By John Cirillo
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A “Grand” finale vaulted the Fairfield University baseball team (29-24, 17-7 MAAC) to its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season title since 1983, and the top-seed in the MAAC Championship tournament beginning Wednesday. Appropriately on “Senior Day,” it was second baseman Brendan Tracy, playing in his final home game at Alumni Diamond, who launched a game-ending grand slam to guarantee the Stags the top-seed with an 8-4 victory over Quinnipiac last Friday.
The Stags, picked eighth in the MAAC Preseason polls, will begin their quest for the tournament Championship on Wednesday, May 25 at 7:00 pm against the lower-seeded winner of the two earlier games. The MAAC Tournament will be contested at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, New York.
“I stood there and watched because I knew I got all of it,” said the Rumford, Rhode Island native. “Once I started running around first base I was like, ‘Wow that just happened.’ That doesn’t happen to often and I’m glad it happened on my Senior Day.”
“I think any coach wants his senior to go out by getting a no-hitter, getting the winning hit, scoring the winning run,” Head Coach Bill Currier said. “It’s a picture moment for him, and it’s something he’s going to remember for the rest of his life.”
Tracy’s heroics came in the first pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning after the Stags came within an out of winning the game in the top half of the inning. Two errors opened the door for Quinnipiac to tie the score, but Mike Bonaiuto closed the door, leaving the potential go-ahead run at third.
With one out in the ninth, the Stags recorded three consecutive hits to set the stage for the Tracy blast, his first career grand slam in his final home game. It was a Hollywood script ending for the ages.
Throughout the season, Fairfield has relied mightily on the clutch hitting of Mac Crispino, and the switch-hitting first-sacker came through once again in the clincher. The “Mac Attack” knotted the game at one with a single to center in the sixth; the junior captain then stroked a two-run single in the eighth to deadlock the contest again at 3-3. A pair of doubles by Kevin Radziewicz figured prominently in both rallies. Crispino’s three hits and three ribbies lifted his average to .302, and his 32 RBI are second on the team.
I think it shows that we are a championship caliber team,” said Tracy commenting on the see-saw battle. “No matter what happens, we believe we’re going to win and we stay after it. That’s not easy to come by.”
The MAAC tournament which begins on Wednesday will continue through Saturday, May 28.