MANSFIELD, Conn. – With the bases loaded, two outs and trailing by three in the top of the ninth, Suffolk baseball's comeback was a swing away, but the Rams fell just short as they fell to No. 15 Keystone in Game 1 of the NCAA Northeast Regional at Eastern Connecticut State's Eastern Stadium.
Facing a new arm, Yei Andujar, and their backs against the wall in the top of the ninth, Keystone (34-9) handled Suffolk's (33-12) first two batters. Senior Rob Marks kept the Rams' hopes alive with a single to right and a walk by junior Seth Coiley made things interesting. Senior captain Jon Lapolla stayed calm and collected with a full count and loaded the bases for Jake Frasca with a walk. With the game on his shoulders, the freshman let his bat fly, but could not connect as the fourth-seeded Giants held on for the 5-2 victory.
A scoreless game held true over the first 3.5 innings, before Keystone broke things open in the bottom of the fourth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Kyle Turner hit Alex Herceg to give the Giants' their first run of the day. Julian Lanfranco followed single through the left side to quickly make it a 2-0 edge.
Looking to score, Suffolk was only able to knock one hit over the next two innings and Keystone tacked on three runs in the sixth to stretch its lead to five. Bill Nelson, who singled to center, came in on Lanfranco's sac bunt. Tony Hunter, who also singled, and Lanfranco each capitalized on Rams' errors to push the Giants' lead to 5-0.
Chuck Gibson took over the mound for the Rams in the seventh and held the Giants and Suffolk got on the scoreboard in the eighth. Coiley reached on a fielder's choice and was pushed over on a Lapolla single down the left line. A Frasca fly out to center moved Coiley to third, before Drew Carter loaded the bases with a walk. Coiley and Lapolla both came home on a Keystone error to make it a 5-2 game.
Gibson managed to keep the Giants from making their lead any bigger down the stretch, but the Rams could not complete the comeback.
Marks was the lone Ram to knock multiple hits on the day, while Lapolla and Sean Cameron each had one apiece. Turner suffered the setback on the hill, going 6.0 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and struck out eight. Gibson threw 2.0 innings of relief, giving up just two hits and fanning three.
Suffolk, the fifth seed, will play tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. against the loser of top-seeded Wheaton and eighth-seeded Salem State.