Baseball 3-0 after edging Southern Vermont at home Thursday

Matt Zaffino '21 (Josh McKee photo)
Matt Zaffino '21 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College's Matt Zaffino '21 smacked a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning and lifted the Continentals to a 5-3 non-conference win against the Southern Vermont College Mountaineers at Hamilton's Loop Road Baseball/Softball Complex on Thursday.

Zaffino reached base five times with two singles, two walks and a hit by pitch. He also scored twice. Graham McOsker '20 singled and tripled, and Matt Cappelletti '21 belted a double. The Continentals (3-0 overall) used eight pitchers including Gavin Schaefer-Hood '21, who pitched the eighth inning and picked up his second win already this season. Ian Nish '19 fanned two batters in a scoreless ninth and earned his seventh career save. Chris Keane '20 started on the mound and allowed one baserunner in three shutout innings.

Ryan Serrato doubled and homered for Southern Vermont (0-4-1). Kyle Liddy posted two hits including a double, and Nick Guajardo singled twice. Nick Gambardella was saddled with the loss after he allowed three runs in 3.2 innings pitched.

McOsker started the game-winning rally with a one-out single to center field. Joe Suski '21, who replaced Ethan Wallis '21 in center field in the top of the eighth, poked another single to center with two outs and Jordan Northrup '19 walked to lead the bases for Zaffino. His base hit scored Suski and McOsker with the go-ahead runs.

Nish closed out the win but there were a couple hiccups along the way. After getting the leadoff batter to pop up to the shortstop, he hit Dan Mason with a pitch. Serrato struck out looking for the second out and then Liddy hit a dribbler in front of the mound on the third base side. Nish came off the mound to field the ball but threw wildly to first, and both runners moved into scoring position. Nish ended the threat and the game by whiffing Guajardo. 

The Mountaineers tied the score at 3-3 in the top of the eighth. Serrato led off with a double to left and scored on Liddy's single up the middle that nearly hit Schaefer-Hood's foot. Southern Vermont threatened to take the lead when Guajardo singled down the right-field line and Joseph Ruelas loaded the bases with one out on a single to right-center, but Schaefer-Hood retired the next two batters on a strikeout and a groundout to second.

Hamilton took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Craig Sandford '19 drew a two-out walk and scored on McOsker's triple down the right-field line. The Continentals made it 2-0 in the third as Zaffino led off with a walk and scored on Cappelletti's double to deep left before Cappelletti was caught in a rundown between second and third.

The Mountaineers sliced their deficit in half in the next half-inning. Sam Thoreen '22 struck out the first two batters he faced in his Hamilton career before Liddy doubled to left and Guajardo plated him with a single to left.

The Continentals created some more two-out magic in the bottom of the fifth inning. Zaffino and Cappelletti coaxed two-out walks and Rich Marooney '21 cracked a single to left field that scored Zaffino. Serrato led off the top of the sixth with a towering blast that cleared the right-field fence by a few feet and cut Hamilton's lead to 3-2.

The Continentals head to Florida where they will take on Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts for a doubleheader at Lake Myrtle Field in Auburndale on Saturday, March 16. First pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.