Fairfield outlasts Patriots, 5-3 in extra inning finish

Josh Leemhuis leads off first base in Saturday's game against Fairfield (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics).
Josh Leemhuis leads off first base in Saturday's game against Fairfield (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics).

The Patriots found themselves in a struggle Saturday, battling the snow and late-inning resurgence from the Fairfield Stags.

Spuhler Field resembled a snow globe in the late innings of the game, as George Mason (5-4) fell to Fairfield (3-2) 5-3 in a marathon game that lasted 11 innings.

“It just stings. It stings in the end when you have opportunities and you can’t come through,” said junior Blaise Fernandez, who smoked a line drive right to the Fairfield third baseman, ending the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th.

The game was a dogfight from the start, thanks to tremendous pitching performances from Mason’s Jared Gaynor and Fairfield’s E.J. Ashworth, who was Baseball America’s pre-season Pitcher of the Year for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Gaynor threw seven solid innings, only giving up one earned run on seven hits with four strike outs. He left the game in the seventh with a 2-1 lead, but receives a no decision thanks to a Fairfield home-run and pinch-hit RBI double in the top of the eighth.

The bats of Fernandez and last week’s Colonial Athletic Association player of the week Tucker Tobin stayed hot as Mason’s fourth and fifth place hitters dominated the box scores once again.

“Early on we came out with this attitude that we wanted to jump on [Fairfield] early. It was team baseball back and forth all day,” Fernandez said.

Tobin hit a towering home-run to left field, his fourth of the year. Fernandez was constantly producing for the Patriots, going 3-for-6 from the plate with a clutch RBI double in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game.

Fairfield would go on to win thanks to a two run top of the 11th inning, leaving the Patriots to focus on what they can do better to win the series finale on Sunday.

“What we have to be better early in the game,” said Mason coach Bill Brown. “We’ve got to play all nine innings.”

“At the end of the day, you have to have confidence that says you can beat those guys,” Fernandez said. “You have to look at it as they didn’t beat us, we let them have it. In the end, if we execute, that game’s over in the ninth.”

The Patriots look to get back in the win column on today at 1 p.m., as Mason’s Jake Kalish looks for his first victory of the season against Fairfield’s Jeremy Soule.  

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