By Earl Zukerman
Shortstop Jamie Fuoco of Pierrefonds, Que., reached base four times and drove in a pair of runs as the red-hot McGill baseball team sunk the cellar-dwelling John Abbott College Islanders 8-1 to clinch a playoff berth at George Springate Field, Tuesday.
The victory, McGill’s sixth in their last seven outings, improved their record to 8-6. With only a rescheduled doubleheader on Thursday night at Carleton remaining before playoffs, the Redmen can finish second, third or fourth in the five-team Northern Conference of the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association.
The Redmen took advantage of a number of walks and sloppy defence to jump into a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning. They led 5-1 after four innings and exploded for three more in the seventh, sparked by a two-run single by Fuoco, a mechanical engineering freshman who went 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of walks and scored a run from the No.2 hole in the batting order.
“We’re finally getting some consistent pitching, our defence is playing much better and our bats have come alive,” said Casey Auerbach, a fifth-year veteran from Westmount, Que., who made a rare appearance at catcher and went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in the seventh inning. “Everything is kind of coming together nicely at the right time.”
McGill starter Elliott Ariganello tossed a five-inning gem, scattering just three hits. The sophomore from Etobicoke, Ont., allowed one earned run, struck out seven and walked three.
McGill also had multi-hit performances from designated-hitter Adam Gordon (2-for-4 with a walk) of Dollard des Ormeaux, Que., and centerfielder Max Tierno, an import from Manhattan, N.Y., who busted out of a prolonged slump with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate with a walk. He also stole two bases and tallied a pair of runs.
Concordia has clinched first place with a 10-5 record, while McGill will jockey for post-season positioning with Ottawa, which has finished their schedule at 9-7, and Carleton (7-7). The semifinals are slated to begin on the weekend.