RPI wrestles Golden Bears, split games

JUNIOR WESTON HAWKINS TAKES a lead off of third base, waiting for the opportunity to run home. (file photo)

The Engineers split last weekend’s double header against the Western New England Golden Bears, crushing them 8–0 in the first game, but falling short in an otherwise close second game 7–3.

Senior Jeff Sitarski battled back from an 0–2 count to a single in right centerfield. He stole second to put himself in scoring position, ripe for an RBI from a teammate. A lucky balk sent him to third. Then, a soaring hit from senior Jason Valente, which was caught by the centerfielder, gave Sitarski enough time to tag up and dash home.

Sophomore pitcher Brendan McNerney held the Golden Bears at bay. A foul-out and two strikeouts returned the Engineers to the bench.

Junior Ethann Meister began the top of the second with another solid hit, advancing to second on a passed ball. Senior Thomas Desmond saw four crummy pitches fly by, waiting for the pitch that never came. Despite not getting to swing the bat, Desmond made his way to first. With no outs and two men on base, junior J.T. Sawyer was given the signal to bunt. And a beautiful bunt it was, advancing the two baserunners and getting Sawyer to first.

The bases now loaded, junior Christian Spagnuola approached the plate. Although batting .300, this at-bat would not benefit the Engineers much. Spagnuola hit into a double play, getting himself and Sawyer out. The play did give Meister the time to run home, putting the Engineers up 2–0. Desmond scored on an RBI from junior Weston Hawkins, which ended scoring for the Engineers in the second.

Western New England went down one-two-three once again, unable to get a foothold on the Engineers. In the top of the third, Rensselaer sealed its fate. The Engineers were rewarded with hit after hit, and by the end of the inning the score read RPI 8, Western New England 0.

Two hits and a man on base due to a fielding error were all the Golden Bears could manage for the rest of the game. Nowhere near enough to overcome Rensselaer.

The teams seemed to switch roles for the second game of the afternoon. It was the Engineers who went down one-two-three in the top of the first, and the Golden Bears who scored two runs from two walks in the bottom of the inning.

In the bottom of the second, that lead was doubled. Two more walks scored thanks to a double right down the leftfield line. The Engineers were looking at a four run deficit to overcome.

But in the top of the third, Rensselaer came close to fixing the problem. Singles from senior Yahriel Jimenez and Hawkins put two men on base with one in scoring position. A sacrifice bunt from Sitarski achieved its goal, putting both men in scoring position. Desmond stepped up to send both home, cutting the run deficit in half. A hit from Meister was enough for Desmond to get home, and the Engineers only trailed by one.

The score remained stagnant for the next few innings, until the Golden Bears were able to pull away in the bottom of the seventh. A three-run home run put a win out of reach for RPI. The final score was 7–3.

The Engineers are now 13–14 overall. They will take on Vassar College on Saturday, April 22 at home, and then travel to Vassar on Sunday for the second half of the double header.