Heading into four games against the Rochester Institute of Technology with a 3-7 record so far, RPI baseball was looking to turn around its season with some positive results. Fortunately, that is exactly what the team did as it split the first doubleheader and swept the next two games the following day.
Junior pitcher Mike Campisi started game one and put in a stellar performance. Campisi’s seven innings of shutout pitching included only three hits and eight strikeouts. With Campisi shutting down RIT, the Engineers took the lead in the third. Junior Chuck Erickson led off with a single and took third on a double by sophomore Al Mersman. Junior Jonny Rio brought home Erickson with a groundout, and then sophomore Andrew Kalish reached on a single to shortstop, scoring Mersman. With two runs in, RPI was not done. Senior Kyle LaVigne was hit by a pitch and advanced to first while junior Tanner Boucher took advantage with a double to right that scored both Kalish and LaVigne.
The Engineers added runs in the fourth and fifth innings, including a homerun by senior Art Levenson that gave RPI the 5-0 lead in the fourth. A final run was scored in the fifth as RPI went on to close out the game with a 6-0 advantage.
The back end of the first doubleheader did not end as well as the first. Despite jumping out to an early lead, the Engineers fell behind and their comeback attempt fell short.
RPI kicked off the scoring in the third as a Kalish single scored Rio. A failed pickoff attempt in the fourth and a double by Erickson lead to Boucher scoring the second run of the game. However, things began to go downhill as RIT managed to capitalize on a five-hit inning to score four runs and take a 4-2 lead.
RPI added another run in the fifth and managed to tie the game in the eighth off a homerun by LaVigne. However, this tie was quickly broken as a double, a groundout, and a single by RIT gave it the eventual winning run with a score of 5-4.
The next day, RPI started out well again as it took a three-run lead by fourth inning. After a two-run fifth for RIT, the Engineers rounded the bases again in the sixth. Then the excitement started as RIT scored two runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game.
With the knotted at four, LaVigne stepped up to lead off the seventh for RPI. After a groundout to second base, Boucher grounded out to second, leaving the Engineers with two outs in the seventh and no runners on base. The situation did not look promising, however, as Levenson and sophomore Eric Kozac were both hit by pitches during solid at bats, putting them in scoring position. With two on and two outs, freshman Jimmey Foley hit a walkoff single to centerfield to give RPI the 5-4 victory.
The final game of the weekend did not finish as close as the previous two despite as close opening half of the game. RIT ended the first inning with one run scored. RPI then took the lead with a three-run bottom half that included a LaVigne RBI as well as a steal of home following a failed pickoff attempt. RIT scored two runs in the third inning as well as in the fifth to give the home team a 5-3 lead. The Engineers came out strong and once again eliminated their opponent’s lead with a four-run inning that featured a three-run homer by Erickson.
With a 7-5 lead, the Engineers put the game away in the eighth. A monster seven-run inning included a Kopacz grandslam that left RIT with no way back into the game. The Engineers finished the game 14-5 and won three of the four games in the series.
The third win of the weekend gave Head Coach Karl Steffen his 700th career victory. His career record is now 700-345-3. Steffen hopes that the Engineers will continue this strong play as they take on Clarkson University in a pair of doubleheaders at Robison Field this Saturday and Sunday.