Late innings runs helped the Clarkson University Baseball team take the opening two games of a four game set against Bard on Friday afternoon in Jack Phillips Stadium.
Clarkson improves to 10-11 on the year and 7-5 in the Liberty League. Bard drops to 8-12 with a 3-7 conference record.
In the first game, it took Clarkson's offense a long time to get going, but the Golden Knights did enough in the final three frames to take an 8-5 win.
Although Clarkson got base runners in each of the first four innings, none of them came on hits. To make matters worse, Bard took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Adam Carafotes single and then added three more runs in the top of the fifth on three hits.
However, with their backs against the wall, the Green and Gold came alive in the bottom of the fifth. Brad Pearson walked to start the inning, and then after a Clarkson out, Dom Pirro singled to right field for Clarkson's first hit of the game. After another Clarkson out, Cam Bando came through with a double to right center to score Pearson and move Pirro to third base. Ben Knauf followed with a single to right field that scored Pirro and Bando.
Clarkson's offense stayed hot in the sixth as the Golden Knights took their first lead of the game. Pinch hitter Nolan Duda worked a walk to start and then pinch runner Connor Dietrich moved up on a Nate Burns sacrifice bunt. Pearson struck out, but he was able to hustle down the line and reach first when Bard's catcher dropped the third strike and then made a throwing error. Chris Miller was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pirro roped a pitch into the right center gap to score Dietrich and Pearson. Fraser got a double of his own when he pulled one down the right field line as two more runs scored. After a Bando single, Clarkson added one more run when Knauf's sacrifice bunt scored Fraser.
Bard scored one run in the top of the seventh, but a line drive double play killed any chances of a longer rally as Clarkson closed out the win.
In the second game, runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings allowed Clarkson to withstand a late Bard rally and escape with a 5-4 win.
Clarkson wasted little time getting its offense going in the second game as the Green and Gold scored twice in the first. Both runs came on a Bando double to left center with Pirro and Miller scoring. Bard got two of their own runs in the top of the second though to retie at two, which is where the score stayed for the majority of the game.
It was not until the bottom of the sixth that Clarkson could finally break the deadlock. The tie was broken on one swing of the bat when Pirro led off the frame with a home run to left field, his third four-bagger of the season. Miller added an RBI single in the seventh to score Joe Stockman and Mike Messier's RBI bunt single gave Clarkson an extra insurance run that proved pivotal.
After a lead-off out, two straight Bard singles gave the Raptors a lifeline. A bunt by Quinn McInerney led to a Clarkson error that allowed two Raptors to come around and score and left McInerney on second base representing the tying run. Ryan Riley was able to get a strikeout followed a groundout to slam the door closed and pick up his second save of the year.
Ted Wilson started the first game on the mound for Clarkson and he went five innings, allowing four runs on six hits and one walk. Wilson also had five strikeouts. Riley entered that game in relief of Wilson and pitched the final two innings, giving up one unearned run on two hits and one walk. Riley got half of his six outs via strikeout to earn the victory. In the second game, Rory Corcoran got the victory thanks to his six inning performance. Corcoran gave up two runs, one earned, on two hits and three walks to go with two strikeouts. Mark Connor threw two and one third innings in relief and gave up two runs on two hits. Riley then recorded the final two outs.
Pirro reached base in seven of his eight plate appearances with five hits and two walks. Knauf had a team high three runs batted in in the first game while Bando had a pair of hits in each of the wins.
The two teams will meet for a second doubleheader on Saturday starting at 10:00 am.