April 20, 2012

MIT Eliminated from Postseason Contention with Losses at Babson

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT entered today's doubleheader against Babson College trailing the Beavers by just one game for the sixth and final spot in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament but dropped a pair of games to the host Beavers to officially fall out of contention for a postseason berth on Friday afternoon. Tech fell 5-2 in game one before losing the nightcap, 10-6 to move to 9-20 overall and 5-9 in league play. Meanwhile, Babson clinched its spot in next week's NEWMAC tournament, improving its ledger to 21-16 and 8-6 in conference.

Babson broke through first in the second inning of game one, which early on featured a pitchers' duel between Babson first-year reliever Meghan Hayes (Robbinsville, Mass.) and MIT rookie starter Ellie Fodor (Trenton, Mich.). After sophomore Kelly King (Kennebunk, Maine) reached on a third-strike wild pitch and junior Ashleigh Phelps (West Chester, Pa.) drew a walk, sophomore Christa Shorette (Southington, Conn.) laced a two-out single to left to plate King with the game's first run.

The Beavers made it 2-0 in the bottom of the third, beginning with back-to-back one-out walks to senior captain Jess Pashos (Winchester, Mass.) and junior captain Catie Funk (Scarborough, Maine). Senior captain Nicole Latini (East Bridgewater, Mass.) then reached on an infield single to load the bases, and sophomore Sam Pilkington (Westborough, Mass.) followed with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a 2-0 game.

Babson got another run in the fifth, as junior Jackie Enos (Taunton, Mass.) led off with a double to left-center and then came around to score on an error on Pashos' sacrifice bunt attempt. The Beavers then put the game out of reach with two in the bottom half of the sixth, thanks to a two-out, two-run double to left-center by Enos that scored Shorette and junior pinch-runner Breezy DiPietro (Essex, Mass.) for a 5-0 cushion.

That was more than enough support for Hayes, who came on in relief of junior Megan Brain (Pompton Plains, N.J.) to start the second after Brain was hit by a comebacker in the top of the first. Hayes (5-4) went the final six frames, allowing one run on three hits, walking three and striking out five. Brain added a scoreless frame, pitching around a pair of hits and striking out two before leaving after one.

Fodor (5-8) pitched well before tiring late in the game for MIT, finishing with four earned runs allowed on five hits, walking four and fanning six in 5 2/3 innings. Senior captain Katie Harrington (Lexington, Ky.) led the Engineers' offense with two hits, including a single in the top of the seventh that drove in junior Anna Christensen (Vernon Hills, Ill.) with the team's lone run.

It was MIT who struck first in game two, as senior captain Nydia Ruleman (Germantown, Tenn.) led off the game with a hit-by-pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored when freshman  Karly McLaughlin (Eswardsville, Ill.) reached on a two-out error.

The Beavers responded with a big inning in the bottom of the second, scoring four times to move in front, 4-1. King drove in the first two when she blasted her fifth home run of the season to dead center, plating Pilkington and giving the hosts a 2-1 edge. Phelps then lined a double off the wall in left and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Pashos, and a wild pitch later in the inning enabled Shorette to scamper home from third to cap the four-run outburst.

MIT fought back with two runs in the top of the third, beginning when Christensen reached on an error to start the frame. A wild pitch and a hit-batsman then put runners on first and third for McLaughlin, who drilled a sinking liner to right to score Christensen. Babson did come up with a big out on the play, however, as right fielder Shorette's throw to first just beat McLaughlin for the inning's first out. That would prove critical later in the frame, as Fodor followed with an RBI-single to center to cut the Engineers' deficit to 4-3. Sophomore Tess Rubega (Norwich, Conn.) then came on in relief of classmate Christina Miquel (Emerson, N.J.) and retired the final two batters to prevent further damage.

Babson pulled away with six runs over the next two innings, resulting in a 10-3 advantage. King knocked in her third run of the game with a double to center in the third, while Latini added a three-run homer to right - her fourth of the season - to go with a two-run double by Shorette in the five-run fourth.

MIT would get three back in the sixth, highlighted by an RBI-double to left by senior captain Jessica Iacobucci (Phoenixville, Pa.) and a two-run triple to right by Christensen, but Rubega got the final two hitters of the inning and then pitched a scoreless seventh to finish off the 10-6 win. The seventh featured a fantastic play at third by senior Kayla Davis (Gardner, Mass.), who made a lunging backhand snare of a line drive down the line and then doubled-up the runner at first for a game-ending doubleplay.

Miquel went the first 2 1/3 innings in the circle for Babson, allowing three runs - one earned - on one hit, walking one and striking out two. Rubega (9-4) came on and earned the win in relief, giving up three runs on four hits, walking three and fanning a pair in 4 2/3 innings of work. King finished the nightcap 2-for-2 with a double, a homer, and three RBIs, Phelps added three hits - including two doubles - in four trips, and Pashos went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Funk also added a pair of doubles in the win, giving her 52 in her career to move past Babson softball legend Colleen Kelly '04 into first place on the program's all-time list.

Iacobucci (3-10) started and took the loss in game two for MIT, allowing four runs in 1 1/3 innings. McLaughlin pitched 2 2/3 innings and gave up six runs before Fodor came on and tossed 2 1/3 scoreless frames. One of five Engineers with one hit apiece, Christensen finished with 2 RBIs and a run scored.

MIT will close out its conference slate tomorrow afternoon with a home doubleheader against WPI beginning at 12:00 p.m. The games will be a part of the 35th anniversary celebration of MIT softball and will feature a ceremony in between games to recognize the alumnae in attendance. 

Portions of release courtesy of Babson Sports Information