UR baseball fans bore witness to one of this season’s more thrilling series on the diamond this past weekend, when the ‘Jackets took on Liberty League powerhouse and rival Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Both games were won by late-game heroics, as the hosts put away the Engineers in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 12-8 victory before letting the sweep fall through their fingers by allowing three unearned runs in the fifth inning of a shortened second game Sunday.
With the exception of an early two-run rally by the Engineers in the first inning, the opening innings of Saturday’s game drew mostly zeros on the scoreboard. Senior Nick Cacciola claimed the win for UR, settling down after the rocky first inning to allow a total of six earned runs on seven hits while striking out five over six innings.
Cacciola’s counterpart, the Engineers’ senior Mike Cieszko, refused to surrender a run until the fourth, when junior Alex Caghan ripped open the inning with a solo home run to put a tally up for the yellow and blue.
The inning was a disaster for Cieszko and the Engineers’ defense, as — with the help of a pair of RPI fielding errors — freshman Nate Mulberg and junior Dom Caruso teamed for back-to-back doubles that piled on another three runs. Freshman Ethan Sander drove in Caruso to cap a five-run offensive explosion.
RPI would not go quietly, however. The team bounced right back in the top of the sixth, as the Engineers’ Jonny Rio — a nightmare for the UR pitching staff all day, going 3-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs — and Billy Nikolski combined to drive in three runs, bringing the visitors within two.
After building their lead back up to four, the ‘Jackets again saw their lead dwindle in the top of the eighth, but proceeded to lower the hammer in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore Jon Menke singled to left to score Caghan, then trotted home himself on a double by Sander.
Caghan picked up right where he left off on Sunday, depositing the ball on the sidewalk beyond the left field fence to put the yellow and blue up by two in the first.
The lead didn’t last long, as Nikolski and Rio slashed back-to-back RBI singles to cap a four-run third inning. The Engineers capitalized on three UR fielding errors, piecing together a three-run fifth inning surge that would earn them the lead for good.
Bernstein is a member of
the class of 2014.