Howard, Gallagher Homer as Baseball Claims Doubleheader Split Versus Clark

Matt Howard
Matt Howard

Northboro, MA --- WPI baseball exploded at the plate, getting home runs from Matt Howard (Worcester, MA) and Steven Gallagher (Coventry, RI) on Saturday afternoon at New England Baseball Complex as the Engineers salvaged the final game of a weekend series against Clark with a 15-5 victory. 

WPI matched its second-highest scoring output of the season. Howard (2 for 5, 5 RBIs) set the tone with a first-inning grand slam as five hitters had multi-hit games, led by a 4-for-5 day by sophomore Ryan Tropeano (Pembroke, MA). 

The Engineers (15-8, 4-3 NEWMAC) broke out of a season-high, three-game losing streak, previously falling to the Cougars (19-7, 4-5) by an 8-5 score on Friday and losing, 3-0, in the opening game of Saturday's doubleheader.  Clark's victory was its 19th of the season, setting a new school standard for victories in season. 

WPI squandered a quality start by senior Mike Vaitkunas (Auburn, MA) in the first game on Saturday, as he allowed three runs over seven innings, followed by a scoreless final two innings in relief by CJ Doskocil (Sterling, MA). 

On the other side, Clark ace Cal Slepkow (Rehobeth, MA) held the Engineers offense quiet, scattering four hits for his first shutout of the year to improve to 5-0. 

Nick Comei (Haverhill, MA) collected three of those hits for the crimson and white, also going 2 for 5 in the second game for a team-best five hits on the day. 

Adam Chochrek (Foxboro, MA) brought around Kyle Bonicki (Waterbury, CT) on a fielder's choice in the first inning to put the Cougars ahead for good. 

Nick Jordan (Seaford, NY) added to the lead with an RBI single in the second inning and then later scored on a base hit by Bonicki to make it 3-0. 

Comei doubled in the fourth and sixth innings, also singling and stealing a base in the bottom of the ninth, but he was stranded in scoring position all three times. 

The Boynton Hillers' bats woke up in the nightcap with a seven-run first inning. 

Comei and Gallagher walked and Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, MA) singled to load the bases with no outs in the first to set the stage for Howard's dinger. 

WPI sent 11 batters to the plate in the first frame, as Austin Lindner (West Windsor, NJ) later cracked a two-run double to left field, and then Comei singled him in two batters later to give the hosts a commanding 7-0 lead after one. 

Bonicki singled in Jordan to get the Cougars on board in the third inning, but the Engineers added three more runs in the fourth to go ahead, 10-1. 

Capuano (3-for-6, 3 runs) hit a ground-rule double that brought around Comei and then Gallagher sent a two-run bomb over the center field wall. 

Clark made a rally in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs to knock out WPI starter Doug Rives (Bethany CT), who nonetheless improved to 5-0 this year. 

Nick Tagaris (New City, NY) and Mike Duclos (Greenfield, MA) combined to hold the Cougars hitless over the final three innings to protect Rives' lead. 

Chochrek had an RBI ground out in the sixth and then later on Jake Vera (Plainview, NY) slugged a three-run homer to cut it to a 10-5 game. 

WPI got two runs back in the bottom half of the inning as Howard scored on an Evan Lacroix (Methuen, MA) sacrifice fly and Alex Palermo (Chelmsford, MA) walked with the based loaded to bring Kyle Opiekun (Cumberland, RI) across. 

The Engineers scored their final three runs to make it a 15-5 lead in the seventh inning, as Howard came through again by driving in a run and later scoring. 

Tropeano also added an RBI single to cap a strong day at the plate for WPI. 

The Engineers are back in action at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at MIT for the fourth game of a 10-game stretch of facing only NEWMAC opponents. Meanwhile, Clark resumes its schedule at home against Castleton State at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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