RIT earns walk-off win over Rensselaer to advance to Liberty League Tournament

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ROCHESTER, NY – Jason Schulz (Liverpool, NY/Liverpool) drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth to help the fourth-seeded RIT baseball team (19-15-1) earn a 3-2 walk-off victory over No. 5 seed Rensselaer (19-21) in the Wild Card game of the 2018 Liberty League Tournament at Towers Field on the campus of University of Rochester on Thursday. RIT, the defending Liberty League Champion, advances into the double-elimination tournament and will play top-seeded Rochester at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening.

With the game tied at 2-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, Dom Scialabba (North Brunswick, NJ/North Brunswick) drew a leadoff walk. Navada Waterman (Coudersport, PA/Coudersport) dropped a perfect bunt that bounced high off home plate, allowing him to reach base, while Scialabba moved to second. After a force out at third, Patrick Mylott (Aurora, OH/Western Reserve Academy) reached base for the fifth time in five plate appearances with a walk to load the bases. Schulz fell behind 1-2, but battled back and took a 3-2 fastball high to draw the walk, allowing Waterman to score and end the game.

RIT battled back twice, as Rensselaer took a 1-0 lead in the third and 2-1 advantage in the seventh. Both times, RIT tied the game in the bottom half of each inning.

Senior Brian Reed (Rochester, NY/Penfield), the 2017 Liberty League Pitcher of the Year, scattered eight hits and allowed two runs, while striking out seven batters in a 122-pitch outing over seven innings for the Tigers. Classmate Brett Bouchard (Fairport, NY/Fairport) picked up the win in relief, throwing two scoreless innings, while striking out four Rensselaer batters.

Offensively, Patrick Mylott (Aurora, OH/Western Reserve Academy) was 2-for-2, was hit by a pitch twice and drew a walk, as he increased his on-base percentage to .544 in 2018. Scialabba started both rallies in the seventh and ninth innings with lead-off walks. Waterman was 2-for-3 with two runs, while Daniel Zeglen (Scotia, NY/Scotia-Glenville) had two hits and Schulz drove in a pair of runs.

 "This was the type of game we expected and the guys battled for a hard-fought win," said RIT head coach Rob Grow. "We liked our chances with Brian (Reed) and Brett (Bouchard), two-battle tested seniors on the mound and they delivered."

Rensselaer was eliminated from the Liberty League Tournament with the loss. J.T. Sawyer was 4-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI, while Christian Spagnuola was 3-for-3 with a walk. Christopher Palmiero started for the Engineers and struck out nine Tigers in 6 1/3 innings.

The Engineers got on the board first in the top of the third inning, as Weston Hawkins and Sawyer hit back-to-back doubles. RIT would answer right back in the bottom half of the inning, as Waterman led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joey Mylott (Aurora, OH/Western Reserve Academy) and scored on a scorching double down the left field line by Patrick Mylott (Aurora, OH/Western Reserve Academy).

Both teams would threaten over the next few innings, but were held off the scoreboard. Reed would wiggle out of bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, while RIT left a pair of runners on in the bottom of the frame.

Jack Vaccari would give the Engineers a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh with a run-scoring single. In the bottom half of the inning, Schulz would single in Scialabba, who walked to lead off the inning.

RIT won the season series over the Engineers, 4-1. The Tigers took three of four games at Tiger Stadium on April 21-22. Dating back to last season, RIT has won seven of the last nine meetings.

The Tigers will now take on top-seeded Rochester for the fifth time in the last week. The Tigers and Yellowjackets split a pair of doubleheaders last weekend, with RIT out-scoring Rochester, 17-16 in the four games.

RIT has won their last four Liberty League Tournament games dating back to last season is 6-2 all-time in the conference tournament.