Baseball extends Jackie Robinson Game win streak to four

Hamilton head coach Tim Byrnes, Hamilton's Jackie Robinson Game MVP Matt Zaffino '21, Utica MVP Christopher Ramsundar and Utica head coach Joe Milazzo.
Hamilton head coach Tim Byrnes, Hamilton's Jackie Robinson Game MVP Matt Zaffino '21, Utica MVP Christopher Ramsundar and Utica head coach Joe Milazzo.

Hamilton College's Matt Zaffino '21 and Matt Cappelletti '21 homered and the Continentals defeated the Utica College Pioneers 8-3 in the 32nd playing of the Jackie Robinson Game at Hamilton's Loop Road Athletic Complex on Wednesday afternoon.

The Continentals (16-16 overall) evened the Jackie Robinson Game series at 16 wins apiece with their fourth straight win. Hamilton has outscored the Pioneers 48-23 in this game over the last four years. The game, which is sponsored by the Mohawk Valley Frontiersmen, began in 1987 on the 40th anniversary of Robinson breaking major league baseball's color line.

The Continentals finished with a .500 record for the second consecutive season. Hamilton also edged Utica 13-11 back on April 9.

Zaffino was selected the game's most valuable player for the Continentals as he finished 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. Cappelletti added a double, Brady Slinger '22 had two hits and Rich Marooney '21 singled, walked and scored two runs.

Gavin Schaefer-Hood '21 (7-2) pitched a scoreless fourth inning and set a program record with his seventh win this season. Brett Sandford '19, Jamie Hauswirth '22, Justin Schirmacher '20, Ian Nish '19 and Kenny Gray '20 combined to throw four more innings of shutout relief.

Christopher Ramsunder, who doubled and drove in a run, was named Utica's most valuable player of the game. Matthew Fitzgerald went 2-for-4 and drove in a run, and Maki Medici drew three walks. Justin McKenna (2-3) started on the mound and took the loss after he allowed two runs on three hits in two innings. Jake Cavanagh struck out four in two perfect innings in relief of McKenna.

The Pioneers (14-19) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first but Hamilton went in front with two runs in the bottom half of the inning and didn't trail again. Jordan Northrup '19 lofted an opposite-field double down the line in right with one out and Zaffino followed with a blast over the fence in left. The homer was his first this year and the fourth of his career with the Continentals.

Hamilton gave itself some breathing room with a four-run fifth inning. Marooney led off with a single to left center, stole second and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Pinch-runner Sam Rowley '20 made it 4-1 after he scampered home on a double steal. Zaffino followed with a two-out single that was misplayed on a hop by the right fielder. The ball rolled all the way to the wall and both he and Schaefer-Hood, who was hit by a pitch, came around to score.

In the sixth inning Marooney drew a one-out walk and pinch-hitter Jarrett Lee '21 drove him in with a double to left field that nearly left the yard. Utica cut its deficit to 7-3 on a run-scoring double by Ramsunder and sacrifice fly by Ryan Palmer in the top of the seventh. Cappelletti wrapped up the scoring in the bottom of the inning when he launched a two-out solo blast over the wall in left center. The home run was his second in the last five games and he went 10-for-18 in the final seven games this year.

The Continentals turned a 5-4-3 double play in the eighth and the Pioneers never threatened the last two innings.