Norton, Mass. - April 23, 2009 - Despite a late rally, the Springfield College baseball team dropped a 4-2 decision to Wheaton College in its opening game of the 2009 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Baseball Championship.
In a rematch of last year's NEWMAC Tournament championship game, the second-seeded Lyons held on to beat the fifth-seeded Pride, on the first day of the league tournament on Thursday in Sidell Stadium.
The Lyons move on to host fourth-seeded Babson College tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., when the Pride will host number-six Clark University. Wheaton, which is ranked 12th nationally and is tied for third in New England, improved to 27-7 overall. Springfield is now 9-22 on the season.
The Pride started the game with a pair of strong defensive plays by senior shortstop Jamie Mackie (Springfield, Mass.) and sophomore left fielder John Schmaltz (Cromwell, Conn.) for the first two outs in the opening inning, and the Pride eventually put two on with two down in the second before stranding both.
Wheaton junior left fielder Paul Malaguti (Andover, Mass.) countered with a diving catch in the third inning before senior Nick Pecora (Highland Park, N.J.) drilled a solo home run with one gone in the fourth. The Lyons threatened for more, but with runners on second and third and two out, Malaguti lined a shot that hit sophomore pitcher Steve Forbes (Northport, N.Y.), who tossed to first to end the frame.
The following inning, the Lyons strung together another rally and pushed two unearned runs across. Freshman pinch runner David Brandt (Contoocook, N.H.) scored on a two-out throwing error, and Pecora followed with an RBI single to right, making it 3-0.
Springfield put runners at second and third with none out in the sixth, but Wheaton freshman third baseman Dan Haugh (Andover, Mass.) gunned to the plate on a fielder's choice for the first out before starting an inning-ending double play off the bat of the next Pride hitter. The visitors broke through in the seventh, as the mishandling of a two-out fly ball allowed a pair to score, but the batter was thrown out trying to reach third.
With his team down just 3-2, Mackie singled with one out in the eighth, but Pecora began an inning-ending twin killing from shortstop against the next batter. The senior captain played a vital role in helping Wheaton plate an insurance run in the home half, as Pecora's blooper landed for an infield double. Junior Jeff Lieneck (Foxboro, Mass.) then sacrificed him to third before sophomore Sean Munley (Trenton, N.J.) followed with an RBI single up the middle and beyond the drawn-in infielders.
Senior Josh Simmons (Cranston, R.I.) finished things out in the ninth, pitching around a one-out double. After fanning the first batter on three pitches and yielding the hit, Simmons induced a pop-up around the plate and caught the final Pride batter looking at strike three to record his seventh save.
Senior Adam Gingras (Woonsocket, R.I.) did not allow an earned run during seven innings of work, scattering eight hits while striking out four and not walking a batter. Sophomore Chad Kasik (Dudley, Mass.) followed with a shutout eighth. Pecora led Wheaton by going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI, finishing a triple shy of the cycle and notching nearly half the of the Lyons' seven hits.
Senior Ryan Tatreau (Greenfield, Mass.) was 3-for-4 for the Pride, while Mackie and senior Drew Michael (Longmeadow, Mass.) each picked up two knocks. Forbes was the hard-luck loser, yielding one earned run on five hits in 4.2 frames, as head coach Mark Simeone was denied his 300th career victory.