Longest SVC Baseball Game Ends in 3-2 14-inning Loss at Whittier

niko d'agnese leads off first at whittier

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Southern Vermont College baseball team lost a nail-biter Friday evening as the Mountaineers fell 3-2 at Whittier College after 14 innings in what was the program's longest game in school history.

Neither side could get a runner across the plate until SVC got on the board in the top of the fifth. The Poets would quickly answer, however, as they got one back in the home half to tie it up. The 1-1 score stood through the ninth before Southern Vermont grabbed the momentum with a lone run in the top of the 10th.

Whittier was able to extend the game—getting one of its own in the bottom of the first extra inning. After both teams squandered chances over the course of the next three frames, the hosts capitalized in the 14th to celebrate and walk off with the win.

The Mountaineers (2-8) conclude their trip on Saturday with a doubleheader at the University of Redlands slated to begin at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

SVC had played a multitude of 10-inning games in years past, but Friday was the first time that the Mountaineers had gone further than that. The two teams racked up seven double plays to tie the all-time NCAA Division III record for a single game.

Southern Vermont sophomore center fielder Zack Stacey (Saratoga, N.Y.) extended his hitting streak to six games with a 1-4 showing at the plate, and he also worked a walk and batted in a run. Sophomore catcher Dan Mason (Bloomingdale, N.J.) was 1-2 with a pair of walks, and he was hit by a pitch twice to get aboard five times while stealing a base and scoring a run. Junior shortstop John Arancio (Oradell, N.J.) went 1-5 with a run scored in the effort.

Mountaineer sophomore righty Joseph Braim (Schuylerville, N.Y.) tossed a gem on the mound, going eight strong innings with the start and striking out four Poet batters; his only run allowed was unearned, and he let up just seven hits and a walk in the no-decision. Senior right-handed captain Joshua Hay (South Glens Falls, N.Y.) made his first relief appearance of the year as the fifth SVC player to take the hill—getting strapped with the loss (1-2) as he gave up the winning run in his third inning out of the pen.

Braim retired the Whittier side in order in the bottom of the first before getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the second. Junior right fielder Niko D'Agnese (Mahopac, N.Y.) and Stacey tallied back-to-back hits with one down in the third, but Whittier induced an inning-ending double play to keep the Mountaineers off the board. Braim worked out of a second-and-third situation in the bottom of the third, and he then recorded his second 1-2-3 box in the fourth.

Southern Vermont was able to break through in the next at-bat after Mason chopped a lead-off single to first. D'Agnese took a pitch to his body with two outs to put a pair on the pond, and he then got stuck in a rundown after the left-handed Whittier pitcher made a pickoff move to catch the Mountaineer straying away from the bag; as D'Agnese sprinted back-and-forth, Mason was able to motor around third and head for home in an attempt to score before his teammate was tagged out. The Poets elected to throw to the plate to prevent the run from touching the dish, but the catcher couldn't corral the ball for both SVC runners to be safe.

The lead would be short-lived, however, as WC came back and tacked up a quick run in the bottom of the fifth. A two-out error came back to hurt with an ensuing double to center knocking in the tying run.

Both teams left runners on in the sixth, and each side went down in order in the seventh. The Poets got two aboard with one out in the eighth, but Braim got the next batter to ground down to third where SVC junior Rob Spatafore (Mahopac, N.Y.) collected the ball, stepped on the bag and threw across the diamond for the double play.

Neither squad had anything too dangerous in the ninth to force the game to go to extras. Arancio led-off the 10th with a gap shot to right for a double, and D'Agnese legged out a well-placed bunt to put runners at the corners with no outs. SVC used small ball once again to score the lead Mountaineer as Stacey got the bunt down for Arancio to trot home and put his team on top. A single in the hole to the left side by freshman Anthony LaBella (Exeter, N.H.) made it a first-and-third situation—only to see the Poets spin the double play on the next at-bat to get off the field.

Whittier would load the bases with no outs in the home half of the inning as the hosts threatened to not only tie the game, but win it. A pitch was launched into left field by the next Poet batter for the lead runner to tag up and score without a throw to make it a 2-2 ballgame. A walk would reload the pond, but a soft grounder to Spatafore was scooped up by the junior before he threw home to ensure the winning run didn't score; Mason caught the ball and quickly made the turn to fire down and get the batter at first for the inning-ending double play.

The two teams both got runners on in the 11th and 12th innings to no avail, and Southern Vermont went down in order in the top of the 13th. A one-out single to the gap in right center was quickly erased in the bottom of the box as Mason gunned down the Poet trying to steal second. A triple off the left field wall followed, but Hay got the next batter to ground out to Arancio for the game to continue into the shadows.

Whittier tallied its fifth double play of the day in the 14th to get back to the plate, and that's when the hosts pushed home the winning run with the help of two SVC fielding mishaps. The hosts had runners on first and second after a walk, and a bunt trying to move the runners up 90 feet resulted in a throwing error which made way for the lead Poet to round third and jog across the plate.