Courtesy of athletics.SJFC.edu
ITHACA, N.Y. – Junior pitcher Anthony Brophy pitched 5.2 innings in relief while Stephen Edgett (Webster Thomas) had three hits on the day as the third-seeded St. John Fisher College baseball team defeated second-seeded Stevens Institute of Technology, 8-4, in the opening round of the Empire 8 Championship at Ithaca’s Freeman Field. With the win, Fisher moved to 28-12 on the season and will face top-seeded Ithaca on Friday in the winners’ bracket.
After falling behind by a run in the bottom of the first inning, the Cardinals answered back in the top of the second with three runs on three hits to claim a two-run edge. Ryan Simmons (Victor) led off the frame with a single to center before Michael Beimel blooped a base hit to shallow right. With two on and no outs, Ryan Brown (Brighton) dropped a sacrifice bunt down to move the runners up before Jake Hewitt stepped in and clubbed a three-run shot over the left field fence before the Ducks could get off the field.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as Stevens chased Kenneth Westbrook from the game in the home half of the second after coming away with two runs on two hits to knot the game up at three runs apiece.
Both teams traded zeroes in the third and fourth innings until the Cardinals broke through in the top of the fifth with a run on two hits. The Ducks retired the leadoff hitter, but Edgett legged out an infield single to put the go-ahead run at first. Junior Thomas Pasquale staked the Cardinals to a one-run lead after the Endicott native cracked his team-leading 20th double of the season to score Edgett from first. The Cardinals were poised to have a big inning as Allen Murphy, the Empire 8 Player of the Year was hit by a pitch to put two on, but the Ducks made a pitching change and got the next hitter to ground into an inning-ending double play to retire the side.
Fisher added a run to its advantage in the top of the seventh as Edgett lifted a solo shot well over the left field fence to give Brophy a two-run cushion, 5-3.
After holding the Ducks at bay in the bottom of the seventh, Stevens would chase Brophy in the eighth as it pulled to within one run, 5-4. Kyle Chambers came on in relief and inherited runners at first and second with no outs before the Queensbury native got out a bases-loaded, nobody out jam after striking out the Ducks’ two-hitter before getting the next batter to line into an inning-ending double play to Simmons to preserve the 5-4 lead.
The Cardinals carried the momentum into the top of the ninth as Edgett picked up his third hit of the afternoon with a double down the left field line before eventually scoring on a fielder’s choice with Pasquale picking up an RBI on the play. As the inning continued, Murphy lined one through the right side of the infield to put two on for Mantova who singled to right to load the bases. With three on and one away, Beimel afforded the Cardinals some breathing room as the sophomore backstop drove in a pair with a single up the middle to make it 8-4.
Facing a four-run deficit, Stevens was unable to get anything going in the bottom of the ninth as sophomore Tim Geissel shut the Ducks down with three quick outs to close out the win.
Westbrook started on the bump for Fisher and lasted 1.1 innings where he gave up three runs on three hits. Brophy moved to 6-1 with the win as the North Tonawanda native allowed one run on three hits and finished with eight strikeouts.
At the plate, Fisher had 12 hits with Edgett going 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and three runs scored. Pasquale had two hits in five at-bats with a double and two RBI while Beimel drove in a pair in the win.