By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, NY — A late rally fell short, and a four-game winning streak came to an end.
Monroe Community College left the bases loaded in the ninth inning of the night cap as the Mercyhurst NE Saints swept a WNYAC doubleheader (5-0/11-10) at Tribune Field, Thursday afternoon.
Monroe looked poised for a walk-off win but had to settle for a angst.
“That one hurt,” Monroe head coach Dave Brust said. “It’s an opportunity lost.”
Ellington Hopkins put the home nine in position to win or least tie with a triple to straight away center that scored two, but the Tribunes failed to capitalize.
Mercyhurst reliever Marcus Gunter stopped the threat with a pair of strike outs and a ground ball to end the game.
“Can’t ask for a better situation,” Brust added. “It was the meat of our lineup. That should spell at least a tie ballgame.”
Monroe erased an early six-run deficit only to have the Saints regain the lead.
“That was a wild game,” Mercyhurst NE coach Dan Bertolini said. “I’m just excited that we’re able to get the two wins today.”
With the wind blowing out, Drew Delsignore snapped a seven-all tie with two-run home run in the eighth, and Mercyhurst never trailed again.
“He put a good swing on it,” Bertolini stated. “He’s been hitting the ball well all year. That really sparked us.”
Trailing 7-1, Andrew Segar started the stanza with a single to center. Luke Brust moved the runner with a ground ball to the right side of the infield, and LaCongo doubled down the left field line scoring Segar. Merrill drove in a run with a base hit. Pringle singled through the left side, and Hopkins loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch.
After Jimmy Latona forced home a run with a base on balls, Vaccaro plated two with a line drive to left center. Angel Diaz knotted the score at seven with an RBI single to right, and the Tribunes had new life.
“There were so many ups and downs in that game,” Bertolini noted. “So many great moments, so many not-so-good moments. We went flat there a couple innings in the middle of the game.”
Monroe looked in control when David Lawrence came out of the bullpen in the seventh and retired the side in order including two strike outs, but the Saints responded an inning later highlighted by Delsignore’s round tripper.
“It sparked us a little bit late in the game,” Bertolini added.
Mercyhurst scratched across two unearned runs in the ninth. Gunter singled and moved to second on a Cody Pitzo sacrifice bunt. When Jake Bulick reached on an infield throwing error, Gunter came around to score. Brian Casiano made it an 11-8 game with a base hit through the right side.
Monroe committed four errors on the day. Mercyhurst made just one fielding miscue.
“They didn’t kick it around,” Brust said.
Jim Solano scattered four hits, struck out six and walked two for the win in game one.
“He’s been lights out for us all year,” Bertolini commented. “He throws strikes, commands the strike zone.”
The right-hander set down the last seven he faced and only allowed back-to-back two-singles to Pringle and Hopkins over the last four innings.
“He beat a team that can really hit,” Bertolini noted. “I was pretty proud of his effort today.”
Delsignore brought home two in a four-run third. The Tribs almost escaped the inning unscathed when Diaz nearly made a diving play on a Casiano double over the bag at first. The ball kicked off Diaz’s glove instead of what could have been a bang-bang inning-ending double play. Delsignore followed with the next at bat.
Delsignore drove in six on the afternoon with four hits and a sacrifice fly.
Pringle collected four hits and scored three runs for MCC on the afternoon.
Latona went 4-for-7 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Hopkins chipped in with three hits, two RBI and a run scored.
Luke Brust had two hits, a walk and an RBI.
Diaz reached on five occasions with three walks and two hits.
Monroe (8-12/0-2) hosts Erie Community College on Friday. The doubleheader is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start. Onondaga CC visits Tribune Field, Saturday for another 1 p.m. first pitch.