Mueller Lifts Baseball Past Sacred Heart
ALBANY, N.Y. – On Tuesday, the University at Albany baseball team (22-23, 8-12 AE) hosted its final home game of the 2017 regular season. The Great Danes defeated the visiting Sacred Heart Pioneers (18-33, 11-12 NEC) by a score of 14-13 after an up-and-down game that culminated in a go-ahead home run from senior Eric Mueller.
UAlbany jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Patrick Lagravinese led off with a slow-rolling single to the pitcher. After Nick Kondo fouled out to the catcher, Connor Powers hit an RBI double to center, scoring Lagravinese. Next, with Powers on second, Kevin Donati hit a two-run home run to give the Great Danes a 3-0 lead.
Sacred Heart responded with one run in the top of the second inning, cutting the lead to 3-1. UAlbany scored six runs in the bottom of the inning. Alex Thul drew a leadoff walk, and advanced to second when Stephen Loreng grounded out to shortstop. Lagravinese next drew a walk to put runners on first and second, before Nick Kondo hit a three-run home run.
After Kondo's home run, Powers hit a single through the right side, and Donati singled to left, setting up a three-run home run for Travis Collins, the team's second of the inning, to bring the game to 9-1.
Sacred Heart scored one run in the top of the third, cutting the Great Dane lead to seven, and two more in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to five.
Two and a half scoreless innings went by before Sacred Heart hit a home run to lead off the top of the seventh, cutting the lead to four. The Pioneers scored five more runs before the Great Danes recorded an out, taking a 10-9 lead. They would add three more runs in the inning before the third out, and the Danes came up to bat in the bottom of the seventh trailing 13-9.
UAlbany responded immediately, scoring four runs to tie the game at 13. Kyle Sacks led off with a single to left center, followed by a single through the left side from Thul. Evan Harasta, pinch hitting for Loreng, fouled out to first, after Sacks and Thul each advanced a base on a balk from Sacred Heart's pitcher. Lagravinese next drew a walk to load the bases. Kondo hit a single to center, scoring Sacks. Powers next hit a grounder to second and was thrown out at first but Kondo was able to cross the plate. Donati narrowly beat out a single to first, allowing Kondo and Lagravinese to score to tie the game.
Mueller led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a home run to left give UAlbany a one-run lead. It would prove to be the go-ahead run that put UAlbany up for good, 14-13. It was the first home run of Mueller's collegiate career, and it came in his last at-bat at Varisty Field.
Donati led UAlbany with four hits, and shared the team lead with Kondo with four RBIs each. Additionally, each of the first five batters in UAlbany's lineup today recorded multiple hits and scored at least one run. Great Dane starter David Hutchison lasted 2.0 innings, allowing one run on two hits with two strikeouts. Six pitchers, Angelo Spedafino, Brendan Smith, Ryan Daugherty, Terry Dugdale, Charlie Peltz, and Dominic Savino combined for the final 7.0 innings, with Savino getting the win after pitching 2.0 innings, allowing one hit and recording one strikeout.
“We had a nine run lead that we established early,” said head coach Jon Mueller. “You know, it's tough when guys aren't out there a lot. It's tough to stay sharp. But we battled back late in that game four runs down. And what a great finish for Eric Mueller, the home run late to finish off the home season. So we're excited and looking forward to Maine this weekend.”
Sacred Heart scored 13 runs on 15 hits with no errors. UAlbany scored 14 runs on 19 hits and commited two errors.
The Great Danes will close out the regular season with a three game series at Maine starting on Friday, May 19. The America East tournament starts on May 24 in Lowell, Mass.