NEW LONDON, Conn. – Top-seeded Mitchell College and second-seeded Lesley University advanced to the title round of the 2018 New England Collegiate Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field.
The Mariners slugged their way to 15-6 victory over Lesley to advance out of the winner's bracket. The Lynx quickly regrouped to pick up a 16-4 win over fourth-seeded Becker College to come out of the loser's bracket. Earlier in the day, Becker topped third-seeded Elms College, 7-6, in an elimination game.
In a rematch of last year's title game, Mitchell (29-8 overall) and Lesley (27-10 overall) will play for the conference crown on Sunday, May 6 at 11 a.m. The Mariners can claim their sixth title with a single win; a victory by the Lynx would force a winner-take-all final game at 3 p.m.
Game 3: Becker 7, Elms 6
In the day's first game, Becker pulled in front behind a big third inning and didn't look back. The Hawks held off a ninth-inning rally to eliminate the Blazers, who stranded the tying run on third base. William Negron went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead Becker at the plate.
Elms jumped on top with single runs in the first and second innings, both on Becker errors.
The Hawks sent nine batters to the plate in the third and came away with five runs to take over the lead. Negron and Josiah Shepherd supplied back-to-back RBI doubles to tie the game, and a single by Noah Rivera knocked in the go-ahead run. A balk plated the next run, and Cameron Plank capped the rally with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
The teams traded runs in the seventh inning, with Becker scoring on a double by Ventres and Elms on a ground ball by Kevin Banas. The Hawks tacked on their final run in the eighth on a sac fly by Chris Testa to go up 7-3.
Elms didn't go down quietly in the ninth, closing the gap with three runs that included RBI singles by Thomas Slane and Nathan Ayala. Becker turned to Michael Iacovelli for the final two outs, and he delivered by getting a pair of fly balls to end the game.
Becker starter Tanyon Ventres, who took a no-hitter in the sixth inning, allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and struck out eight in 7.0 innings of work. He earned the win (2-6 overall) while Iacovelli nailed down his second save.
Banas got the start for the Blazers and was tagged with the loss (2-3 overall). He surrendered five runs on six hits in 2.2 innings.
Game 4: Mitchell 15, Lesley 6
Mitchell jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. After putting two runners on and moving them both into scoring position via a bunt, the Mariners scored runs on an infield single by Jeremy Santos and a ground out by Eric Marriott.
In the third, the Mariners capitalized on three Lesley errors to break the game open with seven runs. Peter Abate had an RBI single in the frame, and Garet Griffin capped the rally with a two-run, stand-up triple that hit off the right-center field fence and made it 9-0.
Lesley got a chunk back in the fourth, hitting up starter Jakari Pellegrini for four runs. Steven DePalma led off with a solo homer over the left-center fence, his third round-tripper of the season. One out later, Ryan Pumphret laced a double to the left-center gap and eventually scored on a single by Jacob Cervantes. Pinch hitter Matt Bavaro plated the final two runs with a base hit to right as the Lynx cut the deficit to 9-4.
James Rangel, Steven Pagan and Santos all homered to fuel a five-run Mitchell sixth. The blasts for both Santos and Pagan were the first of their collegiate careers, while Rangel recorded his third round-tripper of the season.
Brian Ricker pitched the final 5.1 innings for the Mariners to earn the win (3-2 overall) in relief, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits while fanning six.
Lesley starter Tom Muratore was dealt his first loss of the season (9-1 overall). He yielded nine runs (four earned) on five hits over 2.2 innings.
Game 5: Lesley 16, Becker 4
Three errors led to a pair of Lesley runs in the first inning. The Hawks got the runs back in the second when Plank tied the game with a two-run home run to left.
Becker had a chance to take the lead in the fifth when, with a runner on first, Negron doubled into the right-center gap. However, the Lesley relay was in time to cut the runner down at the plate and keep the score locked at 2-2.
Lesley pulled ahead in the sixth on an RBI double by J.P. Agiorgousis that scored Justin Clark, who led off the frame with a single. The Lynx then padded the margin with a three-run seventh, highlighted by an RBI double by Pumphret.
Becker cut the deficit in half with a pair of runs in the home half of the seventh. Plank scored on a wild pitch before Shepherd grounded out to force in another run to make it 6-4.
Lesley slammed the door with a pair of homers in the eighth and extended the lead to 10-4. Agiorgousis led off with a solo jack while Will Rhone added a two-run shot, each recording their third long ball of the season. The Lynx then put up six more runs in the ninth to end any doubt.
Nicholas Ferragine went 4-for-5 with three doubles, three runs scored and an RBI to lead the Lynx at the plate. A total of seven Lesley players finished the game with multiple hits.
Nick DeGrenier pitched 5.0 innings and allowed two runs on five hits in the victory (4-2 overall). Iacovelli got the start for the Hawks and lasted 7.0 innings, surrendering six runs (four earned) on eight hits while striking out five.