Fisher falls to Ithaca in Empire 8 title game

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ITHACA, N.Y. – The St. John Fisher College baseball team orchestrated a four-run come back on Saturday, but came up short as the third-seeded Cardinals fell to top-seeded Ithaca College, 8-5, in the Empire 8 Championship at Cornell University’s Hoy Field.  With the loss, Fisher slipped to 29-14 overall while the Bombers earned the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship, which will begin next week.

The Cardinals will await word on an at-large bid into the field, which will be announced during the NCAA Selection show that is scheduled to air at 12 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

After a scoreless first inning, Ithaca jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the second with one swing of the bat as the Bombers loaded the bases and proceeded to hit a grand slam over the left field fence.

Trailing by four runs in the top of the third, Fisher clawed its way back into the fight with four runs of its own on five hits.  Catcher Michael Beimel led off the inning with a single to right center and moved to second when Ryan Brown (Brighton) followed suit with a base hit of his own.  Both runners would move up a base on a wild pitch before the Bombers got the next two hitters to ground out.  With two away and two runners in scoring position, Thomas Pasquale singled to center to drive in a pair before Allen Murphy kept the rally going with a two-out single to center.  Facing a two-run gap, Antony Mantova leveled the score at four runs apiece with a two-run double to left to knot things heading to the home half of the frame.

In the bottom of the third, Ithaca reclaimed the advantage as the Bombers loaded the bases and plated two more runs on three total hits to forge ahead, 6-4.

The Cardinals were set up for a potential big inning in both the seventh and eighth innings after getting the leadoff man on, but in both frames, the Bombers were able to cool the Cardinals to preserve their advantage.

Ithaca would tack on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth and opened up a four-run cushion heading into the ninth with an 8-4 lead.

With three outs left in play, the Cardinals put the first two hitters on as Mantova singled through the right side and moved up a bag as Ryan Simmons (Victor) reached on a fielding error by the Bombers’ shortstop.  With two on and no outs, Fisher loaded the bases as Jake Hewitt was hit by a pitch before Beimel singled up the middle to make it an 8-5 game.  With the bases still juiced and no outs, the Cardinals brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate three times, but were unable to cash in as Ithaca retired the next three hitters to hold on for the win.

In all, the Cardinals finished with 10 hits with Beimel going 3-for-4 with an RBI.  Mantova was 2-for-4 in the loss while Graham, Pasquale, Murphy, Hewitt and Brown rounded out the offense with one hit apiece.

Senior Jim Dawson made the start for the Cardinals and went 1.1 innings with four runs on his ledger.  Kyle Chambers tossed 1.1 innings as well with two runs on three hits while Tim Geissel threw two scoreless innings.  RJ Kuruts returned less than 24 hours after pitching the day before and went 2.2 innings in all with two runs while Jack Delaney tossed the final two outs.

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