May 16, 2005
Marist jumped out to a 4-1 lead, and held off hard-charging Siena 4-3 in Loudonville Monday to claim first place in the MAAC standings and clinch a spot in the upcoming conference championships. The Saints, playing their final home game of the season, also earned a spot in the four-team championships, as Niagara lost to Rider 8-6 in Niagara Falls.
The Saints mounted a ninth inning rally, and following a Marist error had runners at the corners with one out for the heart of the order. Gabe Perez grounded sharply to short; however, and the Red Foxes turned a game-ending double play to end the threat.
"We waited too long to get the bats going," head coach Tony Rossi said. "That has been a problem for us, and we have been fortunate enough in the past to work our way all the way back. Today we fell just short. It's disappointing, but we have to gather ourselves and get ready for LeMoyne, and then the Tournament."
Siena (24-21/16-5 MAAC) out-hit Marist (26-18/19-5 MAAC) in each of the three games, but ultimately fell short twice in losing its first conference series of the season.
Delmar's Josh Burnett and Marist junior Jonathan Smith waged a pitching duel that saw both starters toss solid complete games. Burnett did not allow a run after the fourth inning, and did not walk a batter in suffering the hard-luck loss on his Senior Day. Smith scattered 10 hits, sacrificing just two earned runs to move to 5-1 on the year.
Eight players on each team hit safely, Siena's Jake Willis and John Wilkes were the only two players to manage multi-hit games.
Perez's first inning sacrifice fly gave Siena an early 1-0 lead, but the Red Foxes bounced back with four unanswered runs. Marist got seven of its eight hits, and scored all four of its runs in innings two through four. The first run came as the Saints turned a bases loaded double play in the second, tying the game at 1-1. Keith Brachold then launched a two-run, opposite field homerun that hooked inside the left field foul pole, making the score 3-1 in the third. Joe Sargent and Kevin Grauer then put together back-to-back doubles in the fourth to complete Marist's scoring.
Matt Gidaly made the score 4-2 with his second homerun of the season with one out in the fifth. Gidaly blasted a 1-0 Smith offering over the left field wall. The Saints added a second run in the inning on Jake Willis' RBI single to left.
After Gidaly grounded out to start the ninth, leadoff man Chris Klepps singled to short. Lou Gattozzi then hit what appeared to be a game ending double play, but Sargent had trouble with the throw at second base, and Klepps advanced all the way to third. Perez leads the Saints with 27 RBI on the season, but he could not beat out the hard two hopper he hit to short, ending another dramatic game between the two rivals.
Marist now has the upper hand as the MAAC season reaches its final stages later this week. The Red Foxes play at Iona, and Siena travels to LeMoyne on Thursday and Friday. The Saints would need to gain a game on the final weekend to claim the regular-season title.