‘This team has zero fear right now’: Quinnipiac baseball mercy rules Niagara 13-2 in MAAC Tournament

Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

POMONA, N.Y. – For the first time since 2019, Quinnipiac baseball took the field in the MAAC Tournament on Wednesday, mercying the Niagara Purple Eagles in seven innings 13-2. 

Senior right-handed pitcher Kevin Seitter, newly-minted All-MAAC first teamer, was on the bump for the Bobcats. Niagara sent out its own senior right hander, Marcus Cashman, to face off against Quinnipiac’s second-ranked offense. However, he wasn’t in the game long enough for the Bobcats to get to know him. 

They chased Cashman from the game after 1.1 innings, scoring four runs, headlined by homers from juniors infielder Sebastian Mueller and catcher Keegan O’Connor. 

“With the way we’ve been rolling with the bats, I feel that this is what we expect to do,” Mueller said. “Just knock the guy out of the game early and at that point, anyone you throw us in with, we’d be ready for.”

Sebastian Mueller’s five RBI against Niagara is tied for his second-most in a game during the 2023 season. (Peyton McKenzie)

Seitter, on the other hand, pitched a gem on the mound. He went the full seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and struck out nine. 

His crowning moment came in the top of the fourth. With the Purple Eagles on first and second with two outs up 4-1, Seitter battled with Niagara graduate student first baseman Josh Marchese for 10 pitches. Knowing that Marchese could tie the game with a swing of the bat, Seitter won the duel, striking the infielder out swinging. 

“(O’Connor) did a really good job at calling pitches on that one,” Seitter said. “We sequenced it really well. Ultimately, you just have to compete. It’s mano a mano, right? You just have to stay consistent and keep pounding.”

With the MAAC Tournament being a four-day affair, a team pitching its ace on day one can leave him out of gas for the later days. However, Quinnipiac head coach John Delaney had no doubt with his choice to put Seitter out there.

“We have to win every game,” Delaney said. “You have to win game one. If you don’t win game one, your back is against the wall in this set up, so you have no choice.”

With the momentum from their starter pushing them forward, the Bobcats took control right after, putting up a five-spot in the bottom of the fourth to go up 9-1. Three of those runs came courtesy of another Mueller dinger, this one off Niagara graduate student pitcher Tommy Bednarski. 

This was Mueller’s second multi-homer game against Niagara this season after hitting three in a 16-10 win over the Purple Eagles on April 7. 

Under NCAA rules, if a team is up by 10 or more runs in the seventh inning or later, the game is over. The Bobcats scored another four runs in the bottom of the sixth to go up 13-2.

As the rain began to fall, Seitter retired the side in the top of the seventh, closing out the most important start of his collegiate career. 

The only component of Quinnipiac’s game that seemed off was the defensive play of senior shortstop McGwire Tuffy, who had three errors from the six-spot throughout the contest. Despite the shaky play, Delaney’s confidence in Tuffy’s place was unwavering.

“He’s our guy. He’s staying in.”

With the win, Quinnipiac will play Rider Thursday at 3 p.m. on the winner’s side of the bracket. The Bobcats opened MAAC play against the Broncs back on March 24. They went 1-2 against them during that three-game series. However, this is a different Quinnipiac team than they were then. 

“I would say this mentality is completely different,” Mueller said. “Now that we’re rolling, we expect to win every game. We’re not as timid as we were back then. So I think we’re a whole new team mentally, which is everything.”

With no need to stick around at the ballpark late into the night playing in the loser’s bracket game, the Bobcats are able to think about dinner plans before tomorrow’s matchup against the Broncs. 

Delaney wasn’t sure what was next. 

“I have no idea. I’ll handle that,” he said.

Mueller had suggestions.

“We had some pretty good chicken parm last night with some penne vodka. So honestly, if we run that back, I’m good with it,” he said.

The momentum is on Quinnipiac’s side. The team has won 10-straight games dating back to May 6. It needs to win at least three more to claim the MAAC title. It all starts again Thursday. 

“This team has zero fear right now,” Delaney said. “They’ve got full belief of what they’re capable of.”