HARWICH, Mass. – No. 5 seeded MIT scored first, but back-to-back two run innings by No. 4 seed Western New England were enough to lift the Golden Bears to a 5-2 victory in the opening game of the NCAA Division III Regional Baseball Tournament this morning. Senior Max Ockner (Chesterfield, Mo.) pitched seven strong innings and sophomore Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.) homered for the Engineers.
After a scoreless first, MIT (27-12) got on the board first. Sophomore Parker Tew (Chapel Hill, N.C.) led off the second with an infield single and then moved up to third on a double from freshman DH Nate Rodman (Corvallis, Ore.). With one down sophomore K.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn.) slapped one back up the middle to plate Tew with the first run of the game.
Ockner was in control early, setting down Western New England (32-11) in order in the first three innings. In the fourth, however, the Golden Bears finally broke through. A leadoff single was erased when Jeff Schult was caught stealing, but Tim Clark followed with an infield hit and with two down Steve Buckley knocked one over the fence in left to put Western New England on top, 2-1.
In the fifth Taylor Perun hit one in the gap in left center for a double that scored Steve Ambrosino, who led off the inning with a single. With two down Perun then moved over to third when Ockner was called for a balk, and then came in to score when Schult came up with a two-out RBI single to center to make it 4-1.
MIT came back in the top of the six when Cornwell slammed his team-leading fourth home run of the season to left to make it a two-run game. Tew followed Cornwell's blast with a double, but was stranded there when Golden Bear starter, Brendan Nugent, retired the next two hitters on a strike out and a ground out.
Nugent, who improved to 8-1 for the year by allowing eight hits and two runs in seven innings, then set the side down in order in the seventh before turning things over to Nick Salerno. He held MIT in check the rest of the way, allowing just a hit and a walk over the final two innings to collect the save.
Ockner also went seven innings for the Engineers, giving up six hits and four runs as he fell to 5-3 on the season. Senior Henry Zhu (Overland Park, Kan.) threw the final inning for MIT, giving up an RBI single to Mike Rubino for the final run of the game.
Tew and senior James McKinney (Wakefield, R.I.) each had a pair of hits in four trips to lead MIT. Schult and Buckley had a pair of hits for Western New England, with Buckley driving in a pair.
With the loss MIT will move on in the double elimination tournament to face No. 8 seed Daniel Webster College, who lost today to Southern Maine, 5-2. The Engineers and Eagles will meet tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in an elimination game.