WPI 5, Coast Guard 4
Worcester, MA --- Down a run late in the game, WPI plated a run to tie the score in the seventh and scored the winning run with two out in the ninth, as the Engineers walked off with a 5-4 victory over visiting Coast Guard in NEWMAC baseball action on Tuesday afternoon. The win boosts WPI's record to 18-5 and 7-3 in the NEWMAC, while the Bears fell to 7-16 and 2-8 in the conference.
Trailing 4-3 in the seventh, Bryan Watkins (Belmont, MA) walked and moved to second on a groundout before DH Mike Swanton (Foxboro, MA) lined an RBI single to left-center to knot the game at 4-4. Then in the ninth, Watkins reached again, this time on a single, to start the game-winning rally. The WPI left fielder was forced at second as Nick Bean (Middleboro, MA) reached on a fielder's choice. Bean forced his way into scoring position by stealing second with two out, giving Coast Guard the option of walking Swanton intentionally. Jameson Kokolis (Manchester, NH) also walked to load the bases, setting the stage for third baseman Paul Galligan (Weymouth, MA), who reached on a fielding error that forced Bean home with the winning run.
The Bears took the early lead in the contest on shortstop Tyler Babkiewich's (Golden, CO) sac fly in the third inning. WPI would gain its first lead in the bottom of the fifth, helped by a Cody McGregor (Westfield, MA) leadoff walk, singles from Watkins, Bean and Kokolis as well as a fielding error that allowed WPI to secure a 3-1 lead.
The Engineer lead was short-lived however, as Coast Guard regained the advantage in its next at-bat. Babkiewich started the rally by reaching on an error and moving to second on a sac bunt. Centerfielder Nolan Gallagher (New Milford, CT) responded with the Bears' first extra-base hit of the day, a double into the gap in left-center that brought Coast Guard to within a run. Catcher Cameron Carroll's (Reno, NV) single up the middle drove in Gallagher with the tying run before back-to-back singles from Ryan Milligan (Shamong, NJ) and Riley Beecher (Elgin, TX) loaded the bases with one out. DH Mike Massaro (Sewell, NJ) followed by giving Coast Guard the lead once again with a sac fly to left that put the visitors up by a run.
WPI reliever Brian Schopka (Tinton Falls, NJ) got the victory for the hosts with three innings of shutout ball. Schopka (1-1) allowed just a hit over the three frames in relief of starter Thomas Whiting (Farmington Hills, MI) who went the first six innings, allowing just one earned run on seven hits. Tyler Vieira (Dumfries, VA) took the loss for Coast Guard to fall to 0-1. Nate Toll (Olney, MD) started for the Bears, going six innings and allowing one earned run on five hits.
Swanton and Watkins each posted 2-for-4 days to pace WPI at the plate, while Watkins and Bean each scored twice. Swanton's two hits lifted his average to a team-leading .375, while the senior also currently leads the club in both slugging (.563) and on-base percentage (.432). Watkins also had an outstanding day in the field. A corner infielder by trade, the junior has shifted to left field due to an injury and registered 11 putouts and gunned down a runner at the plate to complete a key double play in the fourth inning.
Carroll posted the only multi-hit day for Coast Guard, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and another driven in, while Babkiewich and Gallagher each went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
Baseball will continue its homestand on Wednesday with a 3:30pm non-conference contest against Westfield State. Coast Guard will have the rest of the week off before hosting Springfield in a NEWMAC doubleheader on Saturday at noon.