NEW LONDON, Conn. – A battle between the top two teams in the New England Collegiate Conference resulted in a 7-5 victory for Mitchell College as it hosted Lesley University on Thursday afternoon at Alumni Field.
The win gave the Mariners (24-7 overall, 12-2 NECC) a sweep of the regular season series and a 1.5 game lead for first place in the NECC standings. Garet Griffin blasted a pair of solo homers and scored three runs in the contest to lead Mitchell.
The two sides traded a pair of runs in the first inning. Lesley jumped in front behind a two-out, two-run single by Vincent Taliercio. The Mariners quickly answered with an RBI single by James Rangel and a sacrifice fly by Steven Pagan to tie the game at 2-2.
Mitchell pulled in front in the second inning when a line drive to center by Eric Marriott took a crazy hop and allowed Jeremy Santos to score all the way from first base. The Lynx then loaded the bases with no outs in the third but ended up scoring only one run as Mitchell starter Bryton Ferris limited the damage.
Ferris stranded a runner in scoring position in the fourth to keep the score locked at 3-3. The top of the Mitchell lineup gave him a lead in the home half of the frame. After Marriott reached base via a hit batter, Kyle Hartenstein and Griffin followed with back-to-back homers to stake the Mariners to a 6-3 lead.
The Lynx came back with two runs in the fifth off reliever Roland Thivierge. Will Rhone and Steven DePalma set the table with singles; the former scored on a groundout by Justin Clark and latter crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Pumphret.
Some bad luck kept Mitchell off the scoreboard in the fifth. A perfectly-executed hit-and-run by Markus Melendez gave the Mariners runners at the corners with only one out. After Santos drew a walk to load the bases, Marriott smoked a single that clipped the base runner going from first base to second. The umpires ruled the ball dead didn't allow any runners to advance, and Colin Reed then got a pop up to end the threat.
The Mariners put up their final run of the day in the sixth when Griffin led off with his second solo shot of the game. He now leads Mitchell with four home runs on the season.
Thivierge kept the Lynx scoreless over the final four innings, although the visitors did make some noise in the ninth. Jacob Cervantes singled to bring the tying run to the plate, and with two outs pinch hitter Matt Bavaro hit a deep fly ball to right field. However, Jack Finnegan made the catch before tumbling over the fence to secure the final out.
Thivierge earned his first collegiate win by allowing two runs on four hits over 5.0 innings. Ferris yielded three runs on five hits over 4.0 innings and struck out two.
Rhone went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot and scored three runs for the Lynx. Lesley starter Nick DeGrenier took the loss, allowing six runs on seven hits over 3.1 innings of work.
Mitchell will next play a doubleheader at Elms College on Saturday, April 28 at noon. Lesley (22-8 overall, 11-4 NECC) returns to action at Southern Vermont College on Saturday at 1 p.m.