After knocking off Livingston on Monday afternoon, the Cougar baseball team was looking for a second straight statement win over one of the top programs in the state, in Seton Hall Prep. But the Pirates had different ideas this afternoon in West Orange.
A late inning hit parade by Seton Hall Prep broke the game wide open for the Pirates, who went on to beat the local boys 11-3.
“Did we miss a chance for a victory? Partly,” said Columbia Head Coach Larry Busichio. “There were a couple of situations where we left the door open for them. But we knocked off Livingston the other day; I think we made a statement with that game.”
In the bottom of the third inning, with the score tied at one, with two on and two outs for the Pirates, SHP senior Nick Rizzo broke the tie with a double drilled deep to center field, scoring both runs. The next batter, SHP catcher Nick Ammirati, pounded another double to right-center field, splitting the outfielders, and bringing home Rizzo.
During the top half of the next inning, the Cougars’ Russell Cahn hit a two-out long single off of the wall, scoring Marcus McGriff from second, who earlier in the inning hustled a single into a double. But in the bottom half of the inning, the Pirates tacked on another two runs, via a one-out two-run homer drilled over the left field wall by John Muha.
Busichio made a pitching change afterwards, putting in Andrew Rigassio. The senior gave up just one run over the next two innings, but Columbia was unable to capitalize, scoring just once more for the rest of the game.
SHP’s bats just could not be silenced. They laid off pitches that weren’t perfect and put contact on almost every single ball that came through the strike zone. The home team put up four more runs in the bottom half of the sixth to put the game to bed. The Pirates put 18 runners on base in the final four innings of the game.
“They’re a team that doesn’t swing and miss very often and they don’t swing unless it’s a strike,” Busichio said. “So if you try to go a little far outside or try to get them to swing at a few pitches in the dirt, they’re going to take it. They’re going to make the ball come to them.”
Although Columbia’s starting pitcher, Sean Glynn, was able to navigate through the top half of the order during the first two innings, getting behind the hitters and walking batters in the third and fourth innings became his undoing.
“Sean was hitting his spots. He was getting his curveball over for strikes, which is what you need. You have to be able to throw off-speed stuff for strikes against them,” Busichio said. “I thought he was doing a good job all the way through. I think there were a few calls that could have gone our way but didn’t and they either walked or got another at-bat, and then he just got tired.”
Columbia’s first run came on a two-out base-hit by third baseman Stephen Tamayo in the top of the first inning. The team’s final run came off of Glynn’s bat, when he scalded a groundball past the SHP third baseman, with runners on first and second.
“Anybody who was at this game knows that 11-3 was not the way the game went, it was a much closer game until the sixth inning,” Busichio said. “We’re a solid ball club, there is a lot of season in front of us and if we take care of what we need to, we’ll end up all right.”
The Cougars fell to 3-2 with the loss and return to action Thursday morning, when they will host St. Benedict’s Prep.