Golden Bears rally with two runs in bottom of ninth inning
NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. (March 9, 2019) – The Western New England University baseball team used a two-run ninth inning rally to earn a 3-2, walkoff victory over Springfield College on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action at the New England Baseball Complex.
Western New England senior outfielder Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.) drove in two of Western New England's three runs, including the game-winner on a single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth.
Sophomore infielder Sebby Grignano (Meriden, Conn.) reached base twice with a walk and a single, while senior shortstop Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.), senior outfielder Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) and junior infielder Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.) had one hit each for the Golden Bears.
For the second straight start, senior lefthander Bob Hamel (Southwick, Mass.) did not receive a decision despite turning in a solid effort. Hamel held the Pride to two unearned runs on six hits with six strikeouts over seven innings on the mound.
Senior lefthander Sean Halligan (North Branford, Conn.) retired the final two Springfield batters in the top of the ninth inning to earn the win in relief.
Springfield was led offensively by graduate Mark Joao (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) and sophomores Jack Cooney (Pittsfield, Mass.) and Noah Bleakley (Granby, Mass.). Joao and Cooney both went 2-for-4 with one run scored, while Joao also drove in a run. Bleakley posted a 3-for-4 showing at the plate with an RBI double.
Senior lefthander Brian Johnson (East Haddam, Conn.) got the start for the Pride and struck out ten batters while allowing just one run on two hits over 4.2 frames. Junior righthander Cole Donovan (Holderness, N.H.) came on in relief and took the loss after surrendering two runs on three hits over the final 3.2 innings.
Springfield opened the scoring in the top of the third inning with two runs on three hits. Cooney got it started with a two-out single to center field, before getting into scoring position with the help of a failed pickoff. Joao came up next and singled to left field, driving in Cooney, and Bleakley capped the frame with an RBI double to left center.
After being held without a hit over the first four innings, Western New England broke through in the bottom of the fifth.
Grignano reached on a bunt single with one out, and Loparco singled up the middle two batters later, ending Johnson's outing. Donovan came on in relief and hit the first two batters he faced to bring in Western New England's first run, before inducing an inning ending fly out.
The Golden Bears put one runner on base in the sixth and seventh innings, and went down in order in the eighth before putting together the game-winning rally in the ninth.
With one down in the inning, Nussbaum ripped a double to left field. Junior Jamie Schofield (Darien, Conn.) was hit by a pitch, and Loparco reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases.
Donovan then walked senior Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.) to tie the contest, before Cassella jumped on the first pitch he saw and sent the game-winning single up the middle, capping the rally.
• Springfield outhit Western New England, 8-5.
• Through two starts this season, Hamel has a 2.08 earned run average with nine strikeouts in 13 innings.
Western New England (1-1) travels down south to Lexington, S.C. for its next seven games at the Spartan Southern Classic, beginning with a contest against Case Western Reserve on Friday at 2 p.m. Springfield (0-1) opens its trip in Florida with a doubleheader against Rutgers-Camden next Sunday.