Alyssa Maiese pitched her team out of a big jam to preserve win
The Iona Gaels began their quest to repeat as champions with a 3-0 win over Marist on day one of the MAAC Championship in Poughkeepsie, NY.
I had a feeling that after the Marist comeback of Sunday in New Rochelle, Iona coach Roni Rivera would not hesitate to use both of her pitchers in a tournament game. The Red Foxes had the better chances early in this one, advancing runners to second and third bases twice by the fourth inning. When it happened again in the fifth inning, Coach Rivera made her move, and relieved senior Sarah Jackson with fifth year senior Alyssa Maiese. But before that, the Gaels took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. A slow infield roller by Allison Hand and an error by shortstop Alyssa Zhaka put two runners on quickly for the Gaels. Alyssa Maiese then smashed a pitch to right field that seemed to tie Aly Klemmer in knots. Perhaps the wind played tricks on the ball. The runners had to hold, not knowing if the ball was going to be caught. It wasn't; and Marist executed a perfect relay that got Allison Hand just before she touched home. But Deanne Algeo followed immediately with a single to right field that scored Eileen McCann with the game's first run. An Allyssa James grounder then scored Alyssa Maiese for a 2-0 lead.
Iona took that lead into the top of the fifth inning, when the Red Foxes started to get to Sarah Jackson. Sarah began the frame by hitting Ashley Corriss with a pitch. The next batter, Megan Lamoureux, just missed tying the game with a long hit to center field, that was good for a double, and once again put Red Foxes on second and third. Coach Rivera then brought in Alyssa Maiese to pitch, and she began with a huge strikeout of Dani Koltz, she with the 39 RBIs. Alyssa then got another heavy hitter, Nicole DiVirgilio, to foul out to the shallow left side. The Red Foxes' top hitter, Alysa Zhaka, then quickly flew out to right, and you could feel the air coming out of the Marist balloon so to speak. They never had another threat after that. Iona added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Jodi Petersen singled home Brianna Schauer, who had reached base with a double.
So Coach Rivera deserves credit for being flexible with her star pitchers in these crucial games. Marist just could not get the key hit they needed in the offensive situations where they could have scored. Sarah Jackson did earn the win, with Alyssa Maiese picking up a save. Emily Osterhaus suffered the loss for Marist.
Iona progresses to the winner's bracket, where they will play Fairfield at 11 am on Friday. Marist will play Canisius in the loser's bracket game immediately following.