Cardinals comeback too little, too late in loss

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LEESBURG, Fla. – The St. John Fisher College baseball team faced off with No. 7 UMass Boston again on Friday in the middle game of a three-game series with the Cardinals coming up short, 10-9, at Pat Thomas Stadium.  With the loss, Fisher, which had entered the day with four straight wins, fell to 5-3 on the season while the Beacons improved to 1-1 on the year.

Fisher was first to strike as the Cardinals plated a run in the top of the first inning after Justin Graham (Webster Schroeder) reached on an infield error and moved to third after the Beacons had another misplay in their middle infield.  With a runner at third, Thomas Pasquale stepped in and lined a shot to center that scored Graham and made it 1-0 in Fisher’s favor.

After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning, Fisher would reload the bags in the top of the second.  Sean Harris led off with a single and moved into scoring position when Stephen Edgett (Webster Thomas) worked a walk.  Harris would move to third following a fielder’s choice before Pasquale was hit by a pitch to load them up.  Allen Murphy stepped in with two outs and smacked an opposite field two-run single to left to help his own cause and give the Cardinals a 3-0 edge heading into the home half of the inning.

Trailing by three runs in the second, the Beacons’ bats came to life after belting a two-run homer over the left field fence to pull to within one run, 3-2, before the Cardinals retired the side.

Holding a slim lead in the third, Fisher strung together a small two-out rally after Harris drew a four-pitch walk to keep the inning alive.  With a runner at first, Edgett singled to left before Graham came up and pounded a two-run double to the right field fence that staked the Cardinals to a three-run edge, 5-2.

UMass Boston stormed back in the bottom of the fourth as the Beacons sent 12 hitters to the dish and plated seven runs on five hits to open up a 9-5 lead heading to the fifth inning.

The Cardinals would fall behind by five runs in the fifth inning after a wild pitch allowed a runner to score, but Fisher came up with three runs on three hits to pull to within 10-8.  After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Murphy moved to second on a wild pitch and came around to score when Antony Mantova smacked an RBI-double to right.  As the inning continued, Ryan Simmons (Victor) got in on the action with a run-scoring double and came around to score the Cardinals’ eighth run of the game when Jack Kelleher singled up the middle.

After holding the Beacons at bay in the bottom of the sixth, Fisher went back to work in the top of the seventh as Pasquale lifted a deep double that clanged off the center field fence and plated Graham to make it a one-run affair, 10-9.

Both teams traded zeroes in the eighth inning as the Beacons took a one-run advantage into the ninth.  With three outs left in play, UMass Boston retired the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter via strikes, but Graham singled up the middle as the lineup turned over.  With the winning run on first, Pasquale extended the game with an infield single, but the Beacons were able to induce a groundout to short to end the threat.

Murphy (1-1) started on the bump and was tagged for nine runs (six earned) on five hits.  The junior recorded four strikeouts before being lifted in favor of Caleb Lee who went 1.1 innings and allowed one run on one hit.  Brandon Roberts threw the final three innings and finished with a pair of strikeouts.  Roberts allowed just one hit and did not give up a run.

Fisher and UMass Boston will conclude their three-game series at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday when they square off at Oceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee.

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