By Mike Radomski
( HAMDEN, Conn.) – Shortstop Mickey Amanti went 4 for 5 and Bobcat starter Mike Oskandy pitched eight stellar innings as the Quinnipiac Bobcats baseball team defeated the Long Island University Blackbirds 9-5 on Friday afternoon.
The Bobcat shortstop came within a triple of the cycle but added his fourth hit on an RBI single in eighth inning instead.
“I wasn’t even thinking about that,” said a baffled Mickey Amanti after the game. “It’s a good thing you didn’t tell because I probably would have tried for it.”
The afternoon game began under clear and cloudy conditions as Mike Oskandy retired the side in order in the first inning while Blackbird starter Kenny Cedel struggled to do the same. The senior lefty issued a leadoff double to Amanti and worked around a one-out walk to strand two runners.
Oskandy also handed out a one-out walk in the second inning but got some help from his teammates. After a strikeout of third baseman Derek Stupski, runner Chris Kievit broke for second base. Catcher Kyle Nisson came up throwing and fired a bullet to second base to catch Kievit stealing. Quinnipiac would strand a runner in the bottom of the inning as both teams remained scoreless.
Long Island first baseman Tito Marrero broke the tie in the third inning with a solo home run to left field. Mike Oskandy tried to get out of the inning, but a one out rally plated another run for the Blackbirds. Tyler Jones made it three straight this with an RBI single to left field scoring Gerard Tingos and increasing the lead to 2-0.
The Bobcats rallied right back in the next half inning when Joe Poletzky singled to left-center field. Second baseman Chris Migani also reached on a single and then started a pickoff attempt that resulted in Poletzky scoring to tie the game. As the Blackbirds scrambled to tag out Migani, Joe Poletzky broke for home and scored without a throw.
In the fifth inning, Mike Oskandy got out of a jam by leaving two runners on base, and swung momentum to the Quinnipiac offense for the bottom half of the inning. Mickey Amanti picked up another one of his four hits in the game and outfielder Ben Farina followed it up with a walk. With two runners on base, Joe Poletzky blasted a double to deep left field, scoring both runners and propelling the Bobcats to a 4-2 lead. Joe-Po finished 2 for 4 in the game with three runs batted in.
Long Island snatched one of those runs back in the sixth inning when shortstop Drew Walsh doubled in Greg DeSantis.
Down 4-3, pitcher Kenny Cedel was hoping for a shutdown inning to keep the score the same, but Quinnipiac was persistent in rebuilding the lead. A Ryan Ullrich single increased the lead to two and pinch hitter Mike Bartlett singled to chase the Long Island lefty from the game. Reliever Luke Hammond entered the game for the Blackbirds but was rudely greeted by Mickey Amanti. The hot-hitting shortstop slammed a three-run home run to left field, his second home run of the season, that just cleared the fence for the 8-3 advantage.
“I think it got caught in the jetstream because I’m not even a big guy,” said a laughing Mickey Amanti. “It got caught up there, got lucky and it just went.”
With a five run lead, Mike Oskandy trotted back out to the mound in the 7th inning with 103 pitches. The fifth-year senior set down the side in the inning, and worked around a leadoff error in the eighth inning to complete his outing. The senior threw eight innings, allowing three earned runs and struck out eight Blackbirds on the afternoon. The win was his second of the season.
“I thought Oskandy was outstanding,” said Quinnipiac manager Dan Gooley. “He is a money pitcher. He was in command the entire game.”
The pitcher finished with 130 pitches on the afternoon even saying he could have pitched the ninth inning if he needed to.
“We had a good gameplan going on,” said pitcher Mike Oskandy. “We missed a couple in the third inning but were able to bear down.”
Andrew Rinaldi made things interesting in the ninth inning when he entered for Mike Oskandy. The right-hander allowed two runs and loaded up the bases to give the Blackbirds hope. Ahead 9-5, Rinaldi faced Derek Stupski and induced the third baseman to pop up and end the game.
With the loss, Long Island drops to 8-21 on the season and 5-8 in the Northeast Conference. Quinnipiac improves to 4-22 on the season and adds their fourth win in conference play with the win. Both teams will continue the four game weekend series with a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at the Quinnipiac Bobcats baseball field. First pitch is at noon and both games are scheduled for seven innings. The series will be completed with a single game of nine innings on Sunday afternoon.