E8 CHAMPS! Ithaca defeats St. John Fisher, 7-5, in winner-take-all Final

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HOBOKEN, N.J. – The Ithaca College baseball team secured their fourth consecutive Empire 8 Conference Tournament championship on Saturday afternoon at Dobbelaar Field in Hoboken, N.J., as the Bombers defeated St. John Fisher College in a high-intensity, 7-5, winner-take-all contest. Ithaca earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship and will find out which regional it will play in late Sunday evening.

Junior Sam Little was named MVP at the conclusion of the tournament, as he hit .550 (11-for-20) over four games with six runs scored, two home runs and five RBI. Both of his home runs came in the second game on Saturday.

The Bombers will take a 28-15 overall record into next weekend's regional tournament and are now 12-2 all-time in the Empire 8 Tournament. It also marks the 16th all-time Empire 8 championship for Ithaca, and the seventh straight.

Over the four games, Ithaca hit .361 as a team and scored 38 runs. The Bombers also slugged seven home runs and nine doubles, and outhit their opposition, 57-38.

GAME TWO: Ithaca 7, Fisher 5

In the winner-take-all contest, Fisher cracked the scoreboard first with an RBI single from Scott Eisenmenger in the Cardinals' opening at bat of the game.

Ithaca was held scoreless through 3 2/3 innings until junior Adam Gallagher ripped an RBI double to right-center that plated S. Little all the way from first base to tie the game at 1-1. S. Little singled to right with two outs to keep the Bombers' inning alive.

The Bombers then took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning on a leadoff solo homer by S. Little to dead centerfield.

In the top of the seventh, IC increased its lead to 5-1 on a two-run homer by S. Little and an RBI groundout by junior Webb Little. The three-run frame was set up by a leadoff hit by pitch to senior Domenic Boresta and then junior Jake Generali singled to put runners on the corners. W. Little tapped out to first, which allowed Boresta to scamper home, and then S. Little cranked his second round-tripper of the day with a no-doubt shot to right.

Fisher got two runs back in the bottom half of the seventh with a leadoff home run and a single up the middle to pull to within a 5-3 count.

Ithaca pushes its lead back out to three runs at 6-3 in the top of the eighth as sophomore Andrew Wollner stroked a single to left and freshman Jack Lynch cruised home from second base. Lynch led off with a double to left-center to set up the scoring play.

Junior Andrew Bailey added an insurance run for IC in the ninth with a solo blast to right-center to give the Bombers a 7-3 edge.

In the bottom of the ninth, senior Jack Morello retired the first two outs via strikeouts, but the inning would continue with an infield error. Fisher followed with a base hit and then a hit by pitch filled the bases for the Cardinals' most dangerous hitter, Scott Eisenmenger, who was plunked to force a run home. Fisher drew another walk to make the score, 7-5, but Morello sent IC to victory with a strikeout looking.

Morello earned the save in two innings of relief with four strikeouts. Junior Emmett Dunn earned the start and tossed seven solid innings with seven strikeouts for his fifth win of the season. Dunn scattered six hits and allowed three runs (two earned) during his outing.

GAME ONE: Fisher 15, Ithaca 6

Ithaca immediately threatened to take a lead in the bottom of the first inning by loading the bases with two outs, but a groundout kept the Bombers off the scoreboard. W. Little was the first to reach with an error and then Bailey and S. Little followed with base hits to fill the bags.

Fisher took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on a sacrifice fly to left field by Victor Konstantinovsky. A leadoff double by Eisenmenger came around to score after a groundout and consecutive walks loaded the bases.

In the bottom of the second inning, junior Matt Carey led off with a hit by pitch and then the home plate umpire called a stop to the game due to rain. After an approximate 50-minute delay, Lynch stepped to the plate and delivered a single to center. Wollner followed with a walk, and then Boresta drove in a run with a fielder's choice.

The Bombers then took the lead at 2-1 on a bases loaded hit by pitch to Generali, which brought in Lynch. A double play allowed Wollner to score after that to stake the Bombers with a 3-1 advantage.

Fisher tied things up in the top of the third on a wild pitch and bases loaded walk. The Cardinals quickly loaded the bases on senior Robby Buffis with a single, hit by pitch and walk, which forced him out of the contest.

Sophomore Trevor Rumsey entered from the bullpen and preceded to strikeout the next two batters. Rumsey then lost some control and allowed two runs to cross home on a wild pitch and walk, which tied the contest at 3-3.

The Bombers regained control in the bottom half, 4-3, on an RBI groundout by Lynch that plated Gallagher.

The lead shifted back to Fisher, 5-4, in the top of the fourth as Fisher scored twice on a walk and fielder's choice. Ithaca walked four batters in the inning and hit another to set the Cardinals up with multiple scoring opportunities.

Fisher built on its lead in the fifth with two more runs on a sac fly and groundout to make the score 7-4.

The Bombers would get a run back in each of their next two at bats to pull to within a 7-6 score with an RBI infield single by Wollner in the bottom of the fifth and a solo home run by Bailey in the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Fisher scored three more times to extend its lead to the largest of the day at 10-6. Justin Graham led off with a solo home run and another run scored on a double after a hit by pitch. A single moved the lead runner up to third and a fielder's choice pushed home the final run of the frame.

The Cardinals would use the long ball in the eighth and ninth innings to put five more runs on the board with a pair of two-run homers and a solo shot to build their lead to 15-6, which was the eventual final score.

Ithaca walked 13 batters in the game and allowed 11 hits, including four home runs.