SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Pitching carried the day for both teams this afternoon as MIT and Springfield College squared off in a semifinal doubleheader of the 2014 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Baseball Tournament. The result was a split, with No. 2 seed Springfield taking the first game 3-1 and No. 3 seed MIT the second, 3-2, which will force a deciding third game in the series on Monday.
MIT (18-12) broke through on the scoreboard first in game one when junior K.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn.) hit a two-out solo home run in the top of the second. That would be it for the Engineers, however, as Springfield (19-12) starter, Travis Lane, allowed just four more hits and held MIT in check over his 7.2 innings, giving up just the one run while walking three and striking out two to record the victory.
Sophomore Nicholas Locascio (Naples, Fla.) was sharp as well, allowing just four hits over the first six innings. In the seventh he ran into a jam when the first two hitters reached on fielding errors, with the Pride loading the bases on a bunt single by Steve Starr. Shane O'Leary then tied the game on a ground out to third before a walk loaded the bases again for the Pride. Sean Smith singled to right to put Springfield on top and CJ Monroe made it 3-1 when the only play that the Engineers could make on his bunt was to first, allowing the run to come home from third.
That was all that Springfield would need as Peter Baranski came out of the bullpen with two down in the eighth and allowed just a hit batter in the ninth as he recorded his sixth save of the season.
As it did in the first game MIT scored first in game two, putting a run on the board in the first when junior Parker Tew (Chapel Hill, N.C.) reached on a error, moved to third on a double by senior Creed Mangrum (Sandy, Utah, Utah) and scored on a balk. Springfield answered with a run in the fourth to tie things up, loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk. With one down Dan Bergami singled to right to tie it, but MIT starter, senior Max Ockner (Chesterfield, Mo.), bounced back with a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat.
MIT came right back to regain the lead in the fifth. With two down freshman John Drago (Peoria, Ariz.) reached on an error and then stole second. Tew followed with a double to left center to put the Engineers back on top. MIT then added a run in the sixth when junior Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.) and sophomore Nate Rodman (Corvallis, Ore.) reached on infield singles. Cornwell then stole third, setting up a sac fly from Parent that put the Engineers up 3-1.
Springfield made it a one-run game in the bottom of the sixth when O'Leary doubled with one down and came around to score on an MIT error. That would be all that Ockner would allow the Pride the rest of the way as he finished with a complete game victory. Springfield got a runner to third with two down in the seventh, but Ockner got the next batter to foul out to first to shut the door on that threat. He then set down the final six hitters in order to clinch it, striking out three of them.
Ockner finished with a complete game four-hitter, allowing just one earned run and striking out 13 while issuing two walks. Springfield starter, Oliver Collette, was also strong, going seven innings and allowing three runs, one earned, on four hits.
MIT and Springfield will decide their best-of-three semifinal series tomorrow with a 3:30 p.m. game that the Pride will host.