April 15, 2006

MIT Sweeps WPI With Two Tight Wins

April 15, 2006

Box Score

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT rallied twice including an improbable come-from-behind win in game one as the Engineers squeaked past WPI for a two-game sweep in NEWMAC baseball action at Briggs Field. A three run rally with two outs in the bottom of the seventh lifted MIT (14-6, 6-2) over WPI (10-16, 2-6), 7-6, in game one, while the Cardinal and Gray held on after erasing an early deficit to take the second half of the twin bill, 6-5.

An RBI single by sophomore Kevin Wheeler pushed MIT in front by a 3-1 count early in the first game. Despite giving up the early edge, WPI battled back to take the lead with three runs in the top of the fourth. Worcester's version of the Engineers managed just two hits during the frame, but was able to take advantage with a walk and three wild pitches. Senior Billy Flaherty keyed one of the hits with a run-producing single and sophomore Brandon Steacy secured another RBI with a sacrifice fly.

The teams traded a run over the next two innings, while WPI added an insurance run in the top of the seventh off an RBI single by Ryan Rand.

In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore reliever Brendan Devereaux picked up two quick outs and WPI appeared to be on its way for the mild league upset. With two outs, rookie Thomas Phillips singled up the middle and fellow freshman David Nole punched a hit through the left side of the infield to put runners at first and second. In the ensuing at bat, senior Greg Williams hit a fly ball to shallow right. WPI's Mike Mancuso charged hard and attempted to make a beautiful diving catch, but the senior's bid just missed, allowing Williams to stretch the hit into a triple while tying the game at six. The next batter, rookie Steven Nunez, smoked a shot right back to the mound, but the hit deflected off the foot of Devereaux and Williams crossed the plate with the game-winning run.

An RBI single by Wayne Duggan in the first provided MIT with an early 1-0 lead in game two, although WPI looked to break the game open with a four-run third. Steacy and Matt Fiore opened the stanza with back-to-back singles, while Rand brought them both home with a double. After another single and a walk, Dan Mahoney picked up WPI's third RBI of the inning with a single through between short and third. The Engineers added another run off an error as the inning closed with WPI ahead, 4-2.

MIT grabbed the lead back in the fourth as four hits led to three runs. Nunez collected an RBI single, Duggan added an RBI double, while Witzberger sandwiched their knocks with a run-scoring triple. Witzberger singled, doubled and tripled in his first three at bats during Saturday's second game. In his fourth at bat, center fielder Ethan Brown made a catch just in front of the outfield fence to prevent Witzberger from recording the third cycle in the history of MIT baseball.

Wheeler extended MIT's advantage to 6-4 after leading off the fifth inning with his team-best fourth homerun of the season.

Jay Turner, who settled down to pitch a great game after enduring a tough, early stretch, walked Fiore and surrendered a single to Brown to open the top of the ninth. Mike Vasquez pitched to one batter in the inning and the lefty secured the out before handing the game over to Duggan for the close. WPI kept it close until the very end as an infield single by freshman Scott McNee brought home Fiore and placed the tying run just 90 feet from home. On the flip side of game one's drama, Duggan finished the game and WPI's comeback effort with a strikeout.

Rookie Matt Loper pitched the eighth inning of game one en route to his fifth straight win, while Jay Turner (3-1) secured the win in game two. Duggan earned his third save of the campaign on Turner's decision.

Ryan Rand enjoyed the biggest offensive day for WPI, going 2-for-4 with two RBI in game two after collecting an RBI single as a pinch hitter in the opener. MIT's Jason Witzberger carried the MIT bats, with five hits and a walk in nine plate appearances. He also stole a base and scored three runs as MIT won its third consecutive game.