Walk-off: Buckley on the money in the 9th
Quinnipiac head coach Dan Gooley knew his team couldn’t get swept against Northeast Conference rival Sacred Heart. Ray Buckley did everything he could to prevent it from happening.
Buckley hit a walk-off RBI double, driving in Mike Bartlett to seal a 6-5 win over the Pioneers in the closing game of a four-game series Sunday at QU Baseball Field.
“Every single game is a fight because only four teams get into the postseason,” Gooley said. “You have to look at it like this win today might get you a conference championship or might get you into the postseason. A loss today, you could lose the conference championship and you might be the fifth team in.”
Quinnipiac was blown out in Sunday’s first game, 14-2, but came back in the second to split the second doubleheader against Sacred Heart (12-13, 5-7 NEC) in as many days.
“This one is nice since we were looking not to get swept in the last game,” Buckley said, “so we were looking to pull at least one out for this series.”
The Bobcats (12-10, 8-4) remain tied atop the NEC with Monmouth, which split a doubleheader with Central Connecticut State Sunday.
Buckley drove a two-strike pitch by Liam Rafferty into the left-center field gap, scoring Bartlett, who singled with one out.
“He started me out with a fastball and then a curve, so I was pretty confident,” Buckley said. “He struck out a couple people last inning on fastballs, so I was pretty confident he was going to throw a fastball, so I just jumped on it and hit it pretty well to center.”
Joe Poletsky went 5-for-9 with two RBIs in the doubleheader, including a three-hit game in game one. Buckley and Chris Migani each had two RBIs, and Migani and Ben Farina each had three hits.
The Bobcats were down 5-1 after the three, but Buckley hit an RBI single in the fourth and Migani hit a two-run home run to cut it to 5-4 in the fifth. Poletsky tied the game with an RBI single off Matt Fitton in the seventh.
Kevin Castodio came in relief for Anthony Cinelli, who threw over 100 pitches in six workmanlike innings. Castodio (1-1) pitched three hitless innings and got out of a crucial eighth-inning jam, stranding a runner on third with one out.
“He did the one thing he was supposed to do, and that’s mix up the speed of his pitches,” Gooley said. “He did a great job at moving the ball left-to-right off the plate. I thought he did a good job on his fastball and changeup.”
Guerino and Buckley combined to go 4-for-9 in Game 2 with three RBIs.
“We have swung the bat pretty good most of the year going into this weekend right here,” Gooley said. “The bottom three guys we had were trying to manufacture runs.”
Sacred Heart scored eight runs in the fourth and fifth innings in the first game. George Dummar (3-2) struggled, giving up seven runs in four innings, while Ryan Walsh gave up five runs and six hits in his two innings of work.
“I thought the club from Sacred Heart did a good job shutting us down as far as our team offensive side of the house,” Gooley said. “They did an excellent job changing speeds off their fastball and their changeup.”
Quinnipiac will host Dartmouth today at 3 p.m. and then host Monmouth in a four-game home series this weekend.
Photo by Matt Eisenberg