Engineers claim first-ever NEWMAC Tournament title
NORTON, Mass. – Third-seeded MIT captured its first-ever New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament title and first conference championship in the sport since 1991 (Constitution Athletic Conference) as the Engineers defeated first-seeded Wheaton by scores of 6-4 and 12-6 (10 inn.) in a best-of-3 series format on Saturday evening at Sidell Stadium.
With the win, MIT (22-13) earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III New England Regional later this month. The Engineers will make their second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament after earning an at-large bid to last year's regional. Wheaton (27-16-1), who reached the NEWMAC Championship game for the 14th time in the 16-year history of the league, will now look to gain a possible at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament as the Lyons are currently positioned seventh in the New England regional rankings.
MIT senior right-handed pitcher Max Ockner (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central) was selected as the NEWMAC Most Outstanding Player for his efforts over the duration of the tournament. Ockner pitched in two games (15 innings), yielded just ten hits, five runs (four earned), seven walks and fanned 15 batters including a game-high 13 against Springfield in a must-win contest in the semifinal round.
MIT 6, WHEATON 4
Ocker picked up the victory in game one against Wheaton going six innings, allowing six hits, three runs (all earned) and five walks alongside two strikeouts. Sophomore Michael Wymer (Flower Mound, Texas/Flower Mound) notched his third save of the season on two hits and a strikeout in the ninth.
Wheaton senior starter Alec Palioca (Wrentham, Mass./King Philip Regional) took the loss on 3 1/3 innings, eight hits, six runs (five earned), zero walks and three strikeouts.
The Engineers struck for three runs in both the first and fourth innings to jump out to a 6-0 lead. Junior Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif./Jserra Catholic) and sophomore Nate Rodman (Corvallis, Ore./Corvallis) drove in runs in the first, while freshman John Drago (Peoria, Ariz./Sunrise Mountain) punctuated the three-run fourth inning with a two-run double to right-center field. Senior Creed Mangrum (Sandy, Utah/Brighton) capped the scoring in the fourth with an RBI base hit down the right field line.
Wheaton cut its deficit in half in the bottom of the seventh with three runs on four hits, zero errors and two runners left on base. Sophomore Justin Silvestro (Waltham, Mass./BC High) lashed a run-producing double to center field and later scored on a balk and junior Tyler Contillo (Montville, Conn./Montville) plated a run with an infield single to second base.
The Lyons also scored one run in the eighth on an RBI single to center by senior Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) but senior Rob Bertucci (Belleville, Ill./St. Louis Univ. HS) worked his way out of a first-and-second jam with two outs inducing a force out at third base.
In the ninth, Wymer stranded the potential tying runs from scoring with one out on the frame using a fly out to center field and a strikeout swinging to secure the game one victory.
MIT 12, WHEATON 6 (10 Inn.)
Engineers' sophomore reliever Alan Wang (Paoli, Pa./Conestoga) earned the win in relief on two innings, three hits, two runs (both earned), zero walks and one strikeout. Freshman David Hesslink (San Diego, Calif./West Hills) received the no-decision over seven innings, eight hits, four runs (two earned), three walks and two punchouts.
Wheaton senior reliever Mike McGinnis (Mashpee, Mass./Mashpee) was dealt the loss on 1/3 of an inning, one hit and one run (earned). Classmate Nick Filloramo (Rochester, Mass./Old Rochester Regional) picked up a no-decision through five innings, six hits, three runs (all earned), two walks and four strikeouts.
Down 4-3 in the top of the ninth and facing a split with the Lyons, MIT rallied for three runs in the frame as Cornwell line an RBI double to left-center to even the score at 4-4 and junior Parker Tew (Chapel Hill, N.C./East Chapel Hill) bumped the guests ahead 6-3 with a two-run single to center field.
Wheaton junior first baseman Apolinar De La Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) answered for the Lyons in the bottom of the ninth as he launched a two-run home run to deep right field, his fourth of the season, to tie the game at 6-6. Sophomore Matt Lavanchy's (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) hustle was a key component of the game-tying two-run home run as he broke up a potential 4-6-3 double play to keep a base runner on for De La Cruz's eventual homer.
MIT went on to score six runs in the top of the tenth inning on four hits, zero errors and one runner left on base. Junior outfielder K.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn./Web School) pushed across the game-winning run on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded, while Cornwell delivered an RBI infield single, Rodman scratched home a run with a bases loaded walk and Tew empty the bases with a three-run triple to the left-center gap.
Bertucci came on in to finish off the ninth and recorded one strikeout, a ground out and a pop out alongside one base knock and a hit-by-pitch. Junior first baseman Phil Reiser (Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoochee) made the final out on a pop out with two runners on.
MIT sophomore catcher Kendall Helbert (St. Louis, Mo./Lindbergh) went 4-for-6 at the plate with two runs, while Cornwell was 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI and Tew had a 2-for-6 showing with a game-high five RBI.
The Lyons led 3-0 through the first four innings receiving RBI from Lavanchy, freshman Joshua LaJoie (Somers, Conn./Avon Old Farms) and junior Zach Bombard (Belchertown, Mass./Cathedral). MIT tied the score with a three-run fourth inning before both teams mounted comebacks in the contest.