McQuaid uses seven-run fifth to take down Pittsford Sutherland

McQuaid sent 11 batters to the plate in a seven-run fifth inning. (Photo: PAUL GOTHAM)

By JOHN LIKANJE

HENRIETTA, N.Y. – McQuaid Jesuit exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull away for a 10-2 season-opening victory over Pittsford Sutherland on the campus of Monroe Community College, Thursday afternoon.

Leading 3-2, Nick Nugent drew a walk and advanced to third base on an error. After Noah Campanelli was hit by a pitch, he and Nugent both scored on a Tyler Griggs triple to right field.

“He struggled a little bit early in the game,” McQuaid head coach Tony Fuller said of Griggs who is committed to play at UConn. “Lefty was keeping him off-balance, but he showed maturity as a fourth-year starter, just letting the game come to him and delivering that knockout blow. Ball to right center kind of got us going to finish the job.”

 

 

Drew Bailey was hit by a pitch and stole second base. With runners on second and third, senior Ryan O’Mara lined a single to opposite field to drive in Bailey and Griggs.

“O’Mara just does a good job in RBI situations,” Fuller said of the Niagara University commit. “He’s a veteran, he’s been there, done it, and he’s very comfortable in that role. He’s just aggressive early in the count and when runners are on base, we’re obviously confident with him in there.”

 

 

O’Mara stole second, and Charlie Merkley smacked a single up the middle to bring in the run. Merkley advanced to second on the throw to home from center field, forcing the Pittsford Sutherland Knights to make a pitching change.

“He had good at-bats all day,” Fuller explained about Merkley. “Had a good shot out to left field. He had quality at-bats all day and then just put together another good at-bat, barreled up again and shot through the middle.”

 

 

After Zach Lee drew a walk, he and Merkley both advanced a base on a deep fly ball out to center field from Patrick Xander. Nugent, who had already drawn a walk and scored a run earlier in the inning, went the other way for a two-run single.

“His job is just get on base, turn that lineup over,” Fuller explained about Nugent’s role. “Guys happened to be on base. Obviously, we’re confident with him just putting the ball in play and doing good things.”

 

 

Overall, the Knights sent 11 batters to the plate, collected five hits, drew a pair of walks, were hit by two pitches and stole two bases in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“We got to their bullpen,” Fuller explained. “Their starter did a good job. Kept us off-balance. Tip our cap to him. For us, we just had quality at-bats, did some good things on the bases, just put pressure on them, and first game out, just kept playing.”

Hunter Walsh struck out seven and allowed four hits and one walk over five innings. The right-hander tossed 86 pitches. After giving up both runs in the top of the second, the senior pitcher retired nine of the last 11 batters he faced to earn the win.

“Hunter’s another four-year starter senior,” Fuller explained about Walsh, who was also the starting quarterback on the football team in the fall. “He’s our number one. Probably the best in the area, in my opinion, and he’s just going to give us a chance to win every time.”

“He battles, throws strikes,” the head coach continued. “If he gives up hits like he did in the second inning, we can live with that. Battled through adversity and then settled down. He was on a little bit of a limited pitch count today. First time out, cold day. We’re pleased with his first outing.”

 

 

Griggs led the offense, going 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Nugent and O’Mara both drove in a pair of runs and drew a walk. O’Mara went 2-for-3 with and scored two runs. Nugent was 1-for-2 with a run scored. Lee and Merkley both had an RBI as well. Lee went 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored. Merkley collected a hit in four at-bats and scored a run.

University of Albany commit Ben Beauchamp went 1-for-4 at the plate and picked off a runner at first base in the top of the fourth inning.

 

 

For Pittsford Sutherland, senior Robert Nolan accounted for both runs with a two-run single in the second inning. Tyler Depaolis, Nick Provenzale and Jack Zawacki each had a hit.

“They have some injuries,” Fuller said of Pittsford Sutherland. “They’re a good ball club; well-coached group. They’re going to be just fine and competitive in their league. We just happened to catch them early in the season when they’re battling some injuries.”

McQuaid will take on Corning (IV) Saturday afternoon at 1 PM at Finger Lakes Community College. The Corning Hawks are coming off a 21-run outburst against Hornell on Wednesday. Pittsford Sutherland will meet local rival, Pittsford Mendon, Monday at 4:30 PM. Game set to be played at Pittsford Mendon High School.

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