BROOKLYN, N.Y. (March 17, 2015) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy baseball team won its first game played in its home state on Wednesday, a road contest against Baruch College at MCU Park in Coney Island. The Mariners outlasted the Bearcats, 11-8, on a very windy day and improve their record to 5-3, while Baruch falls to 3-8.
The week started with good news for the squad, as on Monday, the Landmark Conference announced that USMMA freshman Jacob Sithong (Orlando, Fla.) was named the league's Baseball Athlete of the Week for his efforts in the Mariners' opening week down in Florida last week. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the ECAC announced that Sithong was named the Division III South Rookie of the Week.
On the diamond on Tuesday afternoon, after a scoreless first inning, Merchant Marine broke through with two runs in the top of the second when junior Zach De St. Germain (Eagle, Ind.) hit a one-out double, then advanced to third on a passed ball and later scored after a throwing error by the Bearcats' catcher. Freshman Steve Lucy (Leawood, Kan.) knocked an RBI-single through the right side that plated sophomore Francis Grzymkowski (Stafford, Va.).
The Mariners added three more in the top of the third to take a 5-0 lead. Sithong led off with a walk, stole second, then scored on a on an RBI-double down the left field line by junior Quinn Fleming (Ashburn, Va.). With one out, Fleming stole third base and then came home to score on an RBI-single to right by freshman Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.). Later in the inning, Grzymkowski tripled to score De St. Germain, which forced Baruch to change pitchers early in the game.
The Bearcats fought back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth aided by the gusting winds, but the next half inning, the Mariners got some help by the wind, as junior Grant Foley (Butler, Pa.) knocked an inside-the-park home run to center that scored senior Jake Wood (Richmond, Va.). A run scored by Sithong later in the top of the sixth due to an error made the score 8-3 in favor of the visitors.
Baruch scored three more in the bottom of the seventh to come within 8-6.
USMMA tacked on three more runs (which wound up being very important) in the top of the ninth. Sithong led off with a single and got to third after a Bearcat throwing error allowed Fleming reach and wind up at second base. Freshman Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.) singled to center to score Sithong and then advanced to second on the throw. With the bases loaded three batters later, freshman Kaleb Clayville (Pasadena, Md.) knocked home Fleming with a single to right and then Barnes scored on a passed ball two batters later.
The Mariners held off a Baruch two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth to claim the victory.
Sophomore Nathan Slusarczyk (Woodbury, N.J.) got the starting nod and went four innings, giving up two runs on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts. He faced three batters in the fifth inning and was replaced by junior Jeff Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio), who got out of the fifth allowing just one run on three hits. His twin brother Brad Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio) took the mound in the sixth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts.
Freshman Josh Ellington (San Leon, Texas) was credited with the victory, his second of the season, after being deemed the most effective reliever thanks in large part to helping the Mariners get out of the seventh inning by getting the last two outs. He faced five batters in the seventh and eighth and retired them all in order while striking out two.
The Mariners will be in action next this weekend, when they host Landmark Conference opponent Drew University for a three-game series. The games were originally scheduled to be played at Lower Roosevelt Field in Kings Point, but due to unplayable field conditions, the series has been moved to Baseball Heaven out in Yaphank, Suffolk County. On Saturday, March 21, the teams will play a double-header of two seven-inning games that starts at 12-noon. Then on Sunday, March 22, they'll meet again for a single nine-inning game that will also start at noon.
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