By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Jonathan Catapano drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the sixth inning of the nightcap, and the Monroe Community College Tribunes held on for a doubleheader split with Herkimer College (7-9/4-3) in NJCAA action Sunday afternoon.
Catapano sent a two-strike offering into centerfield, and Matt Wagner scored from third as Monroe erased a late deficit and closed the home portion of the season schedule with their fourth win in the last five games.
Wagner sparked the winning rally with a one-out seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. The Tribune second baseman stole a pair of bases before Catapano connected on his third hit of the day.
Trailing 3-2 going into the fifth, Monroe took advantage of Herkimer’s generosity to knot the score. Johnny Ricotta got aboard on a two-out error. Jake Hewitt and Nick Rubino reached on back-to-back hit by pitches and a wild pitch brought home Ricotta with the tying run.
Colin Johnston overcame a porous Tribune defense which committed six errors in game two for his fourth victory of the season. The sophomore hurler struck out two, walked one and did not allow a hit until a leadoff single in the fourth.
“CJ won that game for us,” Monroe coach Dave Brust said.
Johnston allowed one hit – an infield single on a cue shot off the end of the bat – over the last three innings. He set down the side in order in the fifth and seventh innings.
Herkimer capitalized on a pair two-out Tribune miscues to get on the scoreboard in the second inning.
Monroe answered in the home half when Rubino plated Ricotta with a single
Justin Bunting started the third with a double in the left field corner. Wagner moved the runner with a sacrifice bunt, and Bunting came home on an error.
“Justin Bunting stepped up,” Brust noted. “Boys showed they wanted to win games.”
Monroe led 2-1 after three innings.
Christian Aybar capped a two-run Herkimer fourth inning with an RBI double to give the Generals a 3-2 edge.
Damian Clarke struck out 13 in the opener but came away with a no-decision as the Tribunes let a late lead slip away. The sophomore left-hander retired the first six he faced before an error with bases loaded in the third brought in two for the Generals.
“Little things didn’t get done to protect Clarke,” Brust stated. “Three runs should not have happened. Game inside the game cost Clarke 20-plus pitches or more. Outside of the runs, he loses one to two miles per hour and movement off his fastball and the bite on his slider and change-up.”
Monroe responded in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Brown reached on an infield single and advanced on an error. Catapano put runners on the corners when he beat out a two-strike bunt. Alex Canty brought in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Hewitt made a 4-2 game with a two-out RBI single through the left side.
Brown pushed the lead to three at 5-2 with an RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Canty doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch for a 6-4 lead after five innings.
But Herkimer rallied in the seventh. Anthony Pacifico, Leon Babcock and Patrick Troy hit back-to-back-to-back triples to give the Generals a 7-6 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
Canty tied the score with a solo shot – his eighth home run of the season – to lead the seventh.
Bobby Lazar connected on his second home run of the game for Herkimer in the top of the eighth.
Monroe left the bases loaded in the eighth.
Wagner finished 3-for-4 on the day with two walks, two stolen bases, a run and a sacrifice.
Catapano was 3-for-7 with two walks, two runs scored a stolen base and an RBI.
Andrew Czubaj finished 2-for-4 with a run scored in game one.
Bunting was 2-for-3 with a run scored in the night cap.
Canty was 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored in the opener.
Ricotta had two hits and scored two runs.
The same two teams will meet Tuesday at Herkimer.