The Manhattan College men’s baseball team won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title on Saturday in Trenton, N.J., earning Riverdale’s Jaspers its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in the past 54 years.
Manhattan will play SEC champion Florida this Friday, June 3, at 4 p.m., in the Gainesville Regional, the first round of the NCAA tournament, it was announced at a seedings event on Memorial Day.
The Jaspers defeated Siena 5-1 in the MAAC championship game, behind a superlative pitching performance by tournament MVP Mike Giordano.
Freshman Yoandry Galan gave Manhattan a lead in the second inning on a 2-RBI single, with 2 outs. The Jaspers added 3 more runs in the third, thanks to a RBI single from senior Austin Sheffield, a sac fly from Ramon Ortega and an RBI double from Kyle Murphy. The green and white had built a 5-0 lead early in the game.
That was more than enough for Giordano, who may have pitched the best game of his college career with 13 strikeouts. The Saints managed only 3 hits and a walk.
Giordano struck out the final batter of the game to capture both the MAAC title and the 20th win of his career.
The Jaspers’ pitcher was selected to the MAAC All-Tournament team, joining teammates Mark Ororati, Sheffield, Ortega and pitcher John Soldinger.
Sheffield hit .385 and had 3 RBIs in 3 games. Ortega also had 3 RBIs and 2 doubles. Soldinger struck out 6 batters in the team’s 3-2 win over Canisius.
Siena was also Manhattan’s opponent in the MAAC semifinal game in what proved to be a much closer 8-7 walk-off win.
The Jaspers were staring elimination from the tournament in the face when they were hit with a stroke of good luck. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Manhattan behind a run, the Saints’ third baseman made a costly error on Sheffield’s ground ball.
The mistake allowed seniors Oranti and Salem to score the winning runs.
The Jaspers notched their first of the tourney on another close game, beating Canisius 3-2.
It was sophomores who were the heroes of this game. As Soldinger was on the mound, Ortega hit the game-tying RBI in the eighth inning.