Bobcats rally back to win vs. Hartford in extra innings

Christian Beane

Friday afternoon baseball in Hamden had no shortage of excitement as the Bobcats entered a four-game, non-conference series with the Hartford Hawks. Throughout the first six frames, both starting pitchers were showing off, totaling 13 combined strikeouts.

Sophomore Mason Ulsh made his seventeenth appearance and fourth start of the season for the Bobcats while sophomore Alec Couture took the mound for the Hawks.

After the first half of the first inning, the Bobcats and the Hawks were tied up at one. Noah Rivera and Kyle Maves had RBI singles in the first for their clubs.

One inning later, Quinnipiac cashed in and took their first lead of the day after Braydon Seaburg singled and stole second. Jared Zimbardo also put one in center field which allowed Seaburg to score from second base.

With the lead, Ulsh continued his quality start as he would retire eight straight Hawks. That was until Harrison Engstrom took advantage of a mistake and crushed a line drive over the left-field fence, tying the game at two. 

Until the sixth inning, neither offense could seem to figure out the pitching. The only bit of offense came in the fifth when Maves grounded out to second which allowed Anthony Donofrio to score. After six innings it seemed as if we were in for a low-scoring pitching duel.

The low-scoring duel stopped when the Hartford offense clicked in the seventh inning. Starting off the scoring, Martin Chavarria hit an RBI single, tying the game at three. One batter later, Devin Kellogg hit a two-run home run to left field. With Ulsh’s day concluded, junior Andrew Cubberly was brought in.

Ulsh finished the ball game pitching six and two-thirds innings with seven strikeouts. Despite the rough ending, head coach John Delaney praised Ulsh.

“Outside of that [one mistake] he had a good outing,” said Delaney. “He was still making quality pitches and I trust in his stuff. He’s a bulldog on that mound.”

After coming into the inning with two outs, Cubberly would struggle to end the seventh. He would allow a single to Engstrom before Tyler Holmes roped a double to the left, scoring two. The next batter Ryan Knight was walked, and Joseph Woronick scored the final run of the inning, bringing the Hawks to a five-run lead.

The Bobcats showed signs of a rally in the bottom of the inning first as Donofrio sent a ball over the fence in dead-center. A Sebastian Mueller single would end the day for Couture after a Maves single put runners on the corners. In his first big spot of the game, Keegan O’Connor would pop up, ending the rally.

The eighth inning would come and go quickly as the ninth inning saw a slight crisis for Frank Craska. Craska worked himself into trouble, loading the bases with two outs, before setting up a ground out to escape trouble.

Heading into the ninth down 8-4, the Bobcats would need to rally to return in this game. Starting the inning off, Seaburg would spark life in the bench drilling a line drive over the right field fence bringing the deficit down to three with the top of the lineup coming to bat. Both Zimbardo and Donofrio walked bringing Mueller up to bat. Mueller would double, scoring one and bringing the deficit to two runs and knocking out Hartford reliever Jack Colella before he could record one out. 

Now down two with runners on second and third, Maves would walk, loading the bases for O’Connor. After failing to cash in the last time, O’Connor wouldn’t make the same mistake twice as he laced a single between second and third, tying the game up at eight runs apiece. 

The ninth would end in exciting fashion. With the third basemen, pitcher, and catcher all ignoring him, Maves would get a large lead and attempt to steal home for the win. In a close call, he would be thrown out at home which forced extra innings.

In a big spot, Delaney would call upon first-year lefty, Matt Alduino. In extra innings, the Hawks wasted no time loading the bases within the first three batters. After working himself into this jam, Alduino proceeded to strike out two straight before Matt DeRosa made a Willie Mays-style catch past third in foul ground, ending the tenth in style. 

In the bottom of the tenth, Quinnipiac would go on to strand two runners. In the top of the eleventh, Alduino would stay hot, striking out all three batters he faced.

“I was saying to myself a whole lot, this is you,” said Alduino. “This is your game to go out and get,”

Starting off the bottom of the eleventh, Maves would single up the middle once again and would end the game with three hits and two RBIs. Pitcher Manny Corporan attempted to pick Maves off. Instead, the ball made its way past the first basemen as Maves sprinted around the second and advanced two bases because of the error.

Finding himself in once again another big spot, O’Connor had a runner on third with no outs. All he needed was a ground ball through the infield or a fly ball deep enough and Maves could score. Instead, only needing one run, O’Connor connected with a fastball sending it to deep left field. That ball landed beyond the left field wall. O’Connor hit a walk-off home run, giving the Bobcats a 10-8 victory.

“Honestly I was just looking for a pitch over the plate to drive,” said O’Connor. “I got a few off-speed pitches up in the zone and just put a decent swing on it,” 

Despite a rough blow late in the game, the Bobcats came back and rallied from down five to win by two. The MVP of the afternoon matchup was O’Connor. O’Connor finished the game with four hits and four RBIs in six at-bats. One of those hits tied the game in the ninth while the other won the game in the eleventh.

After winning in walk-off style, the Bobcats took the first game of a four-game series. Quinnipiac heads to Hartford for a Saturday afternoon doubleheader.