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Quinnipiac falls to Hartford 6-4 in first game played at Dunkin’ Donuts Park

By: Dylan Fearon

It wasn’t a normal non-conference game for the Quinnipiac baseball team Tuesday night.

The Bobcats faced the Hartford Hawks for an in-state clash, but also for the unveiling of Dunkin’ Donuts Park, the new 6,100-seat ballpark for the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

It was the first sporting event at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, which began with the retiring of Roberto Clemente’s number 21.

Quinnipiac did lose to Hartford, though, 6-4. Even with senior shortstop Matt Batten’s first inning single, which was the first hit in the ballpark’s history, and a stolen base that tied the program record, it wasn’t pretty early. Bobcats pitcher Alex Vargas allowed three earned runs on five walks in just a third of an inning. The right-hander threw 20 balls to just 11 strikes.

Bobcats head coach John Delaney brought in Brandon Shileikis to clean up the mess, and he did just that. The senior right-hander entered the game down 3-1 and with three Hawks on base, but got out of the jam without surrendering a run. Shileikis threw four and two-thirds innings, allowing just three hits and one run, striking out five.

Seniors Joe Burns and Ryan Nelson were the catalysts for the Quinnipiac offense all night. Burns hit the first homerun in Dunkin’ Donuts Park history, with a shot to left field in the top of the fourth for his third of the year. A Nelson opposite field RBI single in the top of the fifth tied the game at three runs apiece.

The stalemate didn’t last long, as Hartford left fielder Chris Sullivan drilled an RBI double to right center field, giving the Hawks a 4-3 advantage.

Burns came up big again for Quinnipiac, driving in Nelson on an RBI single to left to tie the game at four in the top of the seventh. But in the bottom half of the inning, the Hawks loaded the bases on Quinnipiac pitcher Andrew Workman, who ended up on the short end, with no outs. Delaney went to the bullpen once again, bringing in Mike Davis, who allowed a run on a ground ball double play. Sullivan then doubled to right field, scoring the sixth and final Hartford run.

A 19 minute delay in the top of the eigth inning due to the lights abruptly turning off killed Quinnipiac’s momentum. The Bobcats had runners on the corners with two outs and Mike Palladino in the batter’s box when the lights went out. After the delay, Palladino struck out swinging.

The loss extends Quinnipiac’s losing streak to five games. The Bobcats now head to New Rochelle for two road games against Iona to resume Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. With Quinnipiac vying for a spot in the MAAC playoffs and sporting just a 3-6 conference record, the quick road trip to New York is vital for the Bobcats.

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