FAIRFAX, Va. - Back-to-back sacrifice flies in
the bottom of the ninth inning allowed the George Mason baseball team to rally
for a 7-6 win on Friday afternoon in the opener of its three-game set against
visiting Fairfield. Mason improved to 5-3, its fifth win in a row, while the
Stags dropped to 2-2.
The Mason bats started hot
against Fairfield, hitting around to start the game. Nick Allen led off with a
double to deep left field, and Tommy Vitaletti followed with his first home run
of the season hit hard to left field for a 2-0 advantage.
Still in the first, the Patriots
loaded the bases with one out for Derek Evans, who delivered an RBI single up
the middle to extend the lead to 3-0. After one run crossed the plate on a wild
pitch, Ray Toto put Mason's sixth hit on the board with an RBI single up the
middle, pushing the lead to 5-0.
From there, the Patriot bats were
essentially held at bay, as Fairfield pitching scattered just three hits from
the second through eight innings. In that time, the Stags began chipping away
at the lead.
A Mason error with two out in the
top of the sixth allowed Fairfield to bring in two runs, cutting into the
Patriot lead, 5-2. With a runner on and two out, the Patriots looked to get out
of the inning as Ryan Plourde hit a ground ball to first base. However, Tucker
Tobin misplayed the ball, allowing the runner to reach. The next two Stags
registered RBI singles, as Jack Giannini hit up the middle and Sebastian Salvo
went to left. Mark Maksimow came on in relief for the Patriots and got his
first batter faced to pop out to Tobin to end the threat.
Fairfield cut the deficit to just
one run, scoring two in the eighth inning. Rob LoPinto led off with a single to
second and came home to score on a Giannini single and error by the Patriots.
Plourde, who walked with one out, crossed the plate two batters later on a wild
pitch by reliever Sean Cabrera.
In the ninth, pinch hitter Mike Bennett
singled and was lifted for pinch runner Mike Maschi, who later tied the game at
5-all when scoring on Anthony Hajjar's base hit to center field. A Plourde
single inside the left field line allowed Alex Witkus to make it a 6-5 Stags
The Patriots rallied from their
brief deficit in the bottom half of the inning. Vitaletti took all four pitches
he saw for a leadoff walk, and a Duncan Satherlie double down the right field
line put runners on the corners with no outs. After Tobin was intentionally
walked to load the bases, Blaise Fernandez lifted a fly ball to center field
and Vitaletti scored on the sacrifice fly. In the next at-bat, Josh Leemhuis
repeated the feat, this time to right field as Satherlie came home for the
Allen, Satherlie and Fernandez
each recorded a pair of hits, while John Williams (2-0) earned the win despite
allowing the go-ahead Fairfield runs in the ninth. Kyle Capaldo (0-1) was
saddled with the loss. Mason starter Anthony Montefusco allowed two unearned
runs on four hits while striking out four in his 5.2-inning outing.
Three different Patriots recorded
multi-hit games as the offense staked Mason to a five-run lead after one
inning, and Mason withstood a Fairfield rally to stage the comeback victory. The
Stags also saw three different multi-hit performances, led by Jack Giannini's
two-RBI, 2-for-4 outing.
Mason and Fairfield will be back
at it on Saturday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. from Spuhler