VIDEO: Highlights from Wheaton/WPI
NORTON, Mass. – Junior Frank Holbrook (Middletown, R.I./Portsmouth Abbey) tossed a complete game shutout to propel top-seeded Wheaton College to a 2-0 win over No. 4 WPI in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Baseball Tournament action Saturday afternoon at Sidell Stadium.
Senior Dan Haugh (Andover, Mass./St. John's Prep) and junior Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton) each recorded an RBI for the Lyons (31-6), who host No. 3 Babson College later this afternoon in the winner's bracket. The Beavers (21-14) were the only NEWMAC team to win a series from Wheaton this season, taking two of the three contests. The loss sends the Engineers (22-16) to Babson Park, Mass. for an elimination contest with No. 2 Springfield, who dropped a 4-3 decision to the Beavers this afternoon.
Ranked No. 5 in this week's D3baseball.com poll, the Lyons scored the only run they would need in their half of the first. Senior Hal Landers (Salem, N.H./Salem) – who with the at-bat moved past current San Diego Padres outfielder Chrris Denorfia (1999-2002) into first-place in program history in that category (656 AB) – led off with a single and moved up 90 feet when junior Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H./Gorham) was hit by a pitch. Following a fielding error by the WPI shortstop which allowed Landers and Jensen to move to second and third, Haugh lifted a sac fly to right field to plate Landers.
Holbrook, meanwhile, was dominant early on, retiring the side in four of the first five innings, tallying five strikeouts along the way. In the sixth, Wheaton manufactured its second run of the afternoon to double its lead. Jensen reached base on a fielders choice with one down and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ryan followed with a ground ball to short that he legged out for an infield hit, and Jensen hustled around from second base and beat the throw to the plate.
Holbrook allowing a single to senior John Flynn (Albion, Maine/Lawrence) in the seventh and a leadoff bunt single to senior Mitch McClune (Pembroke, Mass./BC High) in the eighth, but induced inning-ending double plays in both frames to squash the Engineers rally hopes.
WPI threatened again in the ninth, placing runners on first and second with one down. Wheaton head coach Eric Podbelski paid a visit to the mount to meet with Holbrook and junior catcher Dan Gusovsky (Andover, Mass./Andover), and Holbrook responded by recording the final two outs to polish off his complete game.
Holbrook faced three batters over the minimum of 27 and scattered four hits on the afternoon. He walked his only batter of the game in the ninth and finished with six strikeouts to improve to 6-0 on the season. WPI senior Sean Minor (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) battled through seven innings and gave up seven hits and two runs (one earned) with one walk and five strikeouts. He also hit four Wheaton hitters.
"When we faced Minor earlier this season, he had probably his worst outing of the year," said Lyons head coach Eric Podbelski. "He was good today. We knew it wasn't going to be as easy as the last game. It was going to come down to some little things. Dan Haugh sat on an off-speed pitch and got it deep enough for us to get a run in the first. Sean Ryan hustled down the line to beat out a grounder, and Jensen never broke strike when he left second base. That ended up being a big run for us. Our pitching and defense was excellent. Offensively, you have to do the little things to beat a pitcher when he's good, and we were able to do them."
Ryan went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .393 while freshman Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) notched his fifth two-hit game of the season. Gusovsky went 1-for 4 to extend his hitting streak to seven while both Jensen and freshman Apolinar De la Cruz(Providence, R.I./Classical) saw their hitting streaks snapped at 10 and 19 games, respectively.
Flynn, McClune, junior Brendan Walsh (Windham, N.H./Central Catholic), and sophomore Matt Blackman (Bedford, N.H./Bishop Guertin) each picked up one hit for the Engineers.