NEW LONDON, Conn. – Fourth-seeded Lesley University and top-seeded Mitchell College advanced to the title round of the 2017 New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Championship on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field.
The Lynx secured their spot with a 3-2 win over second-seeded Elms College, earning a title-round berth for the first time in school history. Mitchell won a pair of elimination games to advance out of the loser's bracket, defeating third-seeded Becker College 21-2 before posting a 9-4 win over Elms.
Lesley (20-17-1 overall) and Mitchell (29-12 overall) will square off for the NECC title on Monday, May 8 at 11:30 a.m. The Lynx can claim the championship with a single win while the Mariners would need two.
Game 3: Mitchell 21, Becker 2
Mitchell exploded for 21 runs on 18 hits to knock off Becker (19-19 overall) in the opening game of the day. The Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning and broke the game open with an eight-run third.
Tyler Pina went 3-for-3 with a homer and five RBI to lead the Mitchell offense. Garet Griffin and Kyle Hartenstein also had three hits apiece while Francis Prettitore and Markus Melendez each homered.
Mitchell starter Eddie Santiago lasted 8.0 innings and struck out a career-high 12 batters to improve to 6-1 on the season.
Kevin Perez and Vaibhav Desai each finished with a pair of hits to lead the Hawks. Desai (1-2 overall) took the loss on the hill, allowing four runs on two hits in 2.0 innings of work.
Game 4: Lesley 3, Elms 2
Lesley built a 3-0 lead after five innings and made the margin stand with strong pitching and clutch defense. The Blazers—who outhit the Lynx 13-7 but left 16 runners on base—had chances to tie the game in the final three innings but were denied each time.
An RBI single by Jacob Cervantes put the Lynx on the board in the second inning. Lesley padded the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth, the first coming on a single through the left side by Vincent Taliercio and the second on a double to right field by Steven DePalma.
Lesley starter Nick Iadevaio kept the Blazers scoreless through six. Elms finally broke through in the top of the seventh as Aedin Wadja led off with a single and Stephen Harrison followed with a home run to right field to cut the deficit to 3-2. The Blazers threatened to score the tying run later in the frame, but shortstop Nicholas Ferragine fielded a grounder and cut down the runner at the plate.
Elms had the tying run at second with one out in the eighth but came away empty as reliever J.P. Agiorgousis got out of the jam with a fly ball and a strikeout. The Blazers then loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth against Tom Muratore, who got the final batter to foul out to end the game.
Iadevaio (5-4 overall) gave up two runs on 10 hits and struck out three over 6.0 innings. Nick DeGrenier, Agiorgousis and Muratore each threw 1.0 inning of scoreless relief. Muratore, the winning pitcher in Lesley's first game of the tournament, picked up his second save of the season.
Elms starter Matt Plasse gave up three runs on six hits over 6.0 innings and fanned five. He dropped to 5-3 on the season. Tim Gelzinis went 4-for-5 at the plate to lead the Elms offense.
Game 5: Mitchell 9, Elms 4
The Mariners scored three runs in the bottom of the first to take an early lead and never looked back. Mitchell later extended the margin to 5-0 in the fifth and scored a pair of runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to seal the victory.
Starting pitcher Bryton Ferris scattered nine hits over 5.1 innings and allowed only one run while striking out three. Brian Ricker brought the Mariners home with 3.2 innings of relief to earn the save, allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits.
RBI singles by Prettitore, Pina and Tristan Hurley got the Mariners off to a fast start in the first. Pina then drilled a two-run homer—his second of the day—to put Mitchell on top 5-0 in the fifth.
Elms put the leadoff man on base in five of the first six innings but didn't capitalize until the sixth. Dan Brunetti and Alex Hoss set the table with back-to-back bunt singles, and Brian Hungerford knocked in a run with a single to left-center. The Blazers then loaded the bases with only one out before Mitchell turned to Ricker out of the bullpen. He retired the next two Elms batters to keep the 5-1 lead intact.
Mitchell shot back with a pair of runs in the home half of the sixth to go up 7-1. After an RBI single by Hoss yielded a run for the Blazers in the seventh, the Mariners responded with two more runs on a two-out, two-run triple by Jack Finnegan. Elms (18-20 overall) picked up its final two runs in the eighth before going down in order in the ninth.
Pina went 2-for-3 with three RBI to fuel the Mitchell offense. Hoss finished with three hits to lead the Blazers.
Elms starter Kyle Platner gave up three runs on four hits in 3.0 innings of work.
2017 NECC Baseball Championship
Saturday, May 6
Game 1: Lesley 5, Mitchell 4
Game 2: Elms 14, Becker 5
Sunday, May 7 (at Mitchell)
Game 3: Mitchell 21, Becker 2Game 4: Lesley 3, Elms 2
Game 5: Mitchell 9, Elms 4
Monday, May 8 (at Mitchell)
Game 6: #1 Mitchell vs. #4 Lesley, 11:30 a.m.
Game 7: (If necessary)