MANSFIELD, Conn. - Senior Hal Landers (Salem, N.H./Salem) went 4-for-5 with four RBI to propel the No. 9 Wheaton College baseball team to a 6-2 win over Bridgewater State University in the NCAA New England Regional Wednesday afternoon at Eastern Connecticut State University Baseball Stadium.
With the win, the top-seeded Lyons advance to face No. 5 seed Western New England University (34-11) Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. The Golden Bears defeated No. 4 seed Keene State 7-1 in the first game of the tournament.
Junior Dan Gusovsky (Andover, Mass./Andover) scored three runs for Wheaton while freshman and New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Rookie of the Year Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) went 2-for-4 with one run scored. Junior starting pitcher Frank Holbrook (Middletown, R.I./Portsmouth Abbey) struggled with his command but worked his way through five innings to improve to 8-0 on the season. A First Team All-NEWMAC selection, Holbrook scattered five hits and walked six but did not surrender a run as the Bears left 11 runners on base during that span.
Leading 1-0 on an RBI single by Landers in the second, Wheaton scored twice in the sixth to extend its lead to 3-0. De la Cruz opened the frame with a single to left and scored on a throwing error on a sac bunt attempt by Gusovsky. Later in the frame, Landers poked a single to left-center to score Gusovsky from third.
The Bears (30-14) answered with a pair in the seventh off senior reliever David Longley (Brunswick, Maine/Brunswick) to climb to within one at 3-2. Junior Tory Buck (Shelburne Falls, Mass.) plated the first Bears run with a single to left that scored classmate Trevor Lawson (Easton, Mass.). Junior John Garabedian (Mansfield, Mass.) then reached on an error that allowed classmate Keane Costa (Fairhaven, Mass.) to come in with the second run of the frame.
In the eighth, the Lyons put up a '3' spot to take a four-run lead at 6-2. Junior Justin Connor (Arlington, Mass.) dropped down a suicide squeeze with two strikes to score Gusovsky from third. Landers followed with a two-run triple down the right field line that brought in Connor and senior John Keating (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury). Sophomore Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames) worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 10th save of the season.
Senior Corey Batista (Fall River, Mass.) allowed eight hits and five runs (four earned) in 7.1 innings of work to fall to 7-4 on the season. He walked three and struck out four. Buck finished the afternoon 3-for-5 while Costa and senior Ian Wiliams (Taunton, Mass.) each recorded a pair of hits.
Notes: The Lyons move to 26-20 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 17-9 all-time against the Bears ... with four RBI on the afternoon, Landers moved into a tie for No. 7 on the all-time RBI list at Wheaton (118) and No. 10 in doubles (38). He also moved into a third-place tie in all-time games played with 170 ... De la Cruz has at least one hit in 38 of Wheaton's 43 games this season ... senior Dan Haugh played in his 169th career game, which is tied for No. 4 in program history. He also moved in No. 3 all-time in career at-bats at Wheaton with 653 ... juniors Sean Ryan and Eric Jensen each went to the plate five times today, giving them each 186 at-bats this season, which is tied for No. 8 in single-season history at Wheaton.