Palioca pitches seven strong, strikes out eight in win
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – In a rematch of the 2012 NCAA Division III College World Series national championship game, the Wheaton College baseball team - ranked no.3 overall in the latest D3baseball.com national poll - earned an 8-5 triumph over no.2 Marietta College, the defending national champions, on Saturday afternoon.
Junior right-hander Alec Palioca (Wrentham, Mass./King Philip Regional) pushed his record to 2-1 overall on seven innings of work. Palioca scattered five hits and gave up two runs (both earned) to go along with two walks and a game-high eight strikeouts. Palioca was dominant towards the tail end of his outing striking out six batters (two in each frame) while allowing just two hits from the fifth inning on.
Classmate Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Avon Old Farms School) recorded his third save of the season on one-and-two-thirds innings, one hit, two walks and three punchouts. Grant entered the contest in the bottom of the eighth with a one out, bases loaded jam as Wheaton led 8-3. Grant allowed two runs to score on a two-run single to right field but bounced back with a pair of strikeouts to end the Pioneers threat in the frame.
With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, Grant struck out Marietta sophomore Mitch Geers (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) swinging and Wheaton second baseman Matt Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) made a diving catch to his left side in the hole to rob Chris Winpigler (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora) of a hit to end the game.
Pioneers' sophomore left-handed pitcher Stephen Bascom (Cincinnati, Ohio/Indian Hill)suffered the loss on five-and-two-thirds innings, eight hits, five runs (all earned), three walks and five strikeouts.
Wheaton took an early 1-0 advantage in the second as senior designated hitter Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton) roped a leadoff double to left field and sophomore first baseman Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) followed with a double down the right field line for his fourth RBI of the season. Bascom stranded a potential second run from scoring with a strikeout looking and a fly out after sophomore third baseman Justin Peluso (North Andover, Mass./Saint John's Prep) moved De la Cruz over to third with a sacrifice bunt.
In the bottom half of the third, Marietta answered with an RBI single up the middle from senior left fielder Jordan Grilliot (Brookville, Ohio/Northmont). Sophomore shortstop Ryan Hanahan (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) set up the scoring with a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by classmate Christian Demko (Xenia, Ohio/Belbrook).
Sophomore right fielder Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) helped the Lyons reclaim the lead in the fourth, 2-1, with a bases loaded single through the left side of the infield. Ryan scored his second run of the game by working a leadoff walk. De la Cruz pushed Ryan to second with a single to right field and Peluso dropped down his second sacrifice bunt (3-4) to move over both runners. The Pioneers escaped any further damage with the bases loaded on a strikeout looking and a fly out to left.
Wheaton added some cushion room in the sixth with three runs on four hits, one error and two runners left on base. Sophomore center fielder Zach Bombard (Belchertown, Mass./Cathedral) made it 3-1 with an RBI single to center and Lavanchy opened up the gap to 5-1 with a two-run single to center plating Bombard and Foley.
In the seventh, Peluso and Foley tacked onto Wheaton's lead, 7-1, with run-producing doubles while Contillo plated a run in the eighth with an RBI single to right field.
The Lyons compiled 15 hits total in the contest and had six of their players have multi-hit games. Senior shortstop Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H./Gorham) went 2-for-5 with two doubles while Peluso had a 2-for-3 showing at the plate with two runs scored, two sac bunts and one RBI. Bombard, De la Cruz, Foley and Lavanchy also contributed two hits apiece.
Wheaton (5-3, 0-0 NEWMAC) wraps up its spring break trip tomorrow against Wooster at 11:00 a.m. in Port Charlotte, Fla. at the Snowbird Classic. Marietta (7-3) hosts Montclair State University on Friday, March 22 at 3:00 p.m.