SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (May 6, 2019) – The Western New England University baseball team's comeback fell just short as the Golden Bears were eliminated from the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament with a 5-3 loss to Salve Regina University on Monday afternoon at Trelease Park.
Salve Regina (25-15) advances to the CCC Championship Series to take on Roger Williams, while Western New England's season likely comes to a close at 23-14.
Seniors Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) and Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) paced the Golden Bears at the plate with two hits each, while LaCroix, senior Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.) and junior Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.) drove in one run apiece.
Salve was led by sophomores Anthony Cieszko (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) and Michael DeFusco (East Greenwich, R.I.). Cieszko went 2-for-4 with a three-run double, while DeFusco also recorded two hits and drove in a run.
Making his first start since late March, junior lefthander Patrick Maybach (Saunderstown, R.I.) picked up the win for the Seahawks after striking out five batters and allowing two earned runs over 6.1 innings. Senior lefthander Will Ginsberg (Sharon, Mass.), who went the distance in Saturday's win over the Golden Bears, came on in relief to get the final eight outs and earn his second save of the season.
Western New England got to Maybach for a run in the bottom of the first inning as senior Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) walked with one out, stole second base and came in to score on an RBI single by Cassella.
After stranding a pair of runners on base in the second inning, the Seahawks put five runs on the board in the third. Western New England sophomore pitcher Kevin Hummer (Shrewsbury, Mass.) retired the first batter of the frame, but sophomore Madden Ward (Clinton, Conn.) followed with a single. Ward advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt and took third on a wild pitch, before eventually crossing the plate on an RBI single by senior Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.) that tied the contest. DeFusco then gave the Seahawks a 2-1 lead with a two-out, RBI single, before Cieszko delivered the biggest hit of the contest with a bases-clearing double to center field.
Western New England got one run back in the sixth, as LaCroix led off with a double down the right field line before coming in to score on an RBI single by Nussbaum. The following inning, the Golden Bears cut their deficit to two (5-3) on an RBI single by LaCroix that plated Loparco, who had led off the frame with a walk.
Western New England went down in order in the eighth, but the Golden Bears threatened in the ninth as Loparco led off with a double, senior Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.) reached on an error, and LaCroix walked to load the bases. Ginsberg was able to escape the jam, however, as he induced a game-ending double play to send the Seahawks to the championship series.