FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (May 6, 2018) – The #4 seed U.S. Merchant Marine Academy baseball team went into extra innings in search of its first ever conference title in the winner-take-all Skyline Championship Game against #2 seed St. Joseph's-L.I. on Saturday afternoon at Farmingdale State College, but it was the Golden Eagles that escaped FSC with a 6-5 victory in 11 innings.
The Mariners forced the decisive afternoon contest after winning the first game of the day in the morning, 5-4, over SJC. With the split on the day, USMMA ends the season with a 28-14 record – the 28 wins standing as a program record – while St. Joe's moves to 25-15 and the Golden Eagles secure the Skyline Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Game 1 Recap
The first game of the day started about an hour later than the scheduled 10 a.m. first pitch due to the umpires arriving late, so the two teams got acquainted with each other with a friendly Mini Olympics competition.
On the field, it was the Mariners that got on the board first with a run in the bottom of the second inning when junior Kyle Cunningham (Panama City Beach, Fla.) knocked in senior Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.). They made it 2-0 with another in the fourth when junior Reilly Cherry (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) hit a sacrifice fly that scored freshman Alex Mesaros (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
Merchant Marine expanded its lead to 5-0 with runs in three consecutive innings from the sixth to the eighth. Cunningham scored in the sixth on a sac fly by freshman Vincenzo Alteri (Watertown, N.Y.), junior Jesse Reinebold (Granger, Ind.) came across on an error in the seventh and Cherry scored on a single by senior Jacob Sithong (Orlando, Fla.) in the eighth.
The Golden Eagles threatened late with a run in the bottom of the eighth and then three more in the ninth to come back within one and they had the tying run in scoring position on second base with two outs, but junior Andrew Spinnenweber (Pasadena, Md.) struck out the final batter to force the championship game.
Spinnenweber tossed the complete game for the victory, his seventh of the season, as he moved to 7-3. He allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits with 12 strikeouts. It was his second double-digit strikeout performance of the season against St. Joe's, as he fanned 13 in a six-inning complete game loss back in March.
Alteri finished the game 2-for-4, while Cunningham and Campbell both went 2-for-5. Cunningham and Reinebold both had doubles and Sithong and Campbell both stole one base each.
For St. Joseph's, senior Nick Clemente suffered the loss, hurling 7.1 innings and giving up five runs on 11 hits with five stirkeouts. In 1.2 innings of relief, junior Anthony Caminiti allowed just one hit and struck out one. Junior Tyler Costa had a two-out, two-RBI double in the ninth that made it a one-run game, as he finished the affair 1-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Game 2 Recap
The Mariners trailed 5-3 late, but scored in back-to-back innings in the seventh and eighth to tie it up. They had the winning run on second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but the Golden Eagles induced an inning-ending double play to force extra innings.
Both teams went down in order in a quick 10th inning, but St. Joe's got the first batter of top of the 11th on on a single by junior Tyler Crafa. After a fielder's choice by Costa, followed by a steal of second base, Costa was knocked home on a go-ahead RBI single by junior Gehrig Montoro. Montoro wound up on second on the throw. The next batter was intentionally walked, but the Mariners got the final two outs of the inning.
In the bottom of the 11th, Reinebold got a one-out single to get the tying run on, but the Golden Eagles won the championship after a lineout and a strikeout.
Freshman Jack McCann (Newark, Del.) went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, while Sithong was 3-for-5 and knocked in one. Five other Mariners had two hits each, including Alteri, who scored a team-best two times. Reinebold had an RBI and a run, while Campbell also picked up an RBI. Cunningham and Mesaros had the other two runs for Merchant Marine.
On the mound, senior Justus Martin (Eaton, Colo.) got the start and lasted three innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with one strikeout. Freshman Quinton Heck (Massillon, Ohio) tossed the next four innings and allowed two runs on four hits and one K, while classmate Andrew Hunt (Severna Park, Md.) suffered the loss after four solid innings pitched, giving up one run on three hits with two strikeouts.
Senior PJ Martino started for St. Joseph's and tossed six innings, giving up four runs (one earned) on 11 hits with three strikeouts. Junior Nick Mannarino hurled the next 2.1 innings and gave up one run on three hits and junior Anthony Caminiti came on in the ninth to get the double play and stayed in to earn the victory after 2.2 shutout innings pitched with one hit allowed and one strikeout.
At the plate, senior Matthew Burnett drove in a team-best two RBIs for the Golden Eagles, while classmate Paul Britt hit a home run and scored a team-best two runs.
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