The College of Staten Island men’s baseball team scored an opening round win as part of the CUNYAC/MCU Baseball Postseason Championship double-elimination tournament, but it wasn’t easy. The top-seeded Dolphins used 12 innings to get by No. 4 John Jay College, 3-2, at MCU Ballpark in Brooklyn, New York. The win lifted the Dolphins to 28-11 on the season, advancing them into the tournament’s winner’s bracket, where they will face No. 2 Baruch College, a 5-1 winner over No. 3 Lehman College. John Jay fell to 8-29.
In what can only be described as a pitcher’s duel, the Dolphins sent senior hurler Richard Anderson to the hill. Anderson was chasing history, trying to tie a CSI record for wins in a single season with eight. The hard-throwing right-hander was matched, however, by JJC starter Chris Cracchiolo, who took a 1-5 record into the game but looked masterful throughout, keeping the potent CSI offense at bay.
The two pitcher’s matched each other fluidly, allowing a total of just three base runners through the first three innings. After Anderson got JJC out in order in the fourth that included a great throw by catcher Bryan Moreno to get JJC’s Nico Rivera stealing to end the frame, it was time for CSI to go on the offensive in the fourth. Will DiFede started things off with a single, and then Robert Bernardo legged out an infield single of his own. Ronald Barillas’ would-be throw to get Bernardo out sailed over first base, and although DiFede took third, Bernardo got caught in a run-down and was out at first base. Still, with only one out, freshman John Baggs was able to sky a ball to centerfield to score DiFede via the sac fly, giving CSI the 1-0 lead.
While Anderson continued to hum on the hill for CSI, the Dolphins were able to add an insurance marker in the sixth frame. DiFede got things started again with a two-out walk, and then took second base on a pitch that went wild from Cracchiolo. Bernardo then laced a seeing-eye single up the middle, moving DiFede to third. Baggs then delivered again with a lazy single to left field, plating DiFede again for a 2-0 lead. Cracchiolo settled to get out of the frame, but the damage was done.
After stranding a total of four runners through seven innings, JJC was running short on opportunities, but the Bloodhounds would capitalize in a big eighth inning. Esteban Soler got things started with a one-out infield single, and one at-bat later, Luca Altamirano did the exact same thing. Soler rounded second on the play, drawing a throw from Baggs at first, but the ball sailed high and into the outfield, sending Soler to third base. CSI’s David Carles did well to make a throw to third base and the Dolphins thought they had Soler out on the play but the runner was ruled safe. Then Altamirano stole second base. It was a big steal for JJC, as one at-bat later Dennis Lopes stroked what could have been a ground ball double play. Instead, CSI got the sure out at first base and Soler came home to make it 2-1. With two outs, Jose Fernandez then stroked his team’s biggest hit of the afternoon, lacing an RBI-single to right field, plating Altamirano to tie the score at 2-2. Anderson then got Rivera to line out to end the inning but JJC had their equalizer.
The pitcher’s again took center stage, seemingly getting stronger with each inning. CSI had two men on base in the third, but Cracchiolo worked out of the jam, sending the game to extra frames.
Anderson was magnificent in the extra frames, but it was a great defensive play that highlighted the 10th inning. With runners at first and second base with only one out, JJC’s Lopez then blooped a lazy fly ball to left. Carles came sprinting in from his position and launched himself head first and made a sprawling catch in the outfield, hopped up and made a throw to second base to double up Nick Goia who left second base on the play looking to score. Just like that, CSI was out of an inning that could have been big for the the Bloodhounds.
CSI stranded a base runner in the 10th, and then both pitchers got through a quiet 11th inning. In the 12th, Anderson retired the Bloodhounds in order, including an overpowering strikeout of Goia to end the half-inning. In CSI’s turn of the 12th, the Dolphins got the clincher they needed, with the help of a big error. Phil Ciprello started it off with a leadoff single. Dan Lynch followed with what should have been a sac bunt, but the play was fielded by Cracchiolo, who threw the ball over first base, advancing Ciprello to third and Lynch to second with no one out. The play prompted a lift of Cracchiolo in favor of Braylin Perez. The change paid off when Moreno grounded into a fielder’s choice, as JJC was able to get Ciprello out at the plate easily.
Lynch was able to move to third base on the play, and with one out CSI rested with freshman Joseph Palmeri at the dish. The shortstop, who was 0-for-5 going into the at-bat, fouled off a pair, then jumped on a Perez fastball, screaming in down the third base line, easily scoring Lynch from third and winning the game in walk-off style.
CSI out-hit JJC, 10-9, but it was the gem thrown by Anderson that took center stage. The senior went 12 innings, allowing the pair of runs on nine hits, fanning seven while walking one. Cracchiolo was the game’s hard-luck loser, tossing 11 innings, allowing three runs (only one earned) on nine hits, fanning and walking three. CSI’s Bernardo was 3-5 t the dish, while Baggs went 2-3 with two RBI, a sac bunt, and sac fly.
The win for CSI moves them into winner’s bracket play, where they will face No. 2 Baruch at 4pm tomorrow. A win there, and CSI will clinch a spot in the CUNYAC Final on Friday afternoon. John Jay will face No. 3 Lehman tomorrow at 1pm. The winner of that game will face the loser of CSI-Baruch at 7pm tomorrow to also book a trip to the Final. All games are being played at MCU Ballpark in Brooklyn.