MOOSIC, Pa. – Commonwealth Coast Conference Champion (CCC) Salve Regina dropped its opening game of the NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic Regional, 6-5, to St. John Fisher. The Seahawks will return to action tomorrow (May 19) at 1:15 p.m. as they take on Salisbury in an elimination game.
The Seahawks never trailed in the game until the Cardinals scored twice in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore reliever Josh Monson (Bridgewater, Mass.) had inherited a one-run lead (4-3) and a bases-loaded, no out situation in the seventh, retired the first three batters he faced while the tying run scored on a sacrifice fly.
Salve Regina (26-17-1) scored a go-ahead run when freshman Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.) singled with two outs in the eighth, stole second, and came home on classmate Tristan Dacey's (Wyckoff, N.J.) single up the middle.
St. John Fisher (35-11) completed the comeback with two more runs in the eighth. Joe Simmons (Victor, N.Y.) and Malcolm Kelsey (Piscataway, N.J.) reached Monson for singles and were moved along the basepaths by Jack Vivinetto's (Rochester, N.Y.) sacrifice bunt. Dylan Jepsen (Sutton, Mass.), who saved the Seahawks in the CCC championship a week ago, relieved Monson and got a check-swing grounder to first for the second out, runners remaining on second and third.
Cody Wiktorski (Pennfield, N.Y.) delivered a game-tying single to left field, and Ryan Provost (Rochester, N.Y.) bunted to shortstop to produce the go-ahead run.
After pinch-hitter Brody Santilli (Lincoln, R.I.) was hit by a pitch leading off the ninth for Salve Regina, closer Loukas Brigham (Rochester, N.H.) retired the next three batters for his ninth save of the season. Christian Vargas (Melbourne, Fla.) had moved Santilli into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
DJ Mendenhall (Warwick, N.Y.) picked up the win (1-0) in relief of starter Stephen Lewis (Pittsford, N.Y.). Lewis had gone seven innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and struck out six. Salve Regina starter Cory Poplawski (Syracuse, N.Y.) went six-plus innings and allowed four runs (all earned) on six hits while uncharacteristically issuing four bases on balls and hitting two batters.
Salve Regina scored in the first with the first three batters reaching base. Senior outfielder Ryan Kelly (Waldwick, N.J.) hit a first pitch single to right field. John Militano (Miller Place, N.Y.) sacrificed Kelly to second and reached on an error by Lewis. Alex Perry (No. Attleboro, Mass.) doubled down the left field line to score Kelly. Militano was erased at the plate on a fine play by Cardinals third baseman Witkorski.
Kelly scored another run on a sacrifice fly by Smith in the third. Perry had another RBI with his leadoff home run in the sixth. In the Seahawk seventh, left fielder John Kussmaul (Brick, N.J.) came home on a sacrifice fly to center by Kelly; Hunter Sleeper (Arlington, Mass.) was out on the play attempting to reach third, but the home plate umpire ruled Kussmaul's run counted.
Salve Regina will face Salisbury for the first time ever. St. John Fisher will play Kean University in the final game on Thursday.
Release courtesy of the Salve Regina Sports Information Department.