hurler Vinny Ruggiero, the Pioneers’ bats went back to work. With one out in the ninth inning, senior infielder Rick Alessi tripled to right field and subsequently scored on a wild pitch to put the Pioneers ahead 2-1.
Junior pitcher Dillon Burke set the Lions down in order in the ninth inning to earn his first save of the season. He struck out two out of the three batters he faced and now has an eight-inning scoreless streak.
Due to snowfall the following day, the pair of games between the Pioneers and the Lions was pushed back to Sunday, March 29. In the first game, the Lions managed to double up the Pioneers and win by a score of 4-2.
The Lions kicked off the scoring in the first inning as they plated two runs. The hosts later added to their lead in the third inning when junior infielder Michael Rahn ripped an RBI double to left-center to score another run. In the top of the seventh inning, the Pioneers got two runs courtesy of sophomore catcher Kyle Fagan who sent a single to centerfield. The Lions, however, managed to escape the big inning and were still up 3-2 after the half inning.
Looking for an insurance run, junior infielder Deilyn Guzman singled through the right side to put Molloy up 4-2 late in the contest. Senior pitcher Alex Brosnan earned the win while going the distance on the hill. He stuck out 10 batters while allowing two runs on five hits.
The Pioneers rounded out their weekend of games against Molloy looking for another victory. Graduate pitcher Connor McCarthy tossed seven scoreless innings of two hit balls en route to his second victory of the season.
After some sloppy defense by the Lions in the second inning, the Pioneers were able to push a run across and break the scoreless tie. Later in the inning, junior first baseman David Groeneveld sent a single up the middle and plated sophomore catcher Thomas Asbaty to put the Pioneers up 2-0.
A few innings later, Brunetti continued his hot hitting, and singled through the right side to score Alessi and put the Pioneers up three runs. That was all the Green and Gold offense would need in that game as the Lions struggled with McCarthy. The Lions totaled three hits; one less than the number of errors they committed on the field.
Head Coach Mike Gaffney and his squad return to the diamond on Thursday, April 2, when they host the Spartans from St. Thomas Aquinas College. First pitch from Brookville, N.Y., is set for 3 p.m.