Quinnipiac baseball completed a three game sweep of NEC competitor Long Island University Saturday in what could have been the most exciting game of the season. Sophomore Kevin MacIlvane stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth in an at bat that would make him heroic for the day and not soon forgotten by LIU pitcher, Christopher Brescia. Brescia got sloppy leaving a hanging curveball about belt high to MacIlvane, who would tie the game with a homerun that would indefinitely deflate LIU’s momentum.
The Bobcats wasted no time on their quest for runs against LIU, scoring early and often. With one out in the first inning the Bobcats drew first blood in what would be just the beginning of a long see saw battle between the two teams. Randy Gress started off the first inning rally with a walk, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch thrown by LIU starting pitcher, Matthew Bunyon. Albert Marano, 2-4 on the day, then singled off Bunyon to put a runner on first and second with one out. Bunyon then lost control over what looked like a sloppy slider, only to bean clean up hitter Brian Sabatella. Just like that the bases were loaded in the first inning for power hitting lefty Brien Maggee. Magee wasted no time starting what would be a, 3-5 day for him, roping a two run single into center field to make it 2-0 Quinnipiac.
The Blackbirds of Long Island got a run of their own in the top half of the third with some choppy hitting. Marcus Wynn reached on an error only to be moved to second by a questionable sacrifice bunt by Matthew Martino. With Wynn securely on second base the Blackbirds were able to manufacture their first run when Robert Rowen took a belt high fastball up the middle to score Wynn.
With confidence the Bobcats were able to retaliate with their bats in the bottom of the third inning. Randy Gress was once again given a free base, this time after being hit by a pitch and advancing to first. Marano stepped to the plate for his second time and blasted a two run shot out of the park to give the Bobcats a 4-1 lead, and raise his homerun total on the season to six.
It was more Quinnipiac in the fifth when sophomore Ricky Coppola laced a single that quickly turned into a double after the LIU shortstop wildly threw the ball over first base. Smartly Coppola advanced to third on a pop up foul down the first bases line, and was scored on a single to left by Wilson Matos to make it 5-1 Bobcats.
However, the Blackbirds proved to be pesky in the later innings of a game that featured Quinnipiacs hard throwing right-hander Dave Bennet. The senior from Fairfield, Connecticut had been pitching a gem through five innings of work, striking out five and allowing six hits. Bennet was rattled early in the sixth after LIU’s Rowen reached on an error and was later advanced to third after Richard Bell and Tim Doherty hit back to back singles to load the bases. Peter Orsi pushed in the first LIU run of the evening with a ground out that ended Bennets day. Bennet was promptly taken out of the game after 6.1 innings. Later in the inning LIU tallied two more runs on the scoreboard after Khlye Farrison reached on an error allowing two LIU runners to pull pass over home.
The Bobcats were later dethroned of the lead after Martino’s single in the seventh lead to a major Quinnipiac let down. Rowen stepped to the plate and roped his first home run of the season making it 6-5 LIU.
What happened next set the stages for a heroic comeback that would not soon be forgotten by either team. The first batter to face LIU closer, Christopher Bescia, was none other than Kevin MacIlvane. The sophomore was all smiles rounding the bases after a one run shot to left field tied the two teams at six.
In extra innings the Bobcats looked to make something happen in the bottom of the tenth after giving up one to the Blackbirds earlier in the inning. With one out in the bottom of the tenth Marano started the rally with a walk, and was advanced seconds later in a fielder’s choice by Sabatella. Maggee then stepped to the plate and capped off his 3-5 day with a shot into centerfield that scored Marano and tied the game. Magees hit set the stage for MacIlvane once again to become the hero after his game tying long ball in the ninth. Looking calm and poised MacIlvane delivered the game winning hit to the left side, scoring Sabatella and allowing the Bobcats entire bench to rush the field after a long winded 8-7 win over the Blackbirds of LIU.
Quinnipiac advanced to 9-1 after their win over Long Island University on Saturday. The Bobcats now look forward to their next game in New Britain, CT against Central Connecticut on April 14.