The Fairfield University baseball team, voted preseason favorites for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, had an uncharacteristic series loss against the University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans. The weekend games were marked by a slow-to-start pitching staff with lots of men reaching base and coming in on ground-outs. Despite the ultimate loss, the Stags did put on an offensive show when hot, with fiery late innings like Friday’s game that hopefully only show that the best is yet to come.  

Starting things off with Friday’s game, the afternoon atmosphere was perfect for some baseball, yet the Stags seemed to get off to a cold start defensively. The first five innings, led by starting pitcher Colin McVeigh ‘24, saw the Stags take the lead after losing one in the bottom of the 1st. Thanks to a walked-in RBI from outfielder TJ Schmalzle ‘26, a single from infielder Luke Nomura ‘26 to bring in 2 more and a single from infielder Dean Ferrara ‘25 to bring in another, the Stags were up 4-1 at the top of the 5th, right before McVeigh seemingly ran out of gas and gave up 3 more to make it an even 4-4 before being taken out, earning a final line of 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB and 3 K. 

RHP Jake Memoli ‘26 came in to support but unfortunately gave up a run against his first batter before the Stags retired the side and stopped the bleeding. Nomura then came up with a double in the top of the 6th, bringing the Stags back up to make it 6-5, which was then followed by a UNC error that outfielder and graduate student Ryan Strollo took advantage of, scoring another. The inning was capped with a triple from Ferrara down the right field line, earning him 2 RBI and making it 9-5 Stags. 

The Stags were silent after the 6th inning offensively, and Memoli gave up another 3 to give the Spartans a fighting chance at the ballgame, leaving the score 9-7 and earning a final line of 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB and 2 K. RHP Peter Phillips ‘26 went in for Memoli, to which the Stags retired the side with a flashy 5-4-3 double play and a final flyout. 

The bottom of the 9th could’ve very well been played into the Stag’s first win, but RHP Peter Ostensen ‘24, who came in for Phillips at the beginning of the side gave up a run on a wild pitch after filling the bases; the Stags gave up another on a ground-out RBI, forcing extra innings and ultimately leaving two men stranded in the top of the 10th and giving up another in the bottom of the 10th to make the final score 9-10. 

Hoping to even out the series on Saturday, the Stags put up one run in the first inning but were answered with three in the bottom of the 1st. The second inning only got worse, as the Stags struggled to retire the side and gave up five runs. By the end of the second, the Spartans had the eight runs they needed to win despite a rally comprised of a homer and RBI triple from infielder Matt Bergevin ‘24, an RBI single and run from a wild pitch from outfielder Matt Bucciero ‘26, an RBI double from Ferrara and an RBI ground-out from graduate student and catcher Ethan Hibbard between the 3rd and the 8th, to make the final score 7-8.  Starting pitcher Bowen Baker ‘24 saw a final line of 1.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB and 2 K, and earned the loss. 

Sunday’s game saw a leadoff triple from outfielder Matt Lussier ‘27 that was followed by a passed ball that brought him home, giving the Stags hope for a better outcome against the Spartans. The next score change was seen in the top of the 3rd, thanks to an RBI double from Hibbard. In the bottom of the 4th, the Spartans finally answered with a 2 RBI homer to even out the score, but the Stags fought back with a 2 RBI triple from Bucciero, an RBI single from Schmalzle and a 2 RBI homer from Nomura to put the Stags back on top with seven. Starting pitcher Ben Alekson ‘27 left the game in the 5th with an impressive line of 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER,1 BB, and 7 K for his first career start. Unfortunately, the Stags then lost the lead and then some, giving the Spartans 10 more unanswered runs by the time the final out was called. 

In gearing up for the first series of the season, three players were chosen for the Preseason All-MAAC squad: Matt Bergevin, Colin McVeigh and Matt Bucciero. Coming off a 37-win season, the Stags are met with high expectations and have the potential to extend their three-straight regular season title streak and reach the MAAC Championship Series. Fueling these expectations is the fact that the Stags had one of the most productive offenses in the country, with 9.4 runs per game, a .540 slugging percentage, a .424 on-base percentage and an impressive combined batting average of .321; the Stags also hit the most home runs by any team in the MAAC in its history (97) and scoring the second most runs overall in a single season. 

The Stags will be back in action against James Madison University in another three-game series starting this Friday at 3 pm. 

About The Author

- Freshman | Assistant Sports Editor | Political Science Major -

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