HARWICH, Mass. – Fielding errors proved costly for the No. 5 seed MIT baseball team today in the squad's first game at the NCAA Division III Baseball North East Regional as five miscues led to three unearned runs in a 6-4 loss to No. 4 seed Endicott College. The Engineers will play again tomorrow in the double-elimination tournament, taking on the loser of the game between No. 1 Eastern Connecticut State University and No. 8 Mitchell College at 9:30 a.m.
MIT (24-14) jumped out on top first in the contest, scoring a pair of runs in the third inning. A single and a hit batter put the first two Engineer hitters on board to start the inning, with a wild pitch moving both runners into scoring position. Freshman John Drago (Peoria, Ariz.) beat out an infield hit to the right side to plate the first run of the game before senior Creed Mangrum (Sandy, Utah) made it 2-0 with a sac fly to center.
Four of the MIT errors came in the fourth inning when Endicott (31-14) took advantage and scored four times to take its first lead of the game. The Gulls loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles and a walk before a ground ball off the bat of Steve Morganelli was misplayed, keeping the bases full with run scoring on the play. After the Engineers recorded the first out of the inning, a single to right by Cody Hall tied it up at two-all. A bunt base hit loaded the bases again for Harry Oringer, whose fielder's choice ball was misplayed allowing two runs to score, giving the Gulls a 4-2 lead.
MIT came right back with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to tie it, starting the inning with a walk to Drago and a base hit by Mangrum. After junior K.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn.) sacrificed the runners up, Drago scored on a ground out to short by junior Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.). Mangrum then came in to score on a wild pitch, tying the game at 4-4.
It stayed that way until the sixth when Endicott scored what proved to be the winning runs with the Gulls again taking advantage of an MIT error. A one-out single by Hall started the rally, with an error on a fielder's choice play by the next hitter allowing him to make it safely to second. An infield single and a stolen base put runners on second and third for Brett Homgren who came up with a big, two-out, single to right that plated both runs.
MIT threatened in the seventh when Parent walked and Cornwell followed with a double, but Parent was cut down at home by the relay from short to keep it a two-run game. The Engineers also put their first two aboard in the ninth on a walk and a single, but Endicott relief pitcher, Davarn Nova, got out of the jam by getting the next hitter to foul out and then getting a double-play grounder to end it.
Nova picked up the victory, throwing the final 3.2 innings and allowing just two hits and a pair of walks while striking out two. JJ Branch started for Endicott and allowed seven hits and all four runs over his 5.1 innings. Senior Max Ockner (Chesterfield, Mo.) started for MIT and went 5.2 innings for the Engineers, giving up 10 hits and six runs, three earned, while striking out six and walking a pair. Sophomore Alan Wang (Paoli, Pa.) and senior Tim Wilson (Nacogdoches, Texas) finished up for MIT, combining to go 2.1 innings without allowing a hit and striking out one each.
Mangrum and sophomores Nate Rodman (Corvallis, Ore.) and Kendall Helbert (St. Louis, Mo.) all had a pair of hits to lead MIT. Homgren drove in the winning runs for Endicott with his only hit of the day, with Cam Farnham leading the Gulls with three hits in five trips.