Courtesy of GoBonnies.com
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – In game one of their scheduled four-game set, the St. Bonaventure baseball team and Maine needed 10 innings to settle a thrilling contest.
That merely set the stage for Sunday’s battle less than 24 hours later.
St. Bonaventure and Maine packed in enough drama at Miller Park’s Little Fenway to be remembered for years, ultimately going 18 innings before the Black Bears finally triumphed, 5-4.
Fittingly, the final inning was adrenaline-pumping.
Maine (5-4) pushed ahead with two-out magic. Lou Della Fera singled with two away, moving into scoring position with a steal of second. He came home on a double from Tyler Schwantz to break a 4-4 deadlock.
The Bonnies (1-4) nearly tied it in the bottom of the 18th. David Vaccaro led off with a double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Alex Schutz. With Jared Baldinelli at the plate, the Bonnies attempted a squeeze to force home Vaccaro. Pitcher Matthew Pushard fielded the bunt and made the tag of Vaccaro, however, ending Bona’s best chance to continue the marathon.
St. Bona had previously kept the game alive in unlikely fashion. After both teams went scoreless from the sixth inning on, Maine pushed ahead with a run-scoring single in the 15th. The Bonnies answered, though, as Aaron Phillips led off with a single before stealing second and third. He would tie the game by crossing the plate on a passed ball for a 4-4 score.
When all was said and done, the game was over five hours and 50 minutes old and the two teams combined to use 11 pitchers. Bona pitching limited Maine to nine hits over the 18 frames with Christopher Bec (three) and Jonathan Bennett (two) combining for five.
For the Bonnies, it was 13 hits with Phillips, Vaccaro, Taishi Terashima and David Hollins all collecting two each.
St. Bonaventure struck first as Hollins ripped a double off the replica of Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” in left to score Cole Peterson who had drawn a one-out walk to get aboard.
That lead would be short-lived, however. After striking out the side in the first, freshman starter Casey Vincent ran into trouble in the second as the Black Bears answered for a pair of runs.
Maine made it a 3-1 score with a run in the fourth, but Vincent did nice work to avoid further damage. Maine loaded the bases with no outs and a run in, but a 1-2-3 double play and another groundout back to the mound ended the threat.
St. Bonaventure got a run back in the fifth. Black Bears starter Jonah Normandeau retired 10 straight batters after his trouble in the first before Vaccaro singled to left to start the fifth inning. Vaccaro moved into scoring position with a steal of second, going to third on a single by Baldinelli and finally scoring on an RBI groundout from Tommy LaCongo.
The Bonnies knotted the score in the sixth. Peterson singled, stole second and went to third on an infield hit by Phillips. Peterson would later score on a wild pitch for the tie.
Both teams had golden opportunities in the seventh and eighth. Bona picked up a seventh inning leadoff double from LaCongo, but could not get him home. Then, in the eighth, Maine loaded the bases with one out before the Bonnies ‘pen put out the fire. Donovan Moffat was called upon first, coaxing a fielder’s choice with the runner from third thrown out at home. It was then T.J. Baker who moved to the hill and forced a pop up on the infield to retire the side and preserve the tie.
In the ninth, Bona had another chance to break the stalemate and walk off with a win. Terashima lined a one-out double to the left center gap and moved to third on a ground out. Another grounder on the right side retired the side, though, and sent the game to extras.
Vincent went five innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits. Fellow freshman Danny Madden worked 2.1 scoreless relief innings with Baker finishing with 5.1 scoreless frames. James Wetter went two innings, allowing a run on one hit, and Murphy O’Brien (0-1) was the fourth Bonnies freshman to pitch, surrendering a run on two hits over three innings.
Pushard (1-0) earned the win for Maine with three scoreless relief innings.
Due to the length of Sunday’s game, the contest set for Monday at 10:00 a.m. between the Bonnies and Black Bears has been scratched. After a day off, the two teams will finish their shortened series Tuesday at noon.
Vincent and Madden both had new career highs in strikeouts – Vincent fanned five batters and Madden had four.
Baker had by far his longest outing as a Bonnie. In 23 appearances last season, his first with the program, his previous long outing was 1.2 innings, twice.
At one point, Baker retired 13 straight Maine batters between the eighth and 12th innings. His final line: 5.1 innings, no runs, one hit, one walk and three strikeouts.
Hollins registered his first multi-hit contest with the Bonnies.
Before the game-winning run scored, Bona relievers had combined for 12 innings of one-run ball.
Della Fera’s 18th inning single was his only time to reach base in eight at-bats on the day. Schwantz, meanwhile, was 0-for-5 before his game-winning double.
The Bonnies swiped six bases, led by Phillips with three stolen bases. Peterson had two and Terashima one.