Along with the near 70-degree weather, two double header splits last weekend warmed the spirits of Lafayette’s baseball team as they vie for a position in the Patriot League playoffs.
Despite a solid outing by starting pitcher junior David Bednar, defensive miscues on a couple Bucknell bunts swung game one of Saturday’s double-header in the favor of the Bisons, handing Lafayette a 4-1 loss.
“Certainly we wanted to make a statement with that second game after losing such a close one,” senior centerfield Mike Coniglio said. “You always try to not lose two games in a day… If you can avoid that and come out with at least a win each day you’re usually putting yourself in a good spot going forward for the weekend and qualifying for playoffs.”
Pitching against his high school teammate and needing to nail down victories to keep playoff hopes alive, the game was a must win for starting pitcher senior Andrew Leeds. Leeds delivered with a quality start only giving up three runs over 6.1 innings
“My mindset was to just go out there and give us a chance to win game two as best as I could,” Leeds said. “Try to take Bucknell’s momentum away early by not letting them score early in the game and then trust both our offense and defense to get the job done.”
Two of the most crucial plays of Saturday’s nightcap involved plays at the plate, and Lafayette came out on top in both. In addition to a perfect 3-for-3 showing from the batter’s box, senior Michael Coniglio scored what would be the winning run with a straight steal of home on two outs in the seventh. Later in the game, senior Andrew Landolfi, who had three hits in the game, threw out the tying run at home from shallow left field to secure the last out of the win.
“I have to give [Landolfi] a ton of credit with what he did at the plate and the throw at the end of the game basically saved the win for us,” Coniglio said. “It was a perfect throw, one hop, right on the money.”
Bucknell came back from a 3-0 deficit in the final inning to win Sunday’s game one 5-3.
Lafayette’s bats were hot in game two as they looked to redeemed themselves following the tough loss of game one. Two-out homers in the first inning from senior Campbell Lipe and freshman John Selsor, as well as a three-run double in the fourth from Coniglio powered the Leopards to a 6-4 victory.
“It was very important to come back, like we did the first day, and close out the series with a win to give us some momentum going into this week,” Coniglio said.
Splitting the Bucknell series placed Lafayette in the fourth and final spot in the upcoming Patriot League playoffs. Having to come back after dropping game one of doubleheaders, while frustrating, has been helpful in building resilience that will be beneficial as the team approaches playoff season.
“Our team is really showing a lot of fight down the stretch and that’s probably due to our seniors experience throughout their four years here,” Leeds said.
While Wednesday’s 13-12 win against non-Patriot League Monmouth will have no effect on the team’s playoff chances, the consistent offensive effort exhibited there provided momentum that the team will want to take into their key final series against Lehigh and Holy Cross, and hopefully the playoffs.
“We’ve been playing this game since we were five years old,” Leeds said. “It’s tough to realize that it’s not going to be a part of your life anymore, so we know we have two weeks guaranteed. I don’t think any of us are truly ready for our careers to end after those two weeks, so hopefully we can get the job done these next two weekends and extend our careers and team’s aspirations for the year.”