LAKEWOOD, N.J. - Jake Salpietro hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the top of the 12th inning and Fairfield escaped a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the frame as the third seeded Stags defeated No. 2 seed Siena Baseball 5-3 in the Saints' MAAC Tournament opener at FirstEnergy Park.
Siena (22-31) will face a yet-to-be determined opponent - either fourth seeded Quinnipiac, fifth seeded Monmouth or No. 6 seed Manhattan - in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Siena recorded 15 hits but stranded 13 runners on base, spoiling a phenomenal outing from Matt Gage. The Saints' junior ace worked the first 10 innings, scattering five hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out five.
Mike Wallace went the first 8.1 innings for Fairfield (32-22). He surrendered 12 hits, but the Saints only plated a pair of unearned runs off him. As a result, the teams were tied 2-2 heading into extra innings.
The Stags had a golden opportunity off Siena reliever Matt Quintana in the 11th, stringing together three consecutive two-out hits. But the final hit - No. 9 hitter Sal Ciccone's knock down the right field line - hit the first base umpire. The umpire immediately ruled the ball dead and sent what would have been the go-ahead run back to third base. Quintana then induced Dean Sadik to fly out to center to leave the bases loaded and escape the threat.
But in the bottom of the 12th inning, Fairfield put the first two runners on against Quintana and Salpietro laced a stand-up triple into the right centerfield gap to put Fairfield on top 4-2. He later scored an insurance run following a wild pitch.
Down to their final three outs, Siena mounted a rally in the bottom of the frame. The Saints loaded the bases with two outs and Andres Ortiz drew a walk to force in a run. But with the potential tying run on second base and winning run on first, Fairfield's Anthony DiMauro induced MAAC Rookie of the Year Dan Swain into a fly out to left to end the game.
Andrew Gallagher tossed three innings of relief to earn the win for Fairfield, while DiMauro retired the only batter he faced for the save. The Stags will face top seed Canisius in the winner's bracket at noon Friday.
Four Saints posted multi-hit games with Vincent Citro and Tyler Martis collecting three apiece. Brian Fay and Ortiz each added a pair of hits for the Saints which lost for the first time this year when out-hitting their opponent (14-1).
Siena also dropped its MAAC Tournament opener last year before rallying to win their next two games to advance to the championship series. The Saints will now need to win four straight to capture the program's first MAAC Championship since 1999.