Luppens’ walk-off hit leads Griffs to 11th-consecutive win

by Nathan Barillari
Managing Editor

Jimmy Luppens was 0-4 when he stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning; the bases were loaded with no outs when he came up and the junior was able to work a full count before smacking one back up the middle, scoring the Griffs game-winning run in what was supposed to be a seven-inning game.

“I knew I was coming up in a big spot. I just tried to keep cool,” Luppens said. “I’ve faced [Marist’s Kevin McCarthy] in high school before so I knew what he had and I just tried to go to work, hit it up the middle.”

The Griffs finished their doubleheader against conference-rival Marist on Saturday with a 2-1 victory after a 10-3 win in game one.  The only other run scored for the Griffs in game two came from sophomore Connor Panas’ RBI in the first inning.

“From what everyone tells me it was a pretty good ballgame to watch,” coach Mike McRae said with a smile. “It’s a tough game for someone to lose and I’m just grateful we were on the right end of the equation in that one.”

In what is the biggest pressure situation in all of baseball, Luppens describes the energy from the crowd as a motivating factor in his success to push the Griffs to victory.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘Don’t strike out in this situation; just to try hit hard to put it in play’,” Luppens said. “As soon as I hit it I knew it was gonna be a base hit…I was so happy; I was excited.”

“I think that at-bat exemplifies that maturity he’s capable of,” McRae added. “When he gets back to just trying to put the bat on the ball, he’s got the ability to do that any time. He’s always a threat and he obviously stepped up for us in a big spot right there.”

Freshman pitcher Alex Godzak gave the Griffs 7.2 innings while allowing just one run on five hits and had seven strikeouts.

“I thought he pitched outstanding again,” McRae said. “He’s given us a chance every time out. I think he’s getting better as the year progresses.”

Junior closer Jon Fitzsimmons relieved Godzak in the eighth inning and provided 2.1 scoreless innings for the Griffs to pick up the win.

“Good and bad, he’s always there. He’s always ready to compete and give you a chance,” McRae said. “When he’s off a little bit, he can make some corrections and fix it…he made some great pitches. He got some tough hitters out.”

Following the victory, the Griffs are on an 11-game winning streak, which is a program record as well as the current highest win streak in the country.

“It’s given us recognition and we just gotta keep going with it and go out to tomorrow and get the sweep,” Luppens said.

McRae, while happy with the feat, is more concerned with the team’s ability to win conference games.

“Right now that’s the most important thing,” McRae explained. “Our backs were at the wall a little bit a few weeks ago and we’ve put some wins together against some good teams and hopefully it gives us a chance to be where we need to be in the top four.”

In game one, the Griffs were led by a strong day from junior Garrett Cortright who pitched eight innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and had three strikeouts. Leading the Griffs in RBI’s was junior Jesse Kelso and Luppens with three each. Junior Ryan Coppinger had two and freshman Brett Siddall and junior Jose Torralba both had one.

“Obviously at the end of today we’ve won the weekend and that was our goal coming in,” McRae said. “It doesn’t mean we can be satisfied but, accomplishing those goals earlier makes tomorrow a little easier.”

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