By Trevor Dugan | March 6, 2023
Photo Credit: Brent Warzocha/UAlbany Athletics
The University at Albany men’s baseball team was swept on the road in their opening series at Hofstra this past weekend after allowing a whopping 31 runs over three games.
Freshman Dylan Banner started on opening day Thursday for the Great Danes in his first collegiate game. During his final season at Plainview Old Bethpage, Banner won the Diamond Award, awarded to the top high school pitcher in Nassau County. He held his own in the opener, going four innings while allowing two ER and striking out five.
Banner was outdueled however by Hofstra ace Mark Faello, who also graduated from Plainview Old Bethpage High School. Faello went six innings, allowing two ER and striking out six.
UAlbany struck first on a sacrifice fly by outfielder Owen Silliman, giving them a 1-0 cushion. Hofstra jumped ahead in the third with a 2-1 advantage, but UAlbany took the lead back in the sixth on a sac fly by infielder Justin Hurd.
UAlbany led 5-4 when Owen Birkman entered to close the game in the bottom of the ninth. The first two Hofstra batters of the inning reached base, then executed a double steal to get into scoring position. Kevin Bruggeman tied the game with a single up the middle, and Hofstra walked it off on a ground ball hit to first base by Steve Harrington, winning by a score of 6-5.
In game two of the series, both offenses exploded late. Cregg Scherrer started on the mound for UAlbany, lasting four innings and allowing two ER. After a back and forth first six innings, Hofstra held a 5-4 lead by the seventh. But UAlbany answered with a big eighth inning in which they scored three runs, giving them a 7-5 edge. Chris Fisher, Silliman, and Jason Bottari each knocked a run in for UAlbany in the eighth.
Unfortunately for the Great Danes, their bullpen faltered again with a late lead. In the bottom of the eighth Hofstra scored six runs, jumping ahead to an 11-7 lead. Albany scored one more in the ninth, but their attempted rally fell short as they dropped game two by a score of 11-8.
In the final game of the series, Connor Eissenman got the start for UAlbany. He struggled mightily, lasting just 2.2 innings, giving up five runs (three ER) and walking five batters. He left the game with UAlbany leading 6-5.
Despite a slow start, the Great Danes offense came alive in the third inning, posting six runs to put them up 6-3. Infielder Will Feil started the inning with a solo homer, the first HR of the year for UAlbany. The sixth run of the frame came off another solo homer by Silliman, the first of his collegiate career.
In the fourth, outfielder Will Binder connected for a solo homer to left, pushing the lead to 7-5, but Hofstra tied the score at 7 in the bottom half of the frame, then scored two more after Matthew Mariano took the mound for his debut with the Great Danes, pushing their lead to 9-7.
UAlbany came within one in the fifth after a sacrifice fly by Devan Kruzinski, but Hostra struck for two more in the same inning, stretching their lead to 11-8.
The Pride scored three more runs on the UAlbany bullpen, ultimately winning 14-8 and sweeping the series. The Great Danes were outscored by 10 runs throughout their opening series.