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HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac baseball team used the long ball to its advantage Sunday afternoon as three different players hit home runs in the Bobcats' 12-7 win over the Niagara Purple Eagles to pick up its first MAAC series sweep of the season.
Julius Saporito (Manalapan, New Jersey) went 1 for 2 with a crucial three-run home run that busted open the game for the Bobcats in the sixth inning. Saporito's home run was his second of the season and of his career. Rob Pescitelli (West Islip, New York) belted his first home run of the season and eighth of his career to take the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth inning. Vincent Guglietti (East Haven, Connecticut) crushed a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth for his eighth home run of the season and 16th of his career.
Pescitelli led the Bobcats as he went 2 for 4 with his home run and a double, scoring two runs. Mike Palladino (Rockville Centre, New York) went 2 for 4 with three stolen bases and a pair of runs scored. Matthew Batten (Shelton, Connecticut) went 2 for 5 with a double, three RBIs and a stolen base and Lou Iannotti (North Haven, Connecticut) went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBI.
The Bobcats scored 12 runs on 12 hits to improve to 24-21, moving three games over .500 and are now 14-7 in MAAC play while the Purple Eagles fell to 11-26-2 with a 7-11 mark in the MAAC.
Starting pitcher Justin Thomas (Enfield, Connecticut) kept the Purple Eagles off balance in his six innings, allowing just three runs on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
In total, the Bobcats scored 29 runs in the three game series with the Purple Eagles, their most in any series this season. The Bobcats have all but assured themselves a spot in the MAAC playoffs with the weekend sweep of the Purple Eagles. The Bobcats will finish above .500 in conference play for the second consecutive season after going 12-10 in the MAAC in their first season in the league.
The Purple Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Tanner Kirwer hit the first home run of the weekend with a solo shot over the left field fence.
Niagara's lead was short-lived; however, as the Bobcats manufactured a run in the bottom of the third to tie the game 1-1. Ben Gibson (Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts) led off the inning with a walk and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Saporito. Palladino moved Gibson up to third on a groundout to second base before Scott Donaghue (Marlboro, New Jersey) ripped a RBI single to left field to score Gibson.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth inning by Thomas on the hill, Pescitelli gave the Bobcats a 2-1 lead with his two-out solo home run to right centerfield.
Batten added two more runs to the Bobcats lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving the Bobcats three straight innings with at least one run scored. Saporito was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before stealing second base. Palladino laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Saporito to third, and reached first safely with the perfect placement. Palladino then stole second base with a delayed steal to put both runners in scoring position. Batten stepped up to bat and with a 1-0 count sliced a double to right field to score both runners to make it 4-1 Quinnipiac.
The Purple Eagles cut the Bobcats lead to 4-3 in the top of the sixth inning after Michael Fuhrman reached on a single followed by a two-run home run to deep left field by Anthony Firenzi.
Just after Niagara got within a run, the Bobcats exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend their lead to 10-3. Niagara pulled starting pitcher Liam Stroud in favor of Mac Curran. Pescitelli led off with a double to right centerfield. Gibson was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second before Dale Long (Saratoga Springs, New York) pinch ran for Gibson. Saporito stepped into the box and crushed a three run home run to right field to give the Bobcats a 7-4 lead.
Following the home run, Palladino singled to left field before Matt McCuen replaced Curran on the mound. Palladino proceeded to steal second base and Donaghue walked to put runners on first and second. The Bobcats successfully pulled off the double steal to put two runners in scoring position for Batten, who blooped a single into shallow centerfield with the infield in to score Palladino from third base. Both runners moved into scoring position on Guglietti's ground out to first and came home to score on Iannotti's two-RBI ground-rule double down the right field line to make it 10-3.
Niagara added another run in the top of the eighth inning with a two-out rally. Fuhrman and Firenzi reached with back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second base. Joel Brophy grounded a single through the hole on the left side to score Fuhrman and trim the Bobcats' lead to 10-4. Owen Dziados singled up the middle but it was cut off by a diving Batten to hold Firenzi at third base before Geoff Seto popped up to strand the bases loaded.
Guglietti powered the Bobcats to a 12-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Donaghue was hit by a pitch with one out in the inning before Guglietti hit a towering two-run home run to deep right field, well over the fence, to put the Bobcats up 12-4.
The Purple Eagles got within 12-7 in the top of the ninth inning with three runs on three straight hits. Julian Gallup walked to lead off the inning before advancing to second on a passed ball. Gallup then advanced to third on a Taylor Hackett groundout to Guglietti at first. Gallup came home to score on Kirwer's single to right field. Nick Bernick followed up that single with an infield single and Kirwer came home to score on a throwing error by Batten at shortstop. Fuhrman ripped a double to the left centerfield gap to score Bernick from second base to make it 12-7 Quinnipiac.
The Bobcats return to action next weekend when they face the Rider Broncs in a matchup of the top two teams in the standings of the MAAC in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Quinnipiac and Rider will face off in a doubleheader on Saturday, May 9 beginning at 12 P.M. followed by a single game on Sunday, May 10 at 12 P.M.