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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
Ninth-Inning Drama Leads Baseball Past Fairfield, 7-6
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 03/01/2013

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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 lead.

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 walk-off win.

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 Field.