Leopards take series against Navy, build momentum for playoffs

Freshman+Carter+Dorighi+makes+a+play+up+the+middle+during+Lafayettes+13-7+Sundays+series%2C+clinching+win+over+Navy.+%0A%28Photo+Courtesy+of+GoLeopards%29

Freshman Carter Dorighi makes a play up the middle during Lafayette’s 13-7 Sunday’s series, clinching win over Navy. (Photo Courtesy of GoLeopards)

The baseball team (15-31, 10-11 Patriot Legue) had a successful showing in Annapolis, Md., winning two of three and capturing the season series against Navy. 

Taking the mound Friday night for the Leopards, starting right-hander sophomore Luke Benneche struck out four batters in his six innings on the mound. 

“When [Benneche] throws, he’s throwing against the other team’s best pitcher too, so we need to improve on scoring runs against the other team’s best pitcher,” junior infielder Patrick Vandenbergh said.

The Maroon and White took an early lead in the first game of their doubleheader on Saturday on a Vandenbergh single with freshman infielder Michael Zarrillo scoring on a subsequent fielding error. 

“The first game of the three-game series, I had a double that scored Zarrillo. That felt like the weekend got going on a good note,” Vandenbergh said. 

A two-run RBI single from junior infielder Justin Grech gave the Leopards a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. Then Navy went on a scoring barrage with five runs within the next two innings and held the Leopards at three to take game one (5-3).

“We could have done a better job with that first game right from the start, maybe moving a couple of runners early, cashing in on big hits,” freshman infielder Carter Dorighi said. “In the second game, we moved on from that loss. And we, along with the third game, we just took care of business, and we did what we needed to do.” 

Lafayette took an early lead once again in game two of the doubleheader thanks to Vandenbergh’s RBI-single, sparking a scoring rally for the Maroon and White in the top of the third. 

Grech started the inning getting hit by a pitch before Dorighi and junior outfielder Pete Ciuffreda both walked to load the bases. Sophomore infielder Blaze Fadio was hit by a pitch to walk in Grech and keep the bases loaded for junior infielder Seif Ingram.

Ingram hit his grand slam over the left-field fence to push the Leopard’s lead to 6-0.

Navy was able to plate two runs within the next two innings, putting the score at 6-2. Lafayette answered by exploding again in the top of the seventh. 

Ciuffreda led off the inning with a walk and Ingram joined him on the bases two batters later after being hit by a pitch. Zarrillo singled to center field to bring Ciuffreda home before Vandenbergh then singled to score Ingram.

The Leopards kept piling on and took the second game 13-2. 

“We realized how important the weekend was for the standings, and decided that we were gonna do it for each other and went out and tried to execute,” Vandenbergh said.

Game two was led by Ingram, who went 3-for-3 with a grand slam, Zarrillo, who went 2-for-6 with two runs and Vandenbergh, who was able to go 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Starting right-hand pitcher senior Jake Bloss struck out seven batters in his five innings of play, marking his sixth win of the season.

“Jake Bloss has been throwing really well the last three weeks. He overall had a really good performance,” Vandenbergh said.

Lafayette saw another day of success on Sunday. The Maroon and White started strong in the top of the first with a two-run home run from senior catcher Dylan Minghini. The Leopards maintained their lead and plated four runs in the top of the third to bring the score to 6-0. 

Navy responded with two runs in the bottom of the third and the bottom of the fourth to lessen Lafayette’s lead to one point. 

The Maroon and White scored in the top of the fifth off an RBI sacrifice fly and Navy answered with a two-run home run, tying the game 6-6 going into the sixth inning.

However, the Leopards took the lead back with a Grech double that scored Zarrill. Dorighi singled to bring Kiah home, making the score 8-6. 

Ciuffreda singled to bring Grech across the plate. He then stole second to open up first for Minghini to draw a walk. With the bases loaded, Ingram singled and scored both Ciuffreda and Dorighi.

Vandenbergh walked to join Ingram and Minghini on the bases. Zarrillo walked to bring Minghini across home plate. Brenner scored Ingram with an RBI sacrifice fly, pushing Lafayette’s lead to 13-6.  

The game was then interrupted by an hour and a half rain delay. 

Post-delay, senior right-hand pitcher Frank Craska and junior left-hand pitcher Jacob Ciccone came in to contribute three scoreless innings of play, and secure the 13-7 victory and the team’s tenth Patriot League win of the season.

“Going into this weekend, we’re just trying to fortify our spot for the playoffs and build momentum towards the playoffs,” Dorighi said. “That’s our number one goal.”

The team looks forward to their doubleheader at Holy Cross tomorrow starting at 1 p.m.

With the season coming to a close, Vandenbergh credited the seniors for their contributions to the team over the course of their collegiate careers.

“Really good senior class, on the field and off the field,” he said. “They’re a big reason why we’ve had some success this year, and we’re gonna miss them a lot.”