Quinnipiac blows late four-run lead as Elon takes series opener


Peyton McKenzie

The Quinnipiac Bobcats dropped the first game of a three-game series against Elon.

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac baseball team blew a four-run eighth inning lead Friday afternoon, as sophomore outfielder Charlie Granatell’s walk-off single gave Elon a 9-8 extra innings win. 

Riding a four-game win streak after a sweep over Maryland Eastern Shore, the Bobcats started off well. Despite getting a couple of runners on base in the first inning, they couldn’t get one across the plate in the top half. 

Elon opened up the scoring in the bottom half of the first, as junior third baseman Connor Offshack doubled to center field, bringing in Granatell. 

Bobcats’ Senior pitcher Jimmy Hagan settled in after that, shutting down the Phoenix in both the second and third innings to keep the score 1-0. Quinnipiac gave Hagan some run support in the fourth, when redshirt junior first baseman Sean Swenson doubled to left to score junior catcher Keegan O’Connor from second. 

Hagan continued to pitch well for the Bobcats, as the Massachusetts native commanded both his fastball and off-speed pitches well during the outing. 

The senior was finally able to pitch with a lead in the bottom of the sixth. Senior outfielder Anthony Donofrio took Elon’s sophomore pitcher Shea Sprague yard for a two-run homerun, giving the Bobcats were out to a 3-1 lead. 

However, Hagan couldn’t keep that lead, allowing a two-run homer of his own to graduate student Luke Stephenson, to once again tie the game. 

In the seventh inning, Quinnipiac’s offense exploded. It started with junior outfielder Jared Zimbardo, who drove in a run on a line drive down the third base line to give the Bobcats their lead right back. 

After scoring in the sixth, O’Connor took his turn driving in some runners. A base hit found grass in the left field, bringing home Zimbardo and junior outfielder Sebastian Mueller to push the Quinnipiac lead to 6-3. 

After the Bobcats had secured a four-run advantage, Quinnipiac head coach John Delaney let Hagan exit, finishing his day with six innings of work, allowing just five hits and three earned runs while striking out two. 

Senior pitcher Sam Favieri worked a scoreless inning out of the bullpen, highlighted by a diving catch by Zimbardo in center field. 

Zimbardo wasn’t done however. In the top half of the next inning, Zimbardo added on to his highlight-reel day with an RBI double off the wall, pushing the visitors’ lead to four. 

Elon finally woke up in the eighth. 

Delaney kept Favieri in to start the inning, but he recorded just one more out. The senior was then shelled for four earned runs. 

The Elon party started with junior first baseman Cole Reynolds connecting with one of Favieri’s pitches and sending it off the right field wall to bring in a run, while also pushing another runner to third. With two men on, Quinnipiac committed its first error of the day, as graduate student second baseman Kyle Maves overthrew Mueller at first, allowing two runs to come in. 

Once the Phoenix had the momentum, they capitalized and loaded the bases. Favieri eventually walked in the game-tying run before getting yanked by Delaney. 

However, it was much too late for Quinnipiac. Freshman pitcher Andrew Rubayo, who replaced Favieri, induced a flyball to right field, which brought in another run on the tag up. The late run gave Elon the late lead at 8-7.. 

The Phoenix brought in redshirt junior pitcher Anthony Dabagian to close it out in the ninth, but after Quinnipiac was able to muster a runner in scoring position, Elon quickly made a pitching change. 

Elon head coach Mike Kennedy tabbed junior pitcher Ben Simon as the man to get the job done. However, O’Connor found grass in right field, bringing senior outfielder Braydon Seaburg around from second and the Bobcats had tied it up. 

The hosts went down quietly in the ninth, sending the game into extra innings. 

Just like Elon in the bottom of the ninth, Quinnipiac couldn’t get anything going in the top of the tenth, giving the Phoenix an opportunity to win the game in the latter half. Following a leadoff double by junior centerfielder Justin Cassella, the hosts were in prime position to win the game. 

The Phoenix laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Cassell to third with only one out. The Bobcats intentionally walked sophomore outfielder Adam Berry, giving the hosts runners at the corners.

With a possible double-play ball in play, Elon tried to bring Cassella home on another bunt, which Quinnipiac thwarted at the plate, but it pushed Berry over to second. On the ensuing at bat, Berry came home off a hit from Granatell, giving Elon the 9-8 win and dropping the Bobcats to 4-4 on the season.

These same Bobcats and Phoenix continue their three-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m.