CANTON Skidmore persevered through 18 innings of baseball on Saturday, fighting back through the losers bracket of the Liberty League Tournament to defeat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 8-3, and host St. Lawrence University, 7-5, earning the Thoroughbreds a berth in todays winner-take-all final against St. Lawrence at noon.
For SLU, which came into the day as the only unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament, it took only two and one-third innings for things to begin to unravel. The Saints committed four of their six errors on the day in that stretch and trailed 4-1 in the third.
SLU (28-13) and Skidmore (29-15) will compete again today for the leagues automatic NCAA Division III Tournament bid. The Saints will be looking for their first playoff title since 2006 while the Thoroughbreds will be seeking their fourth crown since 2005. Skidmore has beaten SLU in all five meetings this season.
We have a bunch of battlers on our team. Our guys are playing loose baseball, Skidmore coach Ron Plourde said after his team scored three unearned runs in the second without hitting a ball out of the infield and with the Saints committing two errors. We certainly took advantage of a couple of their miscues early and you have to because theyre such a good hitting team.
SLU made it 3-1 in the bottom of the second as Matt DAuteuil singled, advanced to third base on an Ethan Braddock double and scored on a wild pitch by Skidmore starter Nick Petrella. Petrella went six innings for the win with a trio of Thoroughbreds finishing up in relief. But the fourth Saint error of the day led to an RBI single by Nick Barra in the bottom of the inning and the 4-1 deficit.
Despite outhitting the Thoroughbreds 15-7 on the day, the Saints could not get the big blow when needed, stranding 16 runners on base.
Saints center fielder Carter Franz finished 3-for-6 on the day with a triple and said his team will be ready today.
Obviously it didnt help that we came out slow. It didnt go as wanted today, but weve played 40 games this year, and all year weve been a team that comes back no matter what happens, Franz said. We have the best hitting team in the league, We won the league for a reason.
Saints starter Jason Conde went six innings and took the loss despite allowing just one earned run with Andrew Schreyack throwing three perfect innings of relief.
Skidmore scored two unearned runs in the fifth with Matty Tatkow delivering an RBI single and the winners added a single run in the sixth, loading the bases and scoring as Brian Lowry bounced into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Saints scored two in the fourth on Jeff Kotts sharp single to left, plating Franz who had singled, and Bryan Palermo, who had reached on a fielders choice.
Down 7-3 heading to the eighth, SLU made it interesting when Franz tripled and scored on Khifer OConnors single to make it 7-4. SLU, which is 15-3 at home this season, then brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth with no outs. The Saints settled for just one run as Immaculate Heart Central product Brian Magovney (2-for-5 with a double on the day) had an infield single and then scored as Franz reached on a fielders choice.
Hopefully, some of the good at-bats we had toward the end today will carry over to (today), Saints coach Pete Hoy said. We didnt get off to a good start today and Skidmore is a very good team. But we just have to play well.