Two-run ninth lifts baseball to wild win over Utica

Matt Zaffino '21 went 3-for-5 with two doubles and tied a career high with four runs scored in a wild 13-11 victory against Utica College on Tuesday (Gil Burgmaster photo).
Matt Zaffino '21 went 3-for-5 with two doubles and tied a career high with four runs scored in a wild 13-11 victory against Utica College on Tuesday (Gil Burgmaster photo).

The Hamilton College Continentals scored five runs in the first inning and never trailed in a 13-11 non-conference victory against the Utica College Pioneers at Hamilton's Loop Road Baseball/Softball Complex on Tuesday.

Utica was originally supposed to host the game but the Pioneers' field isn't playable yet. The Continentals -- winners of three in a row -- ended up batting first each inning despite the fact they were playing at home.

Hamilton (11-9 overall) was led offensively by Matt Zaffino '21, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles and tied a career high with four runs scored. Ethan Wallis '21 doubled, tripled and walked, and Joe Suski '21 singled twice and drove in two runs. Wallis leads the team with nine extra-base hits and is batting .388 with a .500 on-base percentage and .597 slugging percentage. Ethan Murphy '22 went 2-for-2, Jacob Han '21 chipped in two hits and James Nish '19 plated a pair of runs.

Brett Sandford '19 (1-0) picked up his second career win after he allowed one earned run on six hits and a walk in 3.2 innings of relief. Ian Nish '19 earned his eighth career save with a perfect ninth as he struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Utica leadoff hitter Christian Tiffin was a home run short of the cycle and drove in three runs. Tim Quinlan had three hits including a triple and Matthew Leviton singled, doubled and drew a walk. Justin McKenna pitched the last five innings and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks. McKenna fanned four and took the loss.

The Continentals led 7-0 and 11-2 before the Pioneers (5-14) came all the way back to tie the score. Hamilton finally clinched the win with two runs in the top of the ninth. Wallis hammered a one-out triple to right-center field and Brady Slinger '22 walked and stole second. Wallis scored the go-ahead run on Zaffino's ground ball to the second baseman, and Murphy drove in Slinger with a single to left field.

The Continentals scored in each of the first five innings. Wallis led off the game with a double and scored on a single to left by Gavin Schaefer-Hood '21. An infield error allowed two more runs to score, and Suski's two-run single made it 5-0. Hamilton generated another run in the second inning on two Utica errors and went up 7-0 in the third. Han and Suski singled and Cam Morosky '22 walked to load the bases. Wallis reached on a fielder's choice that forced in Han.

The Pioneers scored twice in the bottom of the third but the Continentals got those runs right back in the fourth. Zaffino scored on a throwing error by the catcher and Han plated Graham McOsker '20 with a single to center. Hamilton went up 11-2 with two more runs in the fifth. Morosky led off with a walk, Zaffino cracked a two-out double down the line in left, and James Nish drove them both in with a double down the right-field line.

Utica started its rally with a seven-run fifth. Quinlan led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch, and he pulled the Pioneers within 11-9 on a single that scored Tiffin. Tiffin's two-run double was the highlight of Utica's inning. The Pioneers drew even in the bottom of the sixth on a run that scored with the help of two errors and Tiffin's run-scoring single. The score remained tied at 11-11 until the top of the ninth.

The Continentals are back in action on Friday, April 12 for a NESCAC West Division home game against Amherst College at 4 p.m.