After a previously successful week that saw the Stags take two out of three against Manhattan College in a weekend series as well as picking up an additional win in a weekday tilt against Yale University, the Fairfield University baseball team continued its strong play this past week in matchups against Quinnipiac University and the University of Hartford. Playing a total of four contests between the two institutions, the Stags won all four to improve their overall record to 21-12 along with a 7-2 conference record in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play.
The Stags kicked off the week in a single-game date with in-state non-conference foe Quinnipiac University on Tuesday, April 11 at Alumni Baseball Diamond. The offense continued to perform at an elite level, hitting double digits in runs scored for the 15th time this season as they took the win, 13-3. Furthermore, every batter in the starting lineup managed at least one hit, combining for 16 hits and 24 base runners as a team overall. Quinnipiac began to suffer the damage at the bottom of the second inning, as the Stags managed to hit four consecutive singles in seven pitches, with the later two culminating in the first two runs of the outing off of the bats of catcher AJ Donofrio ‘23 and infielder Dean Ferrara ‘25. Infielder Mike Becchetti ‘23 then caused an even bigger dent, as he smashed a three-run blast, his tenth of the season, to cap off the five-run rally.
After the Bobcats brought home two of their own at the top of the third, the Stags stormed back by expanding their lead to six thanks to a flyout off the bat of Ferrara as well as singles from outfielder Ryan Strollo ‘23 and graduate student infielder Noah Lucier. Two innings later, at the bottom of the fifth inning, the Stags went on another major five-run rally. The fun started when back-to-back doubles came from both Becchetti and Lucier, who ended up going five-for-five at the plate during the outing. A wild pitch then brought Lucier home, which also saw designated hitter Matt Bergevin ‘24 advance to second. Outfielder Matt Bucciero ‘26 capped off the rally by blasting a two-run homer to extend the lead to 11, giving the Stags a double-digit lead.
That was all she wrote, as the Stags did not score again and only gave up one more run at the top of the eighth to take the win, 13-3. In addition to their blistering offensive act, the pitching staff proved to be effective in their own right. Right-handed pitcher Kevin Kell ‘26 started the frame by throwing three innings and allowing two hits and two earned runs in the process. Succeeding him were lefties Blake Helmstetter ‘24, Billy Fitzgerald ‘23, righty Emmett Tolis ‘24, lefty Evan Berta ‘24, and graduate student righty Luke Marshall, who combined for only five hits and seven strikeouts in six innings thrown, an effective performance from a strong bullpen.
Bergevin pointed out that even though the Stags set a program record in home runs last season, he feels that the balance between contact and power is enabling them to be a more productive unit overall this season.
“We’re a unit. I mean, Noah Lucia started the season as the number nine hitter and he’s leading the MAAC in doubles right now. So everyone is contributing no matter what role they’re in. Bringing in coach Faye this offseason to lead the unit has helped a lot, and he’s adjusted very well to each player and their respective skill sets.”
Following the win, the Stags played a home-and-home series with the University of Hartford, playing host to the Hawks on Friday, April 14 at Alumni Baseball Diamond, before heading up north to West Hartford, Conn. for a doubleheader that took place on Saturday, April 15. The Stags picked up where they left off, as they sparked a three-run triumph at the bottom of the first, as Pagliarni singled to right to bring back Becchetti to knot the score at one. After a Bergevin walk, Bucciero proceeded to bring both of them off of a two-run double to right-center to give the Stags their first lead of the afternoon.
Following a nice rebound from right-handed pitcher and graduate Jake Noviello at the top of the second in which he kept the bases empty with the exception of a walk, the Stags did further damage control at the bottom of the second with a four-run rally. A three-run bomb from Becchetti strengthened the Stags lead, giving the Eastchester, N.Y. native his 11th long ball of the campaign. Bergevin then hit a fly-out to center, bringing home Lucier, strengthening the Fairfield lead to six. The Stags proceeded to add one more to that lead to seven at the bottom of the third thanks to a fly out to right off a swing from Strollo.
