Ricigliano Masterful in Game One, Paves Way To Guilford College Baseball Split at Bridgewater

Ricigliano Masterful in Game One, Paves Way To Baseball Split at Bridgewater
Quakers magic number down to two with breakeven day
from Bryce Johnson, Director of Athletic Communications for Guilford College

BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Marcello Ricigliano (Kernersville, N.C.) enjoyed the best outing of his collegiate career for the Guilford College baseball team who earned a valuable Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) split against Bridgewater College, winning game one, 3-0, then falling 5-2 in the nightcap at the Bridgewater Baseball Field on Saturday afternoon.

With the evenly divided doubleheader, the Eagles move to 23-13, 11-8 in conference action on the season and rise into a three-way tie with Shenandoah and Lynchburg in third place entering the season’s final week. For the Quakers, they move to 18-19 on the season and 10-9 on ODAC play and are now tied with Virginia Wesleyan for sixth in the conference standings, but most importantly see their magic number to secure a postseason berth down to just two over Hampden-Sydney College.

It was a shutdown showing on the mound for Ricigliano as he went the distance, allowing just four baserunners on two hits, one of them of the infield variety, one walk, and one man reaching on an error, and he did not allow any of those men to even advance to second base. Along the way, he piled up ten strikeouts for the first double-digit strikeout performance of his collegiate career in his second complete game effort, and the first lasting a full nine innings. He got the well-earned victory to improve to 4-4. Joe Christopher pitched well for the Eagles, himself allowing just five baserunners on three hits, a walk, and a man reaching on an error over 7.0 innings. However, GC made their runners on base count as Christopher finished allowing three runs, two of them earned, in his first losing effort of the season, falling to 3-1.

Just five players recorded a hit in the early contest that only saw six total knocks. The biggest of the bunch came off the bat of Jordan Burrough (Greensboro, N.C.) who’s lone hit was a solo blast that ended up standing as the game-winning hit. Isaiah Hairston (High Point, N.C.) was the only player with multiple hits in the game, recording a single and a double in a 2-of-4 performance, scoring once. Michael Sumner (Mooresville, N.C.) was responsible for GC’s fourth and final hit, coming around to score driven in by Aaron Williams (Mocksville, N.C.). Ashton Smith and Lucas Bauer were the only Eagles with a knock, both singles, with Brandon Hartman also reaching safely on a walk.

Jacob Ray (Burlington, N.C.) ended up on the hook in game two, falling to 1-4 after allowing four runs, two of them earned, on eight hits against five strikeouts in 4.0 innings. Reid Long threw the ball really well for the hosts over 6.0 innings as he allowed just two runs, neither of them earned, on five hits against five strikeouts to improve to 6-3. Nick Harris recorded the final six outs for the Eagles to lock down his second save.

Hairston collected a trio of hits in game two for Guilford, all of them singles in a 3-of-4 showing at the plate. Burrough and Williams also had one hit each, as did Chase Wade (Archdale, N.C) and Ethan George (Burlington, N.C.) with both of them scoring on a George homerun. Jeffery Snider collected more hits on his own in game two, than the hosts managed in the entirety of game one, finishing 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run, scoring twice and driving in three. Nick Stavros and Hartman each had a hit and a run batted in with the latter adding a walk in the game.

The early game motored along, completing in under two hours with baserunners, and runs, difficult to come by for both teams. The contest’s rapid tempo was set essentially from the first pitch as the first three frames did not see more than four batters come to the plate in any half inning. Bridgewater got a two-out infield hit by Ashton Smith in the second then saw their leadoff man, Nick Dawson reach via an error in the third, but nothing came of either chance.

Guilford’s first hit did not come until the top of the third and it was a big one. Jordan Burrough (Greensboro, N.C.) worked the count full before unloading on the payoff pitch from Joe Christopher, sending it sailing over the fence in straight-away leftfield for a solo blast, his second of the season, both coming in the Quakers’ last three games.

A little good fortune aided in the scoring of GC’s second tally in the top of the fourth. With one away, Isaiah Hairston (High Point, N.C.) chopped one over the bag, but under the first baseman’s glove for a double. A couple of batters later, Chase Wade (Archdale, N.C) rolled over what would have been out number three, but it scooted under the shortstop’s glove for an error, rolling far enough for Hairston to score from second and double the advantage. They then tacked on one more in the sixth with Michael Sumner (Mooresville, N.C.) lining one into center for a leadoff single, advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch, taking another 90 feet on a productive groundout by Hairston, and scoring on a SAC fly off the bat of Aaron Williams (Mocksville, N.C.), bringing the score to 3-0.

All the while, Marcello Ricigliano (Kernersville, N.C.) was putting together a brilliant performance on the mound. After the aforementioned man reached on an error to start the third, the sophomore mowed down 14 consecutive Eagles, including five by way of a K. Lucas Bauer finally snapped the stretch with a two-out single in the seventh, but Ricigliano induced a flyout to rightfield to end the inning.

With two outs in the ninth, Brandon Hartman finally drew the host’s first free pass of the ballgame, but after a quick conference on the mound, a fielder’s choice represented the 27th out of Ricigliano’s masterpiece, with Guilford taking game one, 3-0.

After being silenced for the entirety of game one, Bridgewater jumped on the scoreboard immediately in the first with Jeffery Snider leading off for the Eagles, and slugging one out to right to grab the hosts their first lead of the game. Snyder did more damage in the second as they added two more. Lucas Bauer reached on an error with one out then Triston Gordon turned over the lineup with a single a couple batters later and Snyder brought them both in with a two-bagger to make the score 3-0.

Guilford would cut into the deficit in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Chase Wade (Archdale, N.C) reached on an error to extend the inning before Ethan George (Burlington, N.C.) pummeled a 1-1 pitch for a no-doubt homerun to straight-away left for his second of the season, making the score 3-2.

In need of a shutdown inning in the bottom of the frame, the Quakers could not get one as Isaac Sumpter led off with a single, ended up at third after Snider’s third extra-base hit of the game, a double to right-center, and came home on a Nick Stavros single inside the bag at third.

The Eagles added one more in the sixth when Snider reached on an error, swiped second, and scored on a Brandon Hartman single but as it turned out, they did not need it as their pitching locked things down.

GC followed George’s longball with a single, but then the third out was recorded and began a stretch of 12 of 13 GC batters retired by Reid Long, Nick Griffin, and Nick Harris, with the minimum number of batters coming to the plate in that 4.1 inning span due to a double play. Despite this, Guilford gave themselves a chance in the ninth, Isaiah Hairston (High Point, N.C.), who was the only Quaker to reach in the previous stretch, snapped the cold spell for good with a single to leadoff the ninth and Aaron Williams (Mocksville, N.C.) followed with a knock of his own bringing the tying run to the plate with no one out in the ninth. Unfortunately, this is as close as they would get as a double play and a pop out ended the ballgame in a 5-2 defeat.

With plenty up for grabs in the conference entering the season’s final week, Guilford heads into a difficult mid-week clash with second-place Roanoke at McBane Field on Tuesday afternoon with first pitch at 3:00 PM.