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Aherne, Coniglio Help Leopards Walk-Off in Game 1

March 27, 2016

Box Score (Game 1) | Box Score (Game 2)

 

EASTON, Pa. – Lafayette’s home Sunday doubleheader with Penn began in thrilling fashion, as heroics from Drew Aherne and Michael Coniglio led to a walk-off 5-4 victory in extra innings.

In a game scheduled for seven innings, Coniglio belted a two-run double into the gap in right-center to win it for the Leopards in the ninth. The contest was only extended that far after Aherne cleared the fence in left with the Maroon and White down to their final out in the seventh. Aherne’s home run was the first of his collegiate career, while Coniglio had three of Lafayette’s seven hits in Game 1.

Coniglio added a triple in the nightcap as well, but that turned out to be one of the few highlights for the home side, as the Quakers salvaged a split with a convincing 12-2 triumph. Game 2 was shortened to seven innings due to the longevity of the opener.

The Leopards (6-13) now have only one game prior to their Patriot League-opening series at Army West Point next weekend, a 3:30 home tilt with St. Joseph’s on Tuesday to begin the Liberty Bell Classic.

GAME 1

After Penn got on the board on a throwing error in the top of the first, Lafayette quickly responded in its first trip to the plate. Coniglio led off with an infield single to second, and he scored on a single through the right side by Steven Cohen three batters later.

The Leopards pulled ahead in the bottom of the second, again after getting the leadoff hitter on base. This time, Andrew Landolfi singled to right, and he made it to third base on a wild pitch before crossing the plate on a fielding error by third baseman Matt McGeagh.

The sloppiness continued on both sides in the middle innings. With two outs and a runner on second in the top of the third, Penn’s inning was extended after Sean Phelan struck out but reached on a passed ball. Designated hitter Daniel Halevy then drilled the first pitch he saw into left to tie the score. Two more errors in the fifth helped the Quakers grab a 3-2 advantage.

That remained the score heading into the seventh. Penn center fielder Gary Tesch reached on a one-out single, and catcher Tim Graul followed with a deep drive to center. Coniglio, though, chased down the shot with an outstanding running catch just in front of the fence, and starter John Cain fanned Phelan to end the threat.

Cain registered Lafayette’s third quality start in a row, allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits over a career-high seven innings pitched. He struck out five overall and walked only one.

The Leopards’ first two batters in the bottom of the inning were retired in order, but Aherne then sent the first pitch he saw deep to left, with the ball just clearing the fence over an outstretched Penn outfielder.

The Quakers took advantage of another Lafayette error to move back ahead in the ninth. Graul beat out an infield single to third with two outs, allowing Grant Guillory, who had reached on a one-out miscue, to cross the plate. The Leopards committed a season-high five errors in Game 1.

Those mistakes quickly became an afterthought, however, in the bottom of the ninth. Luke Robinson and Aherne each worked the count full before drawing back-to-back walks with one out. That brought up Coniglio, who came through with his game-winning double to seal Lafayette’s sixth win of the season.

Ryan Callanan (1-1) earned the victory on the mound after registering the final out in the top-half of the frame.

GAME 2

The good vibes did not carry over into the next contest, as Penn scored in each of the first four innings to open up an 8-0 lead.

Coniglio’s triple gave the Leopards their first baserunner in the bottom of the fourth, and he made it home on a double from Cohen to deep center. Lafayette’s second run came on an RBI groundout by Patrick Nelson in the sixth. That scored Isaiah Berg, who had led off the frame with a walk in his first collegiate at-bat. Berg also made several nice plays in the field at third base in relief of Spencer Rouse.

Ari Kaufman (1-3) took the loss after giving up six runs (four earned) over 2 2/3 innings. The Leopards had another rough outing in the field, committing four more errors in the night cap.

Cohen had two of the home side’s four hits in Game 2, while his RBI was his team-leading 19th of the season. He is hitting .389 with a .471 on-base percentage on the year, while Coniglio upped his season average to .342 after going 4-for-9 in the two games this afternoon.

Andrew Marra joined Berg in making his first appearance for the Maroon and White, walking one batter in a scoreless seventh-inning on the mound. He was the lone Leopard pitcher to register a clean outing, though six of Penn’s 12 runs were unearned.