De La Cruz goes 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI in the win
NORTON, Mass. – First-seeded Wheaton College edged fourth-seeded Babson College by a 3-2 score on Monday evening at Sidell Stadium to advance to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Baseball Tournament championship round for the fifth-straight season.
Wheaton (26-12-1) will now host the NEWMAC Tournament championship round on Saturday, May 3 at Sidell Stadium. The Lyons will take on MIT (18-12), who defeated Springfield College earlier today to advance to the finals, in a best-of-three series to determine the conference champion beginning at noon. If both teams split games next Saturday, Wheaton and MIT will play on Sunday, May 4 at 1 p.m. in a winner take all matchup for the NEWMAC title. Babson sees its 2014 campaign come to a close at 20-15 overall.
Freshman Michael Bruemmel (Bridgewater, Mass./Bridgewater-Raynham) improved to 6-2 on the season on six innings pitched, six hits, two runs (one earned), zero walks and three strikeouts. Juniors Mike Gibbons (Simsbury, Conn./Avon Old Farms) and Mike Bisceglia (New Boston, N.H./Goffstown) combined for two scoreless innings out of the pen, while senior closer Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Avon Old Farms) registered his tenth save of the spring with a strikeout, hit-by-pitch and two ground outs in the ninth.
Babson senior starter Matt Grenier (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding) took the loss over 7 2/3 innings of work, ten hits, three runs (all earned), one walk and a strikeout. Classmate Derek Richards (Framingham, Mass./Framingham) recorded one out in the eighth on a ground ball to short.
In the top of the first, the Beavers threatened out of the gate with runners on first and second and one out, but Bruemmel worked out of the jam with a strikeout looking and a foul out to third to keep the guests off the scoreboard.
Wheaton used that momentum in the bottom half of the frame as junior Zach Bombard (Belchertown, Mass./Cathedral) notched a leadoff single to right field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch to jump start the offense.
Bombard eventually came around to score on a two-out RBI single from junior first baseman Apolinar De La Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical), his team-leading 14th two-out RBI of the season, to give the Lyons a 1-0 advantage. De La Cruz then stole second base on a delayed steal, his seventh of the year, and was promptly driven home on a single to right-center by Bisceglia for a 2-0 margin.
Babson cut the deficit in half in the second inning (2-1) as freshman Owen Shea (Northborough, Mass./Saint John's) roped a one-out double to left field. Junior Chris Warren (Medfield, Mass./Medfield) scored on the play after he led off the frame with a single to left and stole second base, his fifth swipe of the season.
Bruemmel went on to strand the tying run at second base in the frame and settled in over the next few innings by retiring ten hitters in a row (second to the fifth).
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lyons added their all-important insurance run as junior second baseman Justin Peluso (North Reading, Mass./Saint John's Prep) scratched home a run on a 6-3 double play to make it a 3-1 gap. Junior catcher Zach Horton (North Attleboro, Mass./North Attleboro) led off the inning with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a bunt single by Bombard that dribbled all the way down the third base line until it kissed off the bag and remained in fair territory untouched by a Babson infielder to set up the scoring opportunity for Peluso.
Warren brought Babson within one run for the second time in the sixth with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Warren went on to advance to second base on a wild pitch, but Bruemmel weathered the game-tying threat with a strikeout swinging to keep Wheaton ahead by a 3-2 score.
The Beavers also threatened to even the contest in the seventh and eighth innings as Babson put the tying run at second base in both frames. Bisceglia turned out to be the difference in each inning as the junior reliever used a force out at second in the seventh and a strikeout swinging in the eighth to squander both of Babson's scoring chances. Grant sealed the victory in the ninth despite hitting a batter with two outs for his tenth save of the season (46th career).
De La Cruz finished the contest with a 3-for-4 line at the plate alongside a walk, run scored and one RBI. Bombard picked up the Lyons only other multi-hit game going 2-for-4 with a run out of the leadoff spot.
With the win, Wheaton now is 34-17 against Babson in the all-time series which dates back to 1998. The Lyons, who are 37-12 all-time versus MIT since 1998, will meet the Engineers in the NEWMAC Championship round for the second consecutive season next Saturday.