It is great to have college baseball back. The America East Conference had seven of its eight teams debut last weekend. The Hartford Hawks will make their season debut this weekend when they travel to Death Valley to take on Clemson. Since we are talking about a northeast region league, the results from last weekend are not too much of a surprise. Teams had some difficulty getting outside to prepare for these early-season games. Make no mistake, there is talent in this league and as the spring moves along that talent will start to show itself. Let’s take a look at how the first weekend went in America East.
The defending America East tournament champs from a season ago, NJIT, got off to a good start last weekend. They were the only team that had a winning weekend. Things got started on Friday night when the Highlanders defeated Gardner-Webb 4-3. NJIT received a solid start from Ryan Fischer who went the first six and gave up three hits, and one earned run. He struck out 11 batters in his season opener. Last spring’s best closer, Jack Rappaport, picked up where he left off as he picked up save #1 on the year with three innings of four-hit, two-run, one earned baseball in relief. The next day, NJIT made it two for two with a 9-3 win over Bellarmine. A six-run seventh followed by a two-run eighth did the trick. The Highlanders bats got warm in a hurry as they banged out five extra-base hits in the game. On Sunday, they faced Virginia and were beaten 8-3. The Cavaliers banged out 12 hits against six NJIT hurlers. Evan Gegeckas took the loss going a rough five innings and giving up three hits and four earned runs. SS David Marcano had a three-hit game, Albert Choi hit a HR from the leadoff spot. This weekend NJIT takes on another ACC team in Wake Forest.
Although the results did not suggest it, the Albany Great Danes played a solid weekend of baseball at #16 Georgia. Yes, they did lose all three games to the Bulldogs, but they gave themselves a chance in the first two games of the series to steal a win or two. On Friday night, starter Ray Webber was bitten by the long ball twice in his four innings of work. The Great Danes did make it interesting when in the eighth Brad Malm hit a two-run shot to left to make it a 4-2 game. It would be as close as they would get in the season opener. Saturday saw Albany knocking on the door again. Leading 4-1 in the sixth, the Bulldogs bats came alive and scored six runs over the last four innings to win 7-6 in walk-off fashion. Georgia would hit three home runs in the game, and get the walk-off hit from Cole Tate in the ninth off of Connor Eisenman to win it. Albany got a good start from Anthony Germinero who went the first six giving up eight hits and two earned runs. Brad Malm hit his second HR in two days and Carson Dunkel also went deep for the first time this season. On Sunday, Georgia got the sweep with a 9-1 win. Six Albany pitchers allowed seven hits and nine runs, eight were earned. This weekend the Great Danes play at UMES.
Binghamton salvaged a game in its opening weekend at Lamar University. Friday night was the toughest of the three games. Trailing 1-0 in the seventh, the Bearcats tied the game on a HR from catcher Connor Aoki, one of two hits on the night for him. The game would stay tied and go into extra innings. In the bottom of the 14th, Lamar pushed across the game-winning run on a Ryan Snell base hit to center field off of Alex Henderson. Lamar would take Saturday’s game 16-1 before the Bearcats would break through and win on Sunday 9-5. A five-run first off of Josh Ekness did the trick. Ryan Bryggman went the first five and got the win for Binghamton. The Bearcats head to Old Dominion University for the weekend.
Other teams saw action last weekend. Maine went to Baton Rouge and had a tough time with LSU. Pitching was a major reason why. In the three-game series, the Black Bears staff gave up a combined 51 runs in the three games. UMass Lowell’s season began at Tulane, where they were swept by the Green Wave. The River Hawks did have a shot on Sunday to take the finale of the series. Tied at 5-5 in the eight, Chase Engelhard singled off Matt Draper to untie the game at 6-5. Zach Devito went two innings to get the win for Tulane. Draper was the tough-luck loser. The River Hawks did get their bats going in this one. Robert Gallagher went deep twice and Gerry Siracusa also went yard. Gallagher and Siracusa went back to back in the fifth to tie the game at 5-5.
The Player and Pitcher of the Week are both from NJIT. The player is David Marcano who had a slash line of .385/.467/.538 in the three games played last weekend. Ryan Fischer was the pitcher after tossing six innings in his season debut which was a win over Gardner-Webb. He fanned 11 while giving up one run on three hits. The Rookie of the Week is LHP Colton Book of Stony Brook who came out of the Seawolves bullpen and tossed five scoreless innings allowing two hits, zero walks and struck out four. Stony Brook was up 4-3 in the fifth when Book entered the game. The Seawolves would go on to win 7-3.
Hopefully, that gives you some idea of how the first weekend of baseball went in America East. We will be with you right through the postseason tournament in May At Maine.
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