MANSFIELD, Conn. - Senior Dan Haugh (Andover, Mass./St. John's Prep) and junior Dan Gusovsky (Andover, Mass./Andover) each recorded two hits and three RBI to lead the No. 9 Wheaton College baseball team to a 10-3 win over Western New England in the NCAA New England Regional Thursday evening at the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball stadium.
Freshman Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) drove in a pair of runs for the Lyons, who improved to 36-8 with the win and 2-0 in the New England Regional for the first time since 2008. Wheaton advances to face the winner of tonight's contest between Saint Joseph's (Me.)/Trinity (Conn.) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
Wheaton threw up three runs in the first to grab an early lead. Senior Hal Landers (Salem, N.H./Salem) opened the frame with a single and came around to score on a sac fly to right off the bat of Haugh. Two batters later, Gusovsky laced a two-run double to right that plated junior Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton) and De la Cruz.
The Lyons tacked on single runs in the third and fifth to extend their lead to 5-0. Junior Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H./Gorham) singled leading off the third and scored on a groundout by De la Cruz, whose RBI single in the fifth gave Wheaton a five-run cushion.
Western New England (34-12) loaded the bases in the fifth with no outs against sophomore and New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Pitcher of the Year Alec Palioca (Wrentham, Mass./King Philip). Following an RBI single through the left side by junior Mike Rubino (Northford, Conn.), Palioca retired the next two hitters to escape the inning ahead by four runs.
Haugh scored on a throwing error in the eighth to give Wheaton a 6-1 lead, and a long sac fly to right by senior Dan Demeo (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury) plated Gusovsky with the team's seventh run of the game. An RBI triple by Golden Bears junior Tim Clark (West Springfield, Mass.) and an RBI groundout by junior Taylor Perun (Plainsville, Conn.) cut the Lyons deficit to 7-3 heading to the ninth, but Wheaton answered with three more runs to grab a 10-3 lead. Haugh plated two with a single to left, followed two batters later by an RBI single by Gusovsky.
Palioca improved to 8-0 with the win, which ties him for the single-seasons wins record with 10 student-athletes - including junior teammate Frank Holbrook (Middletown, R.I./Portsmouth Abbey). He allowed six hits and two runs over seven innings with four walks and one strikeout. The win was also Palioca's second against the Golden Bears this season.
Freshman Trevor Breton (Enfield, Conn.) started for Western New England and surrendered six hits and four runs in three innings. He walked one and struck out one to fall to 8-2 on the season. Sophomores Jeff Schult (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) and Steve Ambrosino (Laurel Hollow, N.Y.) each recorded two hits for the Golden Bears, who play Bowdoin Friday morning at 10 a.m. in an elimination contest.
Notes: Haugh's first-inning sac fly was his eighth of the season, giving him sole possession of first-place on Wheaton's single-season list. He also moved into a tie for first-place in career sac flies (17) with Sean Munley (2005-08) and No. 2 all-time in career at-bats with 657 ... Landers moved into third-place in career games played at Wheaton with his 171st ... Ryan now has 76 hits this season, which is the second-highest single-season mark at Wheaton and nine behind Chris Denorfia's record of 85, set in 2002. Ryan also stole three bases, giving him 50 for his career ... Gusovsky's first-inning double gives him 16 this season, which is tied for the sixth-highest single-season total in program history.