May 19, 2005
Junior catcher Eric Hildenbrand homered in both ends of the doubleheader keying Siena's sweep of LeMoyne in Syracuse Thursday afternoon. The Saints improved to 18-5 in MAAC play with the 8-6 and 10-3 victories, LeMoyne fell to 14-10 in the conference.
"The guys really wanted this one, and came out ready to play," head coach Tony Rossi said. "It's nice to beat the team that knocked us out the last two years, and still have a chance to win the regular-season title and earn the top seed in the Tournament."
LeMoyne (25-21/14-10 MAAC) swept Siena (27-21/17-5 MAAC) in each of the last two seasons, eliminating Siena from MAAC Tournament contention. The Dolphins have advanced to the MAAC Championships seven straight seasons, but are now in danger of failing to qualify. Niagara swept a doubleheader at Canisius, meaning the Dolphins need a win in tomorrow's third game and either a Niagara loss, or three Manhattan losses to advance.
Eric Hildenbrand's three-run homerun in the second gave the Saints a lead they would not relinquish. Starter Ken Grant pitched into the eighth inning to move to 5-1 on the season, and James Pacifico worked the final 1 1/3 innings, picking up his third save of the season.
After both pitchers worked perfect first innings, Jake Willis walked to lead off the top of the second, and advanced to third when Rick Seltzer's ground ball to first was mishandled by Corey O'Neil to put runners at the corners. Seltzer had two hits in the game, and he and Willis each scored three times for the Saints. Hildenbrand lined the first offering he saw from LeMoyne starter Bobby Blevins off the left field foul pole to put the Saints on top 3-0.
LeMoyne got on the board in the third when leadoff man Aaron Bulkley grounded into a double play with runners at the corners. Siena scored twice in the fourth to push its advantage to 5-1 on RBI singles from freshmen Michael Ambury and Chris Klepps. Klepps' hit came with two outs and the bases loaded after, Blevins worked out of more trouble by inducing an inning-ending groundout by Gabe Perez.
Mike Affronti doubled to lead off the home half of the fourth, and scored on Ben Gaal's ground ball, which ricocheted off Grant to Klepps at short who retired the Dolphins' left fielder.
Billy Lazio doubled to right centerfield with two outs and runners at first and second to make the score 7-2 in the fifth, as the Saints appeared to seize control of the game. LeMoyne went to the pen, and reliever Joe Manduro shut down the Siena bats for the next four innings, allowing the Dolphins to rally.
LeMoyne scored twice in the sixth, and added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to pull within one, 7-6. Andre Enriquez and Michael Falasca each had RBI hits, highlighting the rally. Falasca led all players with three hits in the opener.
Grant worked 7 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs. He struck out four, and was gritty on the mound, working out of additional trouble in the late innings.
The Saints added an insurance run in the ninth, as Willis drove a one-out sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Gabe Perez, who singled with one out and advanced to third on a wild pitch following Lou Gattozzi's sharp single to left.
Pacifico gave up a leadoff double to Bulkley in the ninth, but stranded him at third, retiring the final three batters he faced in order.
The Saints homered four times, and staked spot starter freshman Craig Chaput to an 8-0 lead after three innings, highlighted by a five run second.
Chris Klepps led off the game with a sharp single to left field and scored later in the inning on the backend of a double steal to break the ice. In the second, Matt Gidaly launched the first Siena homerun of the game with Matt Vitalone on second. Later in the inning, Lou Gattozzi blasted a towering two-run homerun to left centerfield the pitch after he narrowly missed a homerun with a long drive that was ruled foul.
John Wilkes then homered with one out and one on in the third to make the score 8-0. The Dolphins made a mild rally in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two unearned runs on Brian Hansen's single to right centerfield.
Chaput was solid on the mound, picking up the complete game win in his first MAAC start of the season. He struck out three, walked none and allowed just six hits and one earned run in seven innings of work.
The Saints added to their lead in the fifth, as Hildenbrand connected for a two-run homerun to left. He finished the day with four runs scored and three RBI. Klepps was the only Saint with a two-hit nightcap. Bulkley had three hits for LeMoyne. He scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth on Affronti's sacrifice fly.
The two teams complete the three-game series tomorrow at noon. John Lannan will start for the Saints. He is 7-0 against MAAC foes this season. The MAAC Tournament is May 26-28 at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, N.Y.