Baseball rockets up League with seven game win streak

Engineers enter final week of regular season play after weekend series sweep of Bard

SENIOR CAPTAIN SECONDBASEMAN ANDREW KALISH PREPARES to make a play in the infield during the Engineers’ game against Skidmore College April 9. RPI will finish their regular season this weekend with two games at St. Lawrence University. Kalish is batting .316 for his season combined with 12 RBIs in 31 games started.

On Sunday, April 27, RPI men’s baseball hosted Bard College for its final home games of the regular season. The Engineers entered the doubleheader having won five games in a row and six of their last seven, including a sweep of Bard the previous afternoon.

In the opening game of the afternoon, Rensselaer started its ace pitcher, senior Tim Gallagher, against Bard’s JP Fisher. In the top of the first inning, Fisher led off with a double to right field. Then, a groundout allowed Fisher to take home from second and give Bard a 1-0 lead. But, the lead wouldn’t last.

In the bottom of the first, a clutch, two-out single by sophomore centerfielder Nick Annunziata drove in juniors Tyler Listing and Tim Lesuer to give RPI a 2-1 advantage after an inning of play.

The following three half innings went by quickly as neither team managed to get a single runner on base. But that changed when Lesuer reached base for a second time and senior right fielder Al Mersman followed with a single to left. With runners on first and second, senior designated hitter Shane Matthews lined the ball into short left field, allowing Lesuer to score and make the score 3-1 RPI.

In the bottom of the fourth, RPI tallied two fast outs. But trickling singles by junior shortstop Nick Palmiero and sophomore catcher Chris Holomakoff put runners on first and second for Lesuer. Once again, Lesuer delivered, driving the ball into center field and bringing in Palmiero to make the score 4-1 Engineers.

Bard’s second and final run of the baseball game came in the top of the sixth inning. With two runners on and only one out, Bard’s Adam Carafotes dribbled a slow roller to Lesuer at third base. In a desperate effort to get Carafotes out at first, Lesuer rushed the throw, sailing it out of senior first baseman Andrew Kalish’s reach and into right foul territory. Fortunately for the Engineers, only one run scored. With the pressure turning up, Gallagher delivered with a skillful pick-off of Carafotes at first base. A subsequent groundout to Palmiero got the Engineers out the inning.

In the top of the seventh, RPI nearly blew its two-run lead. After Gallagher allowed a walk and a single, his outing was over. Then, his reliever, sophomore Stephen Schiavone, hit the first batter he faced. RPI had reached the end of the line. One more hit and the game was tied. But the icy nerves of Schiavone proved too much for Bard as a strikeout and groundball force-out at second ended the Raptors’ chances of a comeback. The save was Schiavone’s first of the season.

With the win, Gallagher moves to 5-0 on the season and improves his ERA to 1.94.

In the second game of the doubleheader, RPI came back from a 3-0 deficit after five and a half innings to win 8-3. Junior pitcher Adam Kalish picked up his first win of the season with three innings of solid shutout work.

In the top of the first Bard took a second 1-0 lead on catcher Alec Montecalvo single up the middle. Later, in the fourth, Bard designated hitter Dominic Stegall blasted a double to right field, driving in Montecalvo to make it 2-0 Bard. Then in the sixth, centerfielder Zach Ward sacrifice-bunted to bring home right fielder Jack Hawke.

The game was slowly slipping away from RPI’s control. Not that Bard had been lighting up the stat sheet, but Rensselaer had tallied zero hits in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position through five innings. If they were to win, that needed to change. And it did.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and runners on second and third, Lesuer once again came up big, singling in between Bard’s first and second basemen to drive in both runners and make it a 3-2 game after six.

After Kalish retired the side in the top of the seventh, RPI broke out in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, freshman pinch hitter Steven Wells drove a timely two-RBI single to right field and gave Rensselaer a 4-3 lead. Then, after a senior catcher Eric Kozak walk, Lesuer came through again, bouncing a single up the middle to drive in two more runs.

In the bottom of the eighth, Annunziata’s single to left gave RPI its final tally of eight runs.

RPI’s record improves to 22-10 and 11-7 in the Liberty League with its sweep of Bard. Bard falls to 3-22-1 overall and 0-16-1 within the conference following this pair of defeats. This weekend, RPI will travel to St. Lawrence University to take on the Saints for a pair of Liberty League doubleheaders to wrap up the regular season.