The Wildcats defeated the St. Edward Eagles on Friday with a walk-off single by freshman Sawyer Solitaria in extra innings at Brookside Reservation. The rivalry between the Eagles and Wildcats always amplifies the dramatics, no matter the sport. This was evident on Friday evening on Talty Field in Brookside.
Gabe Nard toed the rubber for his third start of the season for the Wildcats. The junior brought his best stuff against St. Edward. Nard would go five innings and total nine strikeouts while only allowing two runs on three hits. “That was a real team performance,” says Nard. “My success was thanks to the team.”
The Wildcats and Eagles went back and forth all evening, putting on quite the performance to the limited capacity crowd at Brookside.
The Eagles would strike first in the opening inning with a two-out RBI single. Nard was not responsible for that run as the Eagle batter reached on an error. The Wildcats would get that run back in the bottom half of the inning with a Solitaria RBI double that scored Nard from second.
The score would be deadlocked at 1 with phenomenal pitching by the Wildcats and Eagles. The next run would come in the fourth inning for St. Edward as an Eagle runner on third would score after a fielding error by Jacob Eiermann. Nard continued his dominant performance through the fifth inning to keep the Wildcats just one run down.
In the bottom half of the fifth, senior captain John Panstares hit a frozen rope past Eagles shortstop to score Noah Brazytis to tie the ball game at two. Jacob Rocky would come in the sixth inning to relieve Nard. The Eagles would get some two-out magic, and tack-on one run to take a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Rocky would limit the damage, however, as the Eagles would leave the bases loaded.
In what was the definition of this contest for the Wildcats, they fought back again. In the bottom half of the sixth, junior Anthony Paskell rocketed a ball to left field. The ball would die near the warning track, but it was enough for an RBI sac fly to score the courtesy runner in Vince Fabe from third. The Wildcats and Eagles headed into the seventh, all tied up at three.
Solitaria would be brought in to pitch in the seventh by Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor. The freshman would go 1-2-3 in the seventh to keep the score locked at three heading to the home half. The Eagles would counter with a 1-2-3 inning of their own to force the contest to extra innings.
As the sun went down, the Brookside lights turned on for the eighth inning. Solitaria was locked in for extras as he would shut down the Eagles offense again to set the Wildcats up to win dramatically.
As a freshman, Solitaria did not shy away from the moment. “Coming into pitch, I knew I had to throw strikes,” says Solitaria. “I knew I had a great defense behind me.”
The Eagles struggled to locate the zone in the bottom half of the eighth as they would walk Matt Giberti and hit Billy Adams with a pitch. The Cats would have runners and first and second with nobody out. Micah Murtha was brought in as a pinch hitter for Nard to sacrifice bunt to advance the Wildcat runners.
Murtha wound up with a bunt single as the Eagles could not record the out after Murtha popped up the bunt. This brought up the hero of the night, Solitaria. With bases loaded and nobody out, the clean-up hitter was hungry to win it for the Cats. Solitaria worked the count to 3-0, and the Wildcats could see the win in sight. On the 3-0 pitch, Solitaria ripped a ball past the Eagles shortstop to bring home Giberti for the walk-off win.
“Coach Ganor gave me the green light on 3-0,” says Solitaria. “I drove the ball up the middle, and we got the win.”
The Wildcats will be right back at Brookside on Saturday for a contest with the Mason Comets at 12:30 p.m. The SIBN will have live coverage as the Wildcats improve to 3-2 on the season.