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“We gave it our all. That is all you can ask.”
-Quinnipiac Head Coach, John Delaney
After walking off Fairfield on a 13th-inning wild pitch in the MAAC Tournament Championship Game, the Quinnipiac Bobcats earned their second NCAA Tournament bid in program history. For the northeastern university, the extra-inning victory tied a program record for wins (29) and marked possibly the most successful result in program history.
The Bobcats earned their dogpile and their spot in the conference history books. An unceremonious exit in the NCAA Tournament would not have been surprising (and was even expected by outsiders), but this team had a habit of exceeding expectations.
Selection Monday informed Quinnipiac that they would be traveling 600 miles south to Greenville, North Carolina—setting up a first-round match up with ECU. The Pirates were the #10 overall national seed and a formidable opponent. ECU had only lost one series all year, a road series against #1 UCLA. On top of that, the Pirates are famous for their passionate fanbase, and Quinnipiac knew that winning on the road would be a stiff challenge. However, the Bobcats spent their first 18 games of the year away from home and came into Greenville as veteran road warriors.
The Greenville Regional was a rain-soaked affair. Halfway through the second day of play, only one game had been completed. Bad weather pushed back the start time of Quinnipiac versus ECU, and the Bobcats and Pirates would not start their NCAA Tournament runs until Saturday evening.
Each team scored two runs in the first inning, and the game was off to a quick start. Quinnipiac tacked on another run in the top of the 2nd inning, and held a lead until ECU tied the game at 3-3 in the 4th inning. The game would stay that way for two innings.
In the top of the 7th inning, senior Liam Scafariello came to the plate with graduate student Anthony Cruz on first base. With one swing of the bat, Scafariello put the Bobcats up 5-3.
ECU did not fade quietly into the night. A run in the bottom of the 8th brought the Pirates within one and invigorated the ECU faithful. In the bottom of the 9th, the Pirates had the tying run at second base. Junior Colin Donnelly was two innings deep in relief and was one out away from his first save of the year and a Bobcat victory. A ground ball to second baseman, junior Dylan Lutz, ended the game and clinched history for Quinnipiac.
“It’s a team effort that put us in this situation,” said Quinnipiac Head Coach, John Delaney. All nine batters earned a hit for Quinnipiac in a historic win for the Bobcats.
Quinnipiac would go on to lose a hard-fought 9-8 game to Campbell in the winner’s bracket before ultimately dropping a rematch against ECU.
This does not take away from what the Bobcats accomplished. 2019 was a year of firsts for Quinnipiac Baseball. This year’s squad was the first team to win 30 games in program history. The 2019 team earned the first NCAA Tournament win in program history and did so by winning at one of the most challenging places to win.
When Delaney says his team gave it their all, it is easy to believe him. Quinnipiac Baseball will never be the same because of this year’s team.
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