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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Swenson’s 2-run blast, Proctor’s clutch at-bat propel 5-4 walk-off over Merrimack

Tyler Rinko
Junior first baseman CJ Willis swings at a pitch in a game against Merrimack on March 2.

HAMDEN — The hit comedy, “Ted Lasso” centers around one word: belief. The fictional soccer team AFC Richmond has a yellow piece of paper taped in its locker room with “BELIEVE” written on it.

It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume Quinnipiac baseball has the same note in its locker room.

“We have this word that became part of the program last year which is very simple,” head coach John Delaney said. “It’s just belief, and believing in yourselves, believing what you’re capable of and never doubting it.”

With the Bobcats off to a rocky 1-5 start, belief becomes questionable. But Saturday afternoon, Quinnipiac proved it could compete with future MAAC opponent Merrimack in an electric 5-4 walk-off win.

It was the first meeting for the Warriors — who currently play in the Northeast Conference — and Bobcats. It was also the first collegiate game played on Quinnipiac’s new $2 million turf field.

“It’s fitting right?” Delaney said. “How many times have (we) had to deal with rain in the past couple of years in the field and we’re out there sponging or shot vacuuming water off the field. So it’s kind of fitting that we’re gonna play the first game here on the new field with rain.”

Oddly enough, rain had little to do with Saturday’s outcome. The contest was a pitcher’s duel until the seventh inning. 

Quinnipiac redshirt senior Sean Swenson pitched two scoreless innings, followed by a stellar relief outing from senior right-hand pitcher Sam Favieri. 

“(Favieri) did a great job coming out of the pen for us and that’s been his role as kind of being the piggyback guy off the opener,” Delaney said.          

The Warriors were equally sound on the bump, with senior right-hand pitcher Tyghe Healey throwing six scoreless innings. 

Quinnipiac began to lose its grasp when junior right-hand pitcher Brett Leighton relieved Favieri in the seventh. Leighton hit a batter, which coupled with a costly error put Merrimack on the board 1-0.

Senior catcher Keegan O’Connor started the rally and ripped a single up the middle. Freshman shortstop Kyle Garbowski walked and junior first baseman CJ Willis singled to left. Then came Swenson, who was hit by a pitch to bring O’Connor home. 

With the bases reloaded, it was Braydon Seaburg’s turn to be clutch. The senior left fielder hit a chopper to short and Garbowski scored.

The Bobcats had a 2-1 advantage heading into the ninth inning with junior right handed-pitcher Ryan Hutchinson on the bump to put Merrimack to bed. But the right handed senior opened a wound that couldn’t be bandaged. 

Hutchinson’s command went down a slippery slope when he hit infield graduate student Alex Haba and threw a wild pitch that put Sherman on third. Freshman infielder Dawson Bryce hit a 2-run double to take a 3-2 lead.

Delaney made a call to the bullpen and brought out sophomore right-hand pitcher Matt Alduino to finish the job. He did, but not right away. 

“(Sherman) just lost command of his fastball and put us in a tough situation and Alduino same kind of deal,” Delaney said. “But those guys, they’re gonna be our reliable guys. And that’s not typically what we see out of those guys.”

Alduino proceeded to walk the first two batters he faced, handing Merrimack another run. Things looked bleak for the Bobcats, who have struggled with the pitching rotation since opening day.

“After we got in from that top of the ninth when (Merrimack) took the lead, the first word from (pitching coach Rich Cesca) was ‘we gotta believe,’” Delaney said.

And that’s just what Quinnipiac did. Freshman right hand pitcher Colby Barker hit Willis, bringing up the red-hot Swenson. Up 2-0 in the count, Swenson belted a meatball over the left field wall to tie the game at four, causing an uproar from the Bobcats’ bench.

“It’s good to see us be resilient and come back,” Delaney said. “Battle back to take the lead and then battle back to tie.”

Quinnipiac had the momentum to win. It just needed to execute. Seaburg walked. And when a team is in jeopardy of handing its opponent the go-ahead run, play gets sloppy. Sherman misfired a pick off attempt, and Seaburg wound up on third. 

With the winning run 90-feet away, it was up to junior third baseman Dominick Proctor — already 2-for-4 on the day — to put the game to bed. Looking for contact, he blasted a long single into right field to bring Seaburg home.

“You saw no nerves with him at the plate, like he was trusting himself, trusting us,” Delaney said. “We’ve been executing all week and talking heavily on the strike to strike approach. And we get in that situation and all of a sudden it comes around and it’s productive.”

Merrimack entered the game hunting Bobcats, but walked away from Hamden standing at 1-6. Then again, the Warriors have a similar opportunity Sunday to silence Quinnipiac on its home field. First pitch is at 1 p.m. 

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About the Contributors
Amanda Dronzek
Amanda Dronzek, Sports Editor
Tyler Rinko
Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

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