Clarkson baseball offense on again in 16-9 win over Rochester
Rochester, NY – A relentless offensive attack allowed the Clarkson University Baseball team to put up some big innings against University of Rochester, and reliever Mark Connor came on in a tough spot early to help lift the Golden Knights to a 16-9 win against the Yellowjackets on day two of the Liberty League Tournament.
The Golden Knights (23-15) advance to the Liberty League's Championship round for the eighth time in the 17-year history of the Liberty League/UCAA tournament. Clarkson also reached this point in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2017. The only other team in the Liberty League to make it this far this often is Rensselaer, which also has reached the league championship round on eight occasions.Clarkson's opponent for Saturday will be either RIT or University of Rochester, with the two teams playing an elimination game on Friday evening. Clarkson needs just one more win to advance, while both RIT and Rochester will need to win three straight, beginning with Friday night's game, to win the tournament.
In the top of the first, three of the first four hitters recorded hits to get one run across as Mike Tito and Tommy Bianchi opened with base hits before Michael Mieczkowski singled through the right side to plate Tito. A fielder's choice from Vincent Granuzzo sent a second run across and two batters later Mike Krick singled to center to score another run, putting Clarkson up 3-0 early.
Rochester took little time in responding, putting a four-spot up in the bottom half of the inning. Six of the first seven hitters reached, with the Harper Sy's single tying the game at 3-3 and sending Clarkson starter Mike Bubniak out of the game as a line drive came back and hit him in the leg. Mark Connor came on in relief for Clarkson and got out of the jam with a double play, but not before Rochester went up 4-3.
The Knights came back to tie the game in the top of the third as Nolan Duda singled home Mieczkowski, but the big blows came in a seven-run fifth. Mieczkowski plated Brad Pearson with a double to make it 5-4 and Granuzzo then singled home Mieczkowski for a two-run lead. Nolan Duda then doubled and Mike Krick walked to load the bases, giving Joe Stockman the chance to single up the middle for two more runs. After two outs, Tommy Bianchi plated two more with a single to right. Two more walks loaded the bases again and Granuzzo reached on a fielding error to allow one more run to score for an 11-4 Clarkson edge.
Bianchi and Pearson each singled in a run in the sixth to put Clarkson up 13-4, but Rochester showed signs of life on offense in the bottom half of the frame. Sy singled home Zach Miraz, who started the rally with a double. Sy then scored on a fielder's choice and David Rieth tripled home Joseph Rende to pull the Yellowjackets back within striking distance at 13-7.
Clarkson picked up a run in the seventh. A one-out triple by Nolan Duda put a runner in scoring position and runners were on the corners after a Mike Krick walk. Stockman popped up for the second out, but Mike Messier put pressure on the Rochester defense with a bunt and the play worked, as the Yellowjackets committed an error to allow Duda to finish the last 90 feet of his trip around the bases.
In the eighth, the Knights tacked on two more runs to their lead with some two-out magic. Brad Pearson began the rally with a double down the right field line and Mieczkowski sent him home with a single through the right side. Granuzzo then tripled home Mieczkowski to give the Knights a 16-7 lead. Miraz doubled in a pair in the bottom of the ninth, but the margin was too much to overcome for the Yellowjackets.
Connor went 8.2 innings of relief, striking out five while producing eight ground outs and 10 fly outs for his fourth win of the season. Clarkson's two through six hitters in the lineup all had at least three hits, led by the 4-for-5 performance from Nolan Duda. Mieczkowski was 3-for-4 with two walks and drove in three while also scoring three. Clarkson pounded out 21 hits overall as every player in the lineup recorded at least one.