No. 9 baseball rallies past Montclair

Rensselaer baseball finished the week with a 2-1 record after rising to No. 9 in recent polls. The Engineers defeated the Castleton State College Spartans by a score of 12-8 at Robison Field on Friday, followed by a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Montclair State University Red Hawks on Saturday. However, a three-run 10th inning in a rematch against the Red Hawks on Sunday saw RPI as the victor, redeeming itself after the team’s second loss of the season. With the two wins and one loss, Rensselaer is now 8-2 on the year, while Castleton dropped to 2-7, and Montclair sits just over .500 at 5-4.

Troy’s beautiful weather on Friday afternoon beckoned students from their dorm rooms as the Engineers entertained a full-house against the Spartans. Fans were rewarded with a fast-paced, back-and-forth matchup between the non-conference rivals. Fueled by four home runs throughout the contest, Rensselaer overcame an early deficit to walk away with the 12-8 win.

With the Spartans ahead by four runs after only 1.5 innings of play, the Engineers’ bats fired up to pull the homestanding team to a 6-4 lead after the second inning. Senior third baseman Scott Robinson’s double with two runners on base started the charge by cutting the deficit to 4-1. After collecting their second run of the night, the Engineers tied the game with a two-run bomb from junior Billy Nikolski—his first of two home runs on the day. Senior catcher Patrick Reardon pulled RPI up 6-4 with a two-run blast of his own.

Despite an offensive second inning by the Engineers, the Spartans responded in the fourth inning with an unearned run. However, Rensselaer countered with three runs in the bottom of the frame to increase its lead to 9-5. The Engineers added three more runs over the next two innings, including Nikolski’s second homer of the night, and a two-run long ball from Robinson for the 12-5 lead.

Although the Spartans hit the scoreboard three more times in the eighth inning off a three-run homer from freshman Ryan Zielinski, it was not enough to overcome the deficit. Leading the way for the Engineers was Nikolski, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs; Reardon, who went a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs; and Robinson, who hit 3-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs. Senior first baseman Andrew Krushelnyski also was a perfect 2-for-2 with a run scored.

Sophomore pitcher Dan Duval earned the win in relief, allowing only one hit and one earned run through four innings of play. For the Spartans, senior starter Ken Cook shouldered the loss after allowing six runs on seven hits in only two innings.

Hot off another win, the Engineers headed south to Montclair, N.J., to take on the Red Hawks on Saturday. Despite strong play from the Engineers, a complete game three-hitter from Montclair sophomore hurler Sean Hille kept RPI at bay, with Rensselaer falling 5-2 at Yogi Berra Stadium.

Reardon added one of two runs on the afternoon. After retiring the first 10 batters faced on the day, Hille finally let up a one-out double to RPI freshman Jonny Rio. Reardon took advantage of a runner in scoring position by blasting a triple deep to right center field as Rio crossed home for RPI’s first score. Senior Camden Mamigonian followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Reardon, cutting the deficit to 3-2 after four innings.

Unfortunately for the Engineers, Hille would regain his ground and not allow a base runner to reach past second base for the remainder of the game. Despite reaching first on a fielder’s choice in the sixth inning, and advancing to second base off a steal, Rio would be stranded as the next Engineer up to bat grounded out. The next best opportunity for RPI was in the seventh as Mamigonian singled to open the inning, but was countered by a double-play grounder a few batters later.

Senior Andrew Mondo took the loss for RPI as he allowed 11 hits and only four runs in seven innings of play. In addition, Mondo struck out four and walked five, bringing his record this season to 2-1.

Coming off a tough loss on the road, Rensselaer bounced back with a win in extra innings to finish the two-game series. Mamigonian led the charge for the Engineers, going 3-for-5 at the plate, including a home run and the go-ahead RBI at the top of the 10th inning.

The Red Hawks jumped to an early lead with five runs in the third inning. However, Rensselaer responded in the fourth as Mamigonian blasted a single homer to cut the score down to 5-1. Continuing on that drive, RPI added five more runs in the fifth inning, taking the 6-5 lead off Krushelnyski’s two-run opposite-field single.

Montclair clawed back as Red Hawk freshman Jason Chesterman’s single brought home a base runner to tie the game at six. The game would stay knotted up until the top of the 10th when the Engineers broke free. Rio got to second base off an error, and after a fly-out, Mamigonian notched a single to bring home Rio as he barely beat the ball home. Krushelnyski increased Rensselaer’s lead with an RBI double to center field, as senior pinch hitter Noah Poissant singled to right field for the final run of the night. Junior righthander Mike Cieszko put down all three Montclair batters at the bottom of the 10th to seal the win for the Engineers.

RPI returns home for one final non-conference matchup before the start of Liberty League play. RPI once again hosts Castleton State on Wednesday, with the first pitch slated for 4 pm at Robison Field. Rensselaer then faces Clarkson University for a pair of double-headers, with Saturday’s game beginning at 1 pm, and Sunday’s first match starting at noon, with all four games played at Robison Field.