BOSTON – The Suffolk baseball team opened up its 70th season in winning fashion as Luke Ronchi had a career day to lead the Rams past No. 9 St. John Fisher, 11-3, Friday Chain at Lake Myrtle Field apart of the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational.
SCORE: Suffolk 11, #9 St. John Fisher 3
RECORDS: Suffolk (1-0) | #9 St. John Fisher (3-2)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Suffolk got on the board first in the away half of the top inning as Brady Chant started things off with a single. He advanced to third after Sean Cameron was hit by the pitch in the next at bat and Matt Brenner drew a walk in the third spot. Chant came around to score on a fielder's choice for the early lead.
The Cardinals got that run back and more in the bottom half of the second when, with one out and the bases loaded, Chuck Gibson hit Vic Konstantinov to give St. John Fisher its first run of the day to get the rally going. Evan Ryan's sac fly to centerfield brought in Malcom Kelsey, who reached on a single to right field to flip the leaderboard switch. After Konstantinov stole second, Thomas Pasquale, who got on thanks to a mistake by the Rams' third baseman Kevin Higgins, took advantage of another Suffolk error, this time by shortstop Cameron, and came home to make it a 3-1 Cardinal contest after two complete innings.
The score leveled in the third with Brenner and Greg Speliotis crossing home. With one out, Brenner knocked a double down the left line. Kevin Belskie moved Brenner to third with a ground out to the pitcher before Speliotis' single up the middle scored the senior catcher. After a wild pitch that pushed the runner to second, Ronchi mirrored Speliotis' single with one of his own to bring in the junior designated hitter. The Rams loaded the bases before Brandon Potter made a change on the mound, bringing in Kyle Chambers for Caleb Lee, but Suffolk's damage had already been done to lock things at 3-all.
Suffolk grabbed the lead in the fourth despite the way the inning started; Chant sat down looking, Cameron struck out, ran out a passed ball to reach first, and Brenner swung and missed to put two outs on the board. Belskie reached on an error by the second baseman Justin Graham and Speliotis drew a walk to load the bases for Ronchi. The senior right fielder scored Cameron and Belskie on a single and Zach Grogan followed suit with a single up the middle, plating Speliotis to give the Rams' a 6-3 lead.
The advantage grew to 7-3 after Chant went yard in the top of the fifth, before Ronchi stretched Suffolk's edge to 8-3 with a lead off bomb down the left line in the sixth.
Potter made changes on the bump to open the seventh and eighth, respectively, and the fresh Cardinal arms quieted the Rams as the score held at 8-3 in Suffolk's favor.
Ronchi continued his hitting antics in the top of the ninth. With the bases loaded, all on walks, Ronchi took advantage sending a shot to right field for a double, bringing home Cameron, Brenner and Zack Aresty, who pinch ran for Speliotis, making it an 11-3 Rams game.
Behind Mark Fusco in the bottom half of the inning and a double play by Cameron Suffolk sealed the 11-3 win.
- Ronchi was nearly perfect at the plate, going 5-for-6 in his appearances with one double and one homer to finish the day slugging 1.500 for seven RBI. He sniped two bags and scored one run himself.
- Chant went 3-for-6 with a homerun and double of his own. The junior centerfield racked up two runs and one RBI.
- Speliotis brought in two runs, scored two himself and stole one base, while Grogan recording one RBI.
- Brenner, who went 2-for-3 and led the team with five putouts, and Cameron also had two runs apiece.
- Gibson got the opening day start for Suffolk, the 18th of his career. The senior pitched 7.0 strong innings for the Rams, allowing just three earned runs on eight hits, while striking out four batters.
- Fusco came on in relief and pitched 2.0 scoreless innings, allowing one and sitting down two hitters.
- St. John Fischer used seven different hurlers from its bull pen. Chambers got the start and worked 2.1 innings on the hill allowing four hits, four runs, one earned, with four strikeouts and two walks.
- Lee threw 2.2 innings on the mound and gave up four runs, three earned, on four hits, two walks and sat down two Rams.
- DJ Mendenall, Matt Toohey, Loukas Brigham each saw one inning apiece for the Cardinal with Anthony Loussedes, who allowed three runs on three walks and one hit, and Jonathan Schlessing also seeing action on the bump for St. John Fisher.
- Suffolk picked up its season opener for the first time since downing St. John Fisher, 7-6, on the first day of the season in 2015.
- The Rams remain unbeaten against the Cardinals all-time moving to 2-0 in the series.
- The win over the ranked opponent marks the first for Suffolk since the Rams downed No. 19 Eastern Connecticut State, 6-1, March 25, 2013.
- Ronchi recorded career-best numbers in runs (5) and RBI (7).
- Ronchi's seven RBI is the most by a Ram in a single outing in recent history since Tim Corcoran knocked seven in a 15-11, eight-inning victory over St. Joseph's Maine March 29, 2008. The seniors five hits, meanwhile, are the most by a Ram since Chant struck five in the GNAC Championship versus St. Joseph's (Maine), May 8, 2016.
- Aresty made his collegiate debut and scored one run.
Suffolk is back on the diamond in the Sunshine State tomorrow as the Rams take on No. 6 Ramapo at 2:30 p.m. at Chain of Lakes Field.