May 31, 2014
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Vincent Citro drove home the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th setting off a celebration 45 years in the making. Siena rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to shock #28 Dallas Baptist and the rest of the College Baseball World with a wild 9-8 victory Saturday at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth, the program's first in NCAA Tournament play.
Siena advances to play another elimination game Sunday at 3:30 p.m. against Sam Houston State which lost an epic 3-2 decision to TCU in 22 innings.
"It feels fantastic," Siena coach Tony Rossi said. "I'm really happy for our school and our baseball alumni. They've been all over me with texts and e-mails the last few days. I'm really happy for everybody in the Siena community."
Those texts and e-mails won't stop anytime soon.
Rossi picked up win number 801 in his 45th season as the face of Siena baseball, none have bigger than this.
Senior reliever Neil Fryer gave the performance of his life, overcoming 90-degree heat to deliver nine innings of near perfection. Fryer entered with no outs in the second and Siena trailing 6-0, and after allowing an inherited runner to score the Patriots' seventh run he was nearly unhittable. Fryer's final line: nine innings pitched, six hits, one run.
"Our kids battled and Neil just gave us the game we wanted him to give us," Rossi said. "He's our closer, but he can do anything. He just battled. You've got to understand he was up yesterday in the pen. He's a warrior. He just kept coming after them."
Meanwhile, Siena took advantage of 16 walks to chip away at the DBU lead. The Saints scored twice in the second and three times in the third to get back in the game.
"We were in the take mode most of the game just so we could get base runners," Rossi said.
John Rooney completed the comeback with a two-run single through the left side of the infield with two outs in the seventh against DBU ace reliever Brandon Koch, putting Siena on top 8-7. Koch entered the game with a perfect 8-0 record, nine saves and a 0.46 ERA, and had struck out 66 in 39.1 innings of relief.
The Patriots pulled even in the top of the ninth on Justin Wall's RBI triple to deep center. Dan Swain got a glove on the long drive, but couldn't reel it in on a dead sprint. Rossi visited Fryer, whose longest appearance of the season had been just three innings, but opted to leave him in the game. Fryer rewarded him, getting a grounder to second with a drawn in infield and a flyout to right to keep the game tied 8-8.
The gutty Fryer came out to pitch the 10th and retired the side in order, picking up his fifth strikeout and upping his pitch count to 129.
The winning rally started, as they often do, with a leadoff walk to Brian Fay. Mike Williams pinch ran for Fay, but was gunned down at second on a failed sacrifice. Andres Ortiz took over as the winning run, and moved to second on Swain's sharp, one-out single up the middle. After Dave Hoffmann went down on strikes, the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch and Tyler Martis drew a walk to load the bases with two down for the ultra-clutch Citro.
Siena's top hitter grounded a 1-0 pitch up the middle and DBU shortstop Camden Duzenack ranged behind second to knock it down, but couldn't make the play. As Ortiz crossed with the winning run the Siena dugout exploded onto the field for the second time in six days. The Saints completed a remarkable run through the loser's bracket to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament Sunday. Now, they're the first MAAC team to win a Regional game since Manhattan took two in Nebraska in 2006.
Citro, Rooney, Swain and Hoffmann each had two hits for the Saints. Siena just missed an upset of national seed TCU Friday night, succumbing 2-1 in 11 innings.
It's been well documented that Siena started the year 0-17 and travelled over 11,000 miles to play 34 games before taking the field for the first time in Loudonville on April 18.
It will now be well documented that this Siena team has accomplished something far more memorable, and will be forever known as the first to win an NCAA Tournament game.