May 23, 2002
Fishkill, N.Y.--No MAAC team has ever won four straight games to capture the conference Championship. Sound familiar? If Siena is to win the 2002 MAAC baseball title, it will have to take the same unlikely route that the men's basketball team took earlier this year. That road, created by a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Le Moyne this afternoon, begins with an 11 a.m. game tomorrow morning against the winner of tonight's Marist-Rider game.
Siena's (28-28) first MAAC Tournament game of 2002 ended eerily similar to its last. After losing a 4-2 lead, the Saints rallied to close within a single run in the ninth and had runners at the corners for senior catcher Jim Buckley. Buckley lined a shot down the right field line that appeared as if it might fall in for extra bases, but Le Moyne's (30-16) right fielder Brian Frisbee made a running grab to end the game. Anthony Aquilino's fourth inning grad slam proved to much to overcome.
The Dolphins struck first, scoring off Siena starter Dave Pahucki in their first at bat on an RBI groundout by Frisbee. Tony Cipolla's eighth home run of the season tied the score in the second inning, but the Dolphins regained the advantage on a Tony Woods sacrafice fly in the bottom half of the inning.
Siena then scored three unanswered runs in their next two at bats to take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the fourth. Kevin Roberts doubled off the right field wall scoring Fausto Franco and later scored on a double play ground out by Ryan Finn in the third, and Franco drove home a run with a sharp single up the middle in the fourth.
Aqulinio's deciding hit could have been avoided had it not been for some untimely fielding misques by the Saints. With one out, Pahucki struck out centerfielder Kyle Brown, but Brown advanced to first when the ball got away from Buckley. Woods then reached on a fielding error and Eddie Harper followed with an infield single to bring Aquilino to the plate. The Dolphins' shortstop launched a 1-0 fastball over the left field wall to put Le Moyne up for good.
Finn scored on a wild pitch in the fifth to close the gap to a single run, but the Dolphins got an insurance tally in the seventh on a Mike Pecchia single.
Pahucki pitched solid baseball for the Saints, allowing just two earned runs in the complete game loss. He did not walk a batter and struck out five in falling to 6-4 on the season. Mike Barlow picked up the win for Le Moyne pitching six innings and striking out seven Saints.
In the ninth, pinch hitter Steve Castellani reached on a throwing error by Aquilino to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. After Roberts flied out to left, senior Josh Kean lined one of his two hits on the day into left field to bring Finn to the plate. Finn followed with a laser to right field plating pinch runner Chris DelVecchio and sending Kean to third. Buckley offered at the second offering from Le Moyne reliever Andy Weimer, who picked up his eight save of the season working three solid innings.
"All and all, it wasn't a very pretty game," Head Coach Tony Rossi said following the loss. "I don't think either team played their best baseball, and in the end, our m istakes cost us.
"We have put ourselves in a tough spot, especially given our lack of pitching depth, but anything can happen."