The offensive juggernaut that is the Stags continued their rampage at the bottom of the fourth with outfielder graduate student Mike Handal bringing home Bergevin to start off a three-run frame. A walk issued to Bucciero and a wild pitch that advanced Bucciero to second and Handal to third set the stage for catcher Ethan Hibbard ‘23, who enabled them to come home after a two-run double down the left field line, giving the Stags their first double-digit advantage of the outing.
On the mound, Noviello pitched two more frames before being pulled after the sixth, surrendering only one run and six hits while sitting down four batters. Two more runs came at the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to back-to-back solo jacks from Bucciero and Donofrio, who each hit their second long balls of the season to push the Fairfield lead to 12. Hartford brought home three of their own at the top of the seventh before Bergevin helped Fairfield regain their double-digit advantage at the bottom of that frame thanks to a single to left that brought home his teammate, Lucier, to cap off the offensive stride. The Stags proceeded to take the win, 14-4. Once again, the Stags saw each of their hitters in their starting lineup collect at least one hit, providing a stacked offensive core that proved dividends once again.
The next day, the Stags drove an hour up north to the Knowledge Corridor in a doubleheader. The offense did not set off as many fireworks in the first contest, as the outing did not see any offensive action from either side for the first four innings. Stags right-handed pitcher Colin McVeigh ‘24 took the mound in this one, as he started off the game strong by only allowing one hit, while Robert Chaney took the mound from Hartford and kept the Stags offense in check through four. The top of the fifth saw Lucier chip in a hit to right that brought home Watson, giving the Stags their first run of the game.
The sixth inning saw the offense put three more runs on the Hawks, as Bucciero ripped a hit down the left field line to allow Pagliarini to score and advance Bergevin to third. A passed ball then ensued, as Bergevin scored and Bucciero advanced to second before Hibbard hit a double to left to bring home Bucciero to put the Stags in a much more comfortable position than they were previously.
McVeigh was pulled after six in which he successfully managed to make the Hartford bats go silent while allowing only two hits and striking out six batters. A two-run bottom of the seventh trimmed the Stags margin in half, putting Hartford in striking distance of changing the trajectory of the contest. The Stags put those hopes to bed when a Pagliarini single to right center at the top of the ninth brought home Strollo to give them a three-run lead. A Hartford miracle was diminished as they swung on and missed at the bottom of the ninth, giving the Stags a game one victory. Additionally, head coach Bill Currier secured his 800th career victory while managing the Stags, and according to Bergevin, he is now one of only 25 coaches in the country with this prestigious number.
“He’s a great leader. He’s a great guy,” Bergevin explains. “He doesn’t get in the middle of things a lot. He lets us play and he loves us and he wants us to show our talents out there. I’m really happy and proud of him. And I’m really honored and humbled to be a very small part in those 800 wins. There’s only 24-25 coaches right now that have that number. It’s a special group to be a part of. So he’s very deserving of that. It’s awesome.”
There was still more baseball left to play, as Fairfield played a shortened five-inning contest in game two of the doubleheader. The offense exploded for fireworks once again in this one, accumulating six runs across the first two frames. With the bases loaded at the top of the first, Bucciero walked to bring home Lucier to put the Stags on the board first. A home run derby then ensued at the top of the second, as Strollo hit a solo bomb to start things off before singles from Becchetti and Lucier opened things up for Pagliarini. Pagliarni proceeded to do what was best, and that was belting a bullet to deep center to strengthen the Fairfield lead to five, giving Pagliarini his thirteenth long ball of the campaign. A Bucciero single that brought home Bergevin capped off the five-run second inning explosion for the Stags.
After surrendering two at the bottom of the fourth, the Stags responded by scoring two of their own at the top of the fifth thanks to a Lucier single to right-center that saw Bechetti cross home plate, and Pagliarni tripling to the same spot to score Lucier, giving the Stags a six-run lead. That put a close to the scoring on the day, as the Stags swept the doubleheader, 8-2. Furthermore, right-handed pitcher Peter Ostensen ‘24 contributed by pitching all five frames, while striking out six to obtain his fourth win of the campaign.For more information on Fairfield Baseball and athletics as a whole, please visit www.fairfieldstags.com for more information.