Western New England Earns Doubleheader Split at Salve Regina

Erik Lacaire went 3-for-7 with a triple, three walks, three RBI and four runs scored on Saturday as the Golden Bears split a doubleheader with Salve Regina. (Photo by Chris Marion)
Erik Lacaire went 3-for-7 with a triple, three walks, three RBI and four runs scored on Saturday as the Golden Bears split a doubleheader with Salve Regina. (Photo by Chris Marion)

Golden Bears take game two 8-5 after dropping opener 10-9

NEWPORT, R.I. (April 6, 2019) – In a matchup featuring the past two Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champions, the Western New England University baseball team earned a doubleheader split with Salve Regina University on Saturday afternoon at Reynolds Field.

The Seahawks prevailed 10-9 in the opener, a contest that saw 11 runs scored over the final two innings, before Western New England bounced back with an 8-5 win in game two.

Salve Regina 10, Western New England 9

Top Performers
Senior outfielder Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) led the way for the Golden Bears, going 2-for-5 at the plate with four RBI. Senior centerfielder Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.) went 2-for-4 with a walk, a triple, two RBI and two runs scored, while junior first baseman Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.) drove in three runs.

Salve Regina senior outfielder Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.) powered the Seahawks offensively with a 4-for-5 showing, three home runs and four RBI. Junior Dylan Ketch (Clinton, Conn.) and sophomores Anthony Cieszko (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) and Michael DeFusco (East Greenwich, R.I.) recorded two RBI apiece for the home team.

Game Review
Salve Regina opened the scoring with five runs on five hits in the bottom of the third inning. Cieszko drove in the game's first run with an RBI double, and Ketch added a two-run double before Smith belted a two-run homer, all before the Golden Bears recorded an out in the frame. 

In the bottom of the fifth, the Seahawks added to their advantage on a two-run triple by DeFusco that made it 7-0 in favor of Salve Regina.

After falling behind 8-0 in the seventh inning, the Golden Bears cut their deficit in half with four runs in the eighth. Senior catcher Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) led off and reached on an error, and senior shortstop Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) followed with a single before Lacaire drove them both in with a two-run triple. Two batters later, LaCroix recorded a two-run single to get the Golden Bears to within four (8-4).

Western New England then took the lead (9-8) with five runs in the top of the ninth. With two outs and the bases loaded, LaCroix again came through with a two-run single. Two batters later, Nussbaum drove in two more runs to tie the contest, and the go-ahead run crossed the plate with the help of a Salve Regina error.

The Seahawks rallied to win it in the bottom of the ninth, however, as Smith led off with a solo homer to tie it, and later in the frame Cieszko recorded a walk-off single with the bases loaded.

Western New England 8, Salve Regina 5

Top Performers
Seniors Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.) and Aaron Rios (Stratford, Conn.) both recorded two hits and drove in two runs in the game two win, while Nussbaum went 1-for-2 with a double, three walks and two RBI.

Smith again paced the Seahawks, this time going 3-for-4 at the plate with another home run, two doubles, one RBI and two runs scored. Freshman infielder Jack Betts (Narragansett, R.I.) posted a 2-for-5 effort with one RBI and one run.

Game Review
Western New England gave senior righthander Paul Wetmore (Hamden, Conn.) early run support as Lacaire recorded an RBI single and Nussbaum added a two-run double in the top of the first inning.

Salve got two runs back in the bottom half of the first on an RBI double by Ketch and an RBI single off the bat of Betts, and the Seahawks tied the contest in the bottom of the third when Smith hit a two-out solo home run.

The Golden Bears regained the lead with four runs on three hits in the top of the sixth. Cassella came up with no outs and the bases loaded and drove in two runs with a double. Two batters later, Rios delivered a two-out, two-run single to extend Western New England's lead to 7-3.

Salve again answered in the bottom of the sixth, pushing across two runs to cut the deficit to two. After the first three batters in the frame reached, DeFusco hit into a fielder's choice that allowed Smith to score from third. Later in the inning, Cieszko walked with the bases loaded, but the Seahawks were unable to capitalize further as they stranded three runners on base.

An RBI single by Loparco in the top of the ninth gave the Golden Bears a three-run cushion, and Western New England survived a bases loaded situation in the bottom half of the inning as Lacaire made a diving catch to preserve the win.

Up Next
Western New England (14-7, 6-1 CCC) returns home to take on Amherst College in non-conference action on Monday, while Salve Regina (14-8, 5-2 CCC) hosts New England College on Sunday.