Courtesy Trinity Sports Information
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. – The Kean University Cougars took advantage of six Trinity College Bantam errors to take an 8-5 win over the defending NCAA Champions in the opening round of the NCAA Baseball Championship Friday afternoon at Fox Cities Stadium. Trinity falls to 33-6 with its first loss in eight games and its first loss of the post-season (7-1), and will play Carthage College (38-9), which lost its opening game, 8-1, to the College of Wooster, in a loser’s bracket game tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. EST.
Trinity got off to a positive start, scoring in the bottom of the first inning on an infield hit and a stolen base by junior OF Jack Abbott (Longmeadow, Mass.), and a Kean error. Trinity senior co-captain Sean Killeen (Greenfield, Mass.) flied out to center, but Kean junior SS David Zavistoski (Edison, N.J.) threw the ball past second base and all the way into the Cougar bullpen to allow Abbott to score the game’s first run. Kean answered in the second inning, as Kean loaded the bases with none out against Trinity senior starter Jeremiah Bayer (Greenfield, Mass.) on two walks and a single by freshman 1B Lee Cavico (Hillsborough, N.J.). Senior C Mike Manganiello (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) followed with an RBI groundout, later followed by Bayer's third walk of the inning, but a double play liner to Bantam SS Robert Martin (Lowell, Mass.) ended the rally.
The Cougars took the lead in the third inning and did not trail after that, as Trinity left nine runners on base. DH D.J. Breckenridge reached first to open the third on an error by Bantam freshman 3B Alex LiDonni (Norwood, Mass.) and recorded two of Kean’s six stolen bases in the game to advance across the diamond. Freshman OF Ryan Gibbons (Glen Rock, N.J.) scored Breckenridge on a ground out and advanced to second on another Bantam fielding miscue, before scoring from third on a successful double steal.
Bayer and Kean senior RHP Pedro Rivera (Elizabeth, N.J.) recorded the next 17 outs without a run, before each team scored in the sixth inning. Kean went ahead, 4-2, on a single and a stolen base by Cavico, a throwing error by Killeen, and a sacrifice fly by freshman 3B Nick Ramagli (Emerson, N.J.), while the Bantams got the run back in the bottom of the frame on a double to left-center by junior OF James Wood (Windham, N.H.) and a two-out, run-scoring single up the middle by freshman DH Kevin Mortimer (Spencer, Mass.).
Kean extended its lead in the seventh inning, as Zavistoski led off with a fly ball to left that was misjudged in the Bantam outfield for a double, and scored on a single by Breckenridge. Gibbons drove in Breckenridge with an RBI single, but Trinity’s third double play of the game kept the Bantams in the game at 6-3. The Trinity offense came through for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut the lead to one at 6-5, highlighted by a two-out, two-run single by Wood. Martin had led off the inning with a base on balls and scored after two more walks and a wild pitch. The Cougars added insurance runs in both the eighth and ninth innings, having pushed Bayer’s pitch count to over 140, while Kean senior reliever Brandon Aich (Sayreville, N.J.) allowed just a ninth-inning double by Trinity junior 1B Kent Graham (Longmeadow, Mass.) over the final two innings to earn the save for Rivera.
Bayer allowed 10 hits and four earned runs over 8.1 innings with five walks and five strikeouts to take his first loss of the season against 12 wins and his first loss in 22 decisions in his two years as a Bantam. Rivera surrendered five hits and three earned runs with five K’s and five free passes to improve to 5-0. Wood finished 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI for the Bantam offense.