Potsdam, NY - With opportunistic baserunning, the Clarkson University Baseball team was able to edge out a 11-6 victory over Rensselaer in the opener of Sunday's doubleheader, but walk-off home run ended the Golden Knights chances for a split as the Engineers salvaged a split with a 7-4 victory in the nightcap at Jack Phillips Stadium.
The Golden Knights moved to 12-19 overall and 9-13 in the Liberty League, while Rensselaer saw its record move to 23-10 overall and 15-7 in conference games. Clarkson closes out the regular season next weekend with a pair of doubleheaders against St. Lawrence University, and Rensselaer finishes off the conference slate with games against Skidmore College.
Despite gaining just eight hits in the opener, the Golden Knights were able to plate 11 runs in the first game, including seven in the final two frames. Clarkson did, however, get off to a solid start by scoring a pair in the top of the first inning. Bobby Derico (Watervliet, NY) reached on an error and then moved up to third on a John Coleman (Potsdam, NY) single to right. Matt Jenack (Massena, NY) followed with a sacrifice fly and Dan Lenney (Clifton Park, NY) followed with a single to give Clarkson a 2-0 lead. That advantage would expand to four in third as Tim Beninati (Schoharie, NY) delivered a two-run single to plate Coleman and Jenack, who had led off the inning with consecutive walks and were moved up on a sacrifice bunt.
In the bottom half of the third, Rensselaer cut the lead in half on a two-run single by Tim LaSuer, and in the fifth the Engineers took the lead with three runs. Shane Matthews plated Al Mersman with a one-out single and Michael Croke sent two more home with a run-scoring single to center.
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the sixth, Clarkson tallied five runs to regain the lead. Kyle Henchey (Rensselaer, NY) hit a bases loaded single and two batters later Coleman doubled in a pair with a two-out bases loaded hit. Jenack then hit the next pitch to drive in two more runs for the Knights for a 9-5 edge. Rensselaer scored one in the bottom half of the sixth on a sacrifice fly, but Clarkson put any question of a comeback out of mind with two more runs in the top of the seventh inning.
John Coleman went 2-for-3 but reached base four times with a pair of walks to go along with his two hits. He scored three times and also drove in two runs. For Rensselaer, Al Mersman went 2-for-3 and scored three runs from the nine-spot in the lineup. Greg Jasek (Chittenango, NY) was roughed up a bit in his outing, but still claimed a complete-game victory, allowing eight hits in seven innings and striking out four.
Game two started off much the same as the first, with Clarkson plating a pair in the top of the first inning. Tim Beninati singled home David Wixted (Ballston Lake, NY), who led off the inning with a single, and Nolan Driscoll forced in another run with an RBI-groundout to score John Coleman. Rensselaer wouldn't get on the scoreboard until the bottom half of the fifth inning. Tyler Listing doubled to left, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then raced home on a grounder against a drawn-in infield. In the bottom half of the sixth, the Engineers scored three thanks to a single to left from Michael Croke and a two-run single from Chris Holomakoff for a 4-2 lead.
In the top of the seventh, the Golden Knights cut the deficit in half when David Wixted reached on an error, stole second, and then came around on another infield error. In the top of the eighth inning, Clarkson tied the score up at 4-4 when Jarrod Mattingly (Philadelphia, NY) hit a two-out single to center to score Justin Rebhun (East Greenbush, NY).
However, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Engineers put a pair of runners on with back-to-back walks and with two outs and a full count, Jonny Rio hit a walk-off three-run homer to left to end the game and earn the Engineers the split.
Coleman, Beninati, and Nolan Driscoll (Troy, NY) each had two hits for Clarkson in the second contest, while Rio and Listing also had two hits for Rensselaer. Jared Jensen gained the victory for Rensselaer, allowing 10 hits in a nine-inning effort, giving up two walks and also striking out two.