By David Capobianco
The baseball team welcomed East Coast Conference rival University of Bridgeport for a twin bill on Saturday, March 8 at the LIU Post Baseball Field. The Pioneers fell 12-3 in the first game, but bounced back in the second game with a 2-1 victory to salvage a split.
In the first game, sophomore pitcher James Varela took the hill for the Pioneers and held Bridgeport to only one run through the first three innings, but ran into trouble in the top of the fourth inning. A walk, single, and error loaded the bases with nobody out, and Varela would yield a two-RBI single to the next batter. He was able to limit the damage, though, only allowing one more run in the inning, but Bridgeport led 4-0.
The Pioneers found themselves down 5-0 by the bottom of the fifth. After junior shortstop Joe Spitaleri scored on a wild pitch, senior outfielder Kenny Daley followed with an RBI triple to score junior outfielder Rob Andreoli, and Daley would later score on a wild pitch of his own. The Pioneers scored three runs in that inning to close the gap to 5-3.
But the game got away from the Pioneers later, as Bridgeport added three runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to blow the game open to 12-3, putting it completely out of reach.
Things were much better for the home team in the second game, though. “We just needed to completely forget that first game and focus on the next game,” said junior shortstop Joe Spitaleri. The Pioneers’ offense struck early when Daley singled home a run in the first inning. The home team would strike again in the bottom of the fourth, as sophomore infielder Sal Geraci singled home another run and put the Pioneers up 2-0.
That would be all the Pioneers needed behind sophomore pitcher Brian Kavanagh, who was making his first appearance of the season after missing the first month with a minor arm injury. He pitched 6.1 brilliant innings, stifling Bridgeport and not allowing a run until the seventh inning.
“He was very impressive but that’s what we expect out of him,” said Spitaleri. “He’s a work-horse and we knew how badly he needed to be back there.”
A walk, two wild pitches, and an RBI single in that seventh inning were what ended Kavanagh’s day. Senior relief pitcher came in afterward and shut the door, getting a ground ball double play to end the game, which only went seven innings.
“The conference games are very important,” said sophomore in fielder Jimmy Mendyk. “We want to win early on to gain some ground in the standings and gain some momentum.”
The split put the Pioneers at 13-12 on the season, and 4-3 in the ECC. The Pioneers’ next home game comes in a non-conference tilt on Wednesday, April 12 against East Stroudsburg University.