The Fairfield University baseball team collected just one win this past weekend in a three-game series against the NJIT Highlanders. Both offensive and defensive highlights were part of the weekend of baseball, but Fairfield failed to come out on top for two of the three games. The Stags are now 7-14 overall.

Game One

Senior left-handed starting pitcher Blake Helmstetter went six innings in game one, with an ultimate final line of 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB and 7 K. The Stags took advantage of a scoreless start to the game, as Hibbard brought home junior third-baseman Dean Ferrara who had stolen second earlier. 

Being up by two by the second inning, Helmstetter gave up two doubles and a single, which pushed NJIT even with Fairfield at 2-2. The damage was not done, as a walk with full bases put them above the Stags at 2-3 going into the bottom of the second. 

Following NJIT’s three-run inning, sophomore shortstop Luke Nomura hit his third home run of the season past the left field line, evening out the score to 3-3.

Both teams’ offenses quieted down for the next seven innings, with only a run scored on a sacrifice bunt in the fifth for NJIT breaking up the innings of silence. By the top of the seventh, the Stags had switched to Senior RHP Colin McVeigh to relieve Helmstetter. McVeigh kept NJIT under control but slipped up in the top of the ninth and gave up a 2-run homer, making it 6-3 going into the bottom of the inning.

Leading up to the ninth, the Stags were stuck in a pattern of popups, ground-outs and fly-outs, but managed to snap out of it in the hopes of rallying a walkoff. Graduate student second baseman Zach Selinger singled to left field, giving sophomore catcher JP Kuczik an opportunity to pinch hit and double, bringing Selinger home and cutting down their deficit to two runs. 

With two runs to go, graduate student center fielder Ryan Strollo embraced the pressure and singled to right field, bringing home junior Nick Sturiono who pinch-ran.

At 5-6, with one run left to send the game into extra innings, Ferrara managed to reach first on a fielder’s choice, to which NJIT caught Strollo at second base and ended the ballgame.

Game Two

Seeking a double-header split in the nightcap, senior starting left-handed pitcher Bowen Baker brought his best stuff and struck out the first three batters faced. Powerful pitching was the highlight of Friday’s nightcap, with skillful appearances coming out of each Stag pitcher that touched the mound and one collective earned run.

The Stags’ offense was ready to go by the bottom of the second, with excellent discipline at the plate resulting in Hibbard walking and advancing to second on a wild pitch. Sellinger also walked, and Kuczik followed with a RBI single. Another two walks followed, and another run was scored. Taking advantage of NJIT’s complicated relationship with the strike zone, Ferrara hit a 2 RBI single to right field, capping the Stags’ scoring at four runs. 

The Stags’ 4-0 lead was unanswered until the fourth inning until they managed to string together a 2 RBI single.

After stranding two men on base in the bottom of the fourth, the Stags put in sophomore RHP Kevin Kell to relieve Baker who had a final line of 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB and 6 K. 

The Stags decided they had unfinished business to take care of and threw a party in the sixth inning. With two men on base, senior first baseman Matt Bergevin ripped one to left field to collect 3 RBIs. Hibbard got in on the action and hit a solo shot to left field, leaving the Stags with eight runs in total going into the seventh. Kell’s three shutout innings were the highlight of his final line which was 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB and 1 K. 

First-year RHP Ben Alekson took the mound in the top of the eighth, to which NJIT’s final words came with a RBI sacrifice fly to make it 8-3. 

Graduate student RHP Jack Erbeck pitched a perfect ninth inning and struck out two. Ultimately, the lead was too much to overcome for NJIT and the score remained stagnant to end the ballgame, earning Fairfield their doubleheader split.

Head Coach Bill Currier commented on the Stag bats, saying “Other than the two home runs, our hitters took many good pitches to hit or missed pitches by way of fly balls today.” Addressing the unusual performance from the team, he added “We were fortunate to split with our defense and hitting decisions today.”

Game Three

In a game marked with 23 baserunners and 17 of them being left stranded, Fairfield bats had trouble clearing the bases during their last game against NJIT. In search of a series win, graduate student starting RHP Kyle Lesler had a rocky start and gave up three runs from a home run and RBI single. Fairfield provided a little run support with a sacrifice fly RBI from sophomore right-fielder Matt Bucciero, but the Stags remained down by two.

NJIT kept their rally going, scoring another two runs from singles. Senior RHP Peter Ostensen replaced Lesler to get the final three outs, and the Stags answered with two runs of their own. Both Kuczik and Sturino walked, Bergevin brought Kuczik home with a sacrifice fly and Hibbard kept the runners going with a single to send Sturino home. 

By the top of the third, the Stags cut their deficit to 3-5. This did not deter NJIT, however, as they picked up another two runs from a double. The Stags were silenced with a man left on base in the third but made up for it by having a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth and then scoring a run off a Hibbard RBI single.

The score was paused at 4-7 until the bottom of the sixth when NJIT pitching had trouble commanding the plate and gave up a run 100% generated from either walks or a hit-by-pitch. The same situation occurred for the Stags, though, as they also lost a run from a wild pitch. The score was 5-8 going into the 8th and stayed there through the end of the ballgame, giving NJIT the series win.

About The Author

- Freshman | Assistant Sports Editor | Political Science Major -

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