Fairfield baseball split a doubleheader with the Monmouth Hawks this Saturday, winning the first game 7-1 and losing the second 2-0. Fairfield, which won its fifth conference series, moves to 20-15 overall and to 10-4 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Stags are a game away from first place in the MAAC standings behind Siena (10-2).

It was the battle of the nicknames in game one as Fairfield pitcher EJ Ashworth ‘15 went against Monmouth pitcher T.J. Hunt. Ashworth led the team to victory in game one, pitching his first complete game of the year. He gave up just one run on nine hits and struck out three batters.

“The fastball was working and the curveball was good today,” said Ashworth. “I had some good changeups and there were plays being made behind me.”

The Stags gave Ashworth some run support when they got the chance in the bottom of the first inning. Junior Dean Sadik led off with a double and came around to score on a single by Ryan Plourde ‘14 to give the Stags a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the next inning, Ashworth got into one of the many jams he was put into on the afternoon. With runners on second and third bases with no outs, Ashworth was able to get the next batter to ground out to third and get the runner out at home plate. Two more ground outs to follow would end the frame.

“Getting the ground balls for double plays was huge,” said Ashworth about getting out of such situations.

Fairfield would give him some more run support in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore Jake Salpietro tripled to drive in both Plourde and Alex Witkus ‘15 to make the score 3-0 Stags.

Monmouth scored their only run of this game in the top of the next inning off an RBI single by catcher Connor White. The Stags answered by scoring another three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior Sal Ciccone bunted for a base hit, but a wild throw allowed Ciccone to move to second and Brendan Tracy ‘16 to score. A sacrifice bunt by Witkus plated Billy Zolga ‘15 and extended Fairfield’s lead to 5-1. With two outs, Rob LoPinto ‘14 doubled down the right field line to score Ciccone and make the score 6-1.

“It just clicked for us,” said Salpietro about the offensive outburst in the game. “Everyone was hitting. When everybody’s hitting, I think we’re the best hitting team in the league.”

The Stags would tack on one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning off a single by Sadik.

In game two, Fairfield sent Mike Wallace ‘16 to the mound who was coming off a complete game shutout. Wallace would pitch 6.1 innings while allowing two runs on nine hits with three strikeouts.

The Hawks got their bats going early in this game. An early single followed by a double would drive in the first run for Monmouth, giving them an early 1-0 lead.

Monmouth starter Chris McKenna was dominant in this game, holding Fairfield to just four baserunners through the first five innings. The Stags got their best opportunity to score in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sadik led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice by LoPinto. Plourde was intentionally walked to put two on for Salpietro, who advanced Sadik to third with a fly ball. However, Monmouth ended the threat by getting Jack Giannini ‘12 to pop out.

“The pitcher came out and really shoved,” said Salpietro about the silence of the bats in the second game. “He worked well and had all three pitches going for him and threw a good game. Also, we were just missing the key hits.”

Once Wallace left the mound in the top of the seventh, three other pitchers came on to finish the game. Monmouth had their best chance to take advantage of the relief pitchers in the seventh. Monmouth loaded the bases, but only managed one insurance run to make the score 2-0.

The Stags threatened Monmouth again in the bottom of the seventh. Tracy led off with a double while Ciccone reached on an infield single to put runners on first and third with one out. The Hawks were able to get out of the jam, though, and keep the Stags off the board the rest of the way.

Though the Stags were only able to split the games on Saturday, they feel confident about facing their upcoming opponents the rest of the season.

“We feel great. We just have to keep taking series from teams. That’s all it is,” said Salpietro.

The Stags will play Sacred Heart on April 23 before heading up to face Siena, the team currently in first place in the MAAC, on April 26 and 27.


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