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Western New England College defeats Westfield State in opening game of NCAA Division III Championship

Western New England College defeats Westfield State in opening game of NCAA Division III Championship
Box Score

MANSFIELD, Conn.
- Senior first baseman Joe Griglun (Southington, CT) had three hits, including a three-run homer, and senior Matt Rogers (Portsmouth, RI) tied a school record with his 10th win of the season to lead Western New England College to a 10-3 victory over Westfield State in an opening round game of the NCAA Division III New England Regional Baseball Championship Wednesday (May 19).

The third-seeded Golden Bears (34-10) will meet seventh-seeded UMass Boston(29-15) at 7:45 p.m. Thursday (May 20) in a winner's bracket contest. The sixth-seeded Owls (30-10) will meet second-seeded Wheaton (32-9) in an elimination game at 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

WNEC started fast taking a 2-0 lead in the first when Griglun doubled home senior shortstop Justin Walz (Groton, CT) who singled. Junior catcher Jason Leclerc (Chicopee, MA).then delivered a run-scoring single with two outs.

A throwing error by Rogers on a routine grounder led to an unearned run as junior catcher Pete Hogan (Weymouth, MA) had a RBI single.

The Golden Bears added a single run in the third following a single by junior left fielder Andrew Fatse (Hampden, MA) who knocked-in Griglun who led off the frame with a single. Fatse finished with three hits in the game.

The Owls came back scoring twice in the sixth on a two-run triple by junior second baseman Pete Grillo (Shrewsbury, MA) who also singled in the game.

Western New England College came right back with three runs when Griglun slammed his sixth homer of the season to deep left to extend its lead to 7-3 after six innings.

Coach Matt LaBranche's squad scored three more times in the eighth to seal the victory.

Griglun finished with four RBI and scored three runs while Walz had two hits and three runs. Leclerc also had two hits with two runs-batted-in and a run scored.

Rogers, meanwhile, settled down after his shaky start retiring 10 batters at one point, including the side in the third, fourth, and fifth innings. He threw 114 pitches allowing six hits with a pair of strikeouts and walks in raising his record to 10-1. Rogers also hit one batter.

Westfield State senior Jesse Vermeersch (Marlboro, MA) lasted only three innings giving up eight hits and four runs. He walked two and stuck out two in suffering only his second loss in eight decisions. Freshman Bret Siflinger (Framingham, MA) finished up allowing five hits with two walks. 

Vermeersch hit one batter while Siflinger drilled five hitters with each pitcher plunking senior center fielder Steve Kearney (Glastonbury, CT) once. Kearney has now been hit by a pitch 21 times this season.

The Owls played without senior designated hitter Kevin Lyons (Braintree, MA) - the MASCAC Player-of-the-Year - who was sidelined with an injury.

Westfield State had defeated WNEC 19-5 during the regular season, which was the Golden Bears' biggest lost of the year.