Quinnipiac wins MAAC baseball title, advances to NCAA Tournament

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Quinnipiac wins MAAC baseball title, advances to NCAA Tournament

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

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Beat Reporter Analysis:

Highlights and Postgame Reaction:

Game Story:

By: Jacob Resnick

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Brian Moskey makes a habit of watching the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament on television every year. In 2018, he watched the MAAC champion Canisius Golden Griffs in their Minneapolis regional.

This year, however, Moskey won’t have to flip on ESPN. He’s a major reason why the second-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats clinched an automatic bid into the Tournament on Sunday with a 6-5 win in 13 innings over the third-seeded Fairfield Stags in the MAAC title game.

It will be Quinnipiac’s second appearance in the tournament and first since 2005, when the team came out of the Northeast Conference.

“Unbelievable,” was all Moskey could say after Evan Vulgamore scored from third base on a wild pitch to walk it off and keep the Bobcats’ season alive.

Moskey was named the MAAC Tournament’s most valuable player following a weekend in which he led Quinnipaic with seven hits, 9 RBI, and two home runs, including a blast to left field on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning Sunday.

“To have a senior put together that kind of performance, that’s the type of leadership you want,” head coach John Delaney said. “That’s what the younger guys feed off of, seeing the seniors work, so hats off to them.”

The Bobcats loaded the bases four times in the ninth inning or later, finally breaking through in the 13th. By innings, Sunday’s contest was the longest championship game in MAAC history.

“Everyone was dead,” Moskey said. Clearly the Bobcats had just enough juice left to scratch out the final run and secure the victory.

Quinnipiac showed extreme resiliency all weekend, including coming back after trailing 4-3 in the fifth inning Sunday. The win was the Bobcats’ 29th of the season, tying a program record set in 2007 and repeated in 2015.

“We play like we’re on top of the world, like we’re the best team out there, and that’s because we are,” Vulgamore said. “A team like that is going to win a lot of games and that’s why we’re here.”

Quinnipiac would not have made it to the 13th inning without the left arm of Colin Donnelly, who did not allow a run over a career-high 7.2 relief frames. The junior from Flemington, New Jersey, was running on adrenaline after working three scoreless innings out of the bullpen in the Bobcats’ win over Manhattan on Saturday.

“I was expecting maybe we could get three innings out of him today,” Delaney said. “He just never faded. He just kept going”

“I had to remind myself that I used to do this in high school,” said Donnelly, an alumnus of Immaculata High in Somerville, New Jersey.

But 124 pitches in a span of about 24 hours?

“I normally don’t get sore until two days after, so I knew I was going to be good to go today. [Pitching coach Pat Egan] asked me before the game if I was ready and I said, ‘my arm is still attached to my body so let’s do it.’”

Donnelly, alongside Dylan Lutz, Tyler Poulin, and Liam Scafariello, was named to the MAAC’s all-tournament team.

For Delaney, it was difficult to articulate just how much this win meant to the program. An integral member of the 2005 title team, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant in 2013, took control of the team in 2015, and now will return to the NCAA Tournament just five seasons in.

“It’s hard to think about how far the program has come,” Delaney said. “Seven years of hard work, man. Now we’re walking off the field here and going to a regional next week. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

The Bobcats won’t know where they will be headed to open tournament play until the selection show at noon on Monday. Safe to say, the last thing this team is stressing over is the bracket.

“This program is in the best spot it’s ever been,” Moskey said. “I’m so happy for all of us.”