Baseball’s walk-off win
Morgan Douglas – Sports Editor
In what has been a season filled with triumphs and victories, Owls’ baseball had one of the most exciting and dramatic finishes of the season last week.
Second baseman Tony Zambito, a graduate student, hit a walk-off home run, the first of his collegiate career, in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Owls a 2-1 victory over the Le Moyne College Dolphins this past Thursday.
“This game needed to end,” Zambito said. “Somebody needed to do it. It came from the most unlikely person, but perfect time for the first one.”
The win marked the Owls second walk off victory against the Dolphins this season, with the first coming back on April 2, when outfielder Andrew Eng, a graduate student, hit a walk-off grand slam home run against them.
This time around, Eng was waiting to bat in the inning if the speedster Zambito got on base but was pleasantly surprised with the results of Zambito’s at bat.
“Definitely didn’t think Tony was going to hit a home run,” Eng laughingly said. “I’ve played with the kid since I was eight years old, it was the furthest ball that he’s ever hit in his life. That one just went over the foul pole, and we were kind of waiting, looking for the umpire to make a signal, and once he did, I was overjoyed.”
Zambito received the full walk-off treatment, complete with a Powerade bath and a mobbing from his teammates as he crossed home plate.
Even though Zambito’s big swing is the major story, there was a lot of baseball played surrounding the moment and great pitching performances on both sides.
Left-handed pitcher Nick Guarino got the start in this game, entering with a sterling record on the season with eight wins and zero losses.
The Dolphins countered with starting pitcher Jacob Maser, and from there, a pitcher’s duel ensued.
This game was scoreless through seven innings, with neither starter surrendering much of anything to the opposing offenses.
Le Moyne got on the board first after an RBI single by second baseman Drew Caroll in the top of the eighth inning.
The Owls’, as they have been wont to do all year, responded on offense in the bottom half of the 8th inning, and tied the game on a sacrifice fly by outfielder Connor Goggin, a redshirt freshman, which scored Zambito.
Guarino responded with a shutdown inning in the top of the ninth and as the Owls were coming off the field, head coach Tim Shea could be heard saying to his team, “Make Nicky 9-0.”
It looked like it was going to happen too. A leadoff double, a walk, and a throwing error put runners on second and third with nobody out, but three straight unproductive at-bats followed, producing outs, and the game went to extra innings.
Guarino would have to settle for a no decision, as he was lifted for pitcher Peter Phillips, a redshirt freshman, in the 10th inning.
Phillips delivered three scoreless innings before Zambito’s heroics in the bottom of the 12th to send the Dolphins home packing.
“They’re leading the conference right now and they’ve won two games against us, so it was good to get some momentum back on our side after a tough loss with Adelphi yesterday,” Eng said, “So it was nice to help us and definitely push us through the weekend, another big series.”
The 26-9 Owls will look for their third consecutive victory on Wed. April 27, at home against Adelphi University, riding the momentum of Zambito’s momentous hit into the end of the regular season and beyond.
“This was huge” Zambito said. “Our backs were against the wall. We really needed this one. This puts us in a really good spot moving forward in the NE10.”