Baseball Opens NEWMAC Play by Using Strong Pitching to Sweep No. 12 Wheaton

Aidan Freeburg

Norton, MA --- Starting pitchers Aidan Freeburg (Billerica, MA) and Taylor Landry (Kennebunk, ME) combined to allowed just one earned run over 13 innings as the WPI Baseball team opened NEWMAC play Saturday afternoon with a road sweep of nationally-ranked Wheaton.  The Engineers took the opener 3-2 before grabbing game two 7-3.

WPI is now 9-5 on the season and 2-0 in conference action while the Lyons, who are ranked 12th in the latest Top 25, are now 7-5-1 overall and 0-2 in NEWMAC contests.

It also mark the first time WPI has defeated Wheaton since the Crimson and Gray swept the Lyons on the final day of conference play in 2009, splitting the regular season title between the two teams.  Before Saturday, Wheaton had won 14 straight in the series, including a pair of postseason contests.

In game one Freeburg earned his first collegiate victory on six innings pitched, four hits, zero runs and four walks. Freshman classmate Dan Bettigole (South Windsor, CT) completed the rest of the contest for to pick up a three-inning save alongside two unearned runs and one strikeout. 

Senior Alec Palioca (Wrentham, MA) was dealt the loss on six innings pitched, ten hits, three runs (all earned), zero walks and a game-high five strikeouts. Junior Mike Bisceglia (New Boston, NH) and sophomore Jared Clement (Wrentham, MA) combined for three scoreless innings out of the pen. 

Knotted at 0-0 through the first six innings of play, WPI struck for all three of its runs in the seventh as sophomore Vinny D'Ambrosio (Mahopac, NY) notched a two-run triple down the right field line and classmate Alex Venditti (Newton, MA) connected for an RBI single through the left side of the infield. 

Sophomore Matt Lavanchy (Walpole, MA) lifted a sacrifice fly to right field and junior Apolinar De La Cruz (Providence, RI) drove in a run with an RBI, but the Lyons' comeback efforts fell short in the ninth when left fielder David Trujillo (Sutton, MA) made a great catch to end the game with the tying run in scoring position at second base.

In the nightcap, Landry scattered six hits over seven innings of while allowing two runs (one earned), two walks and struck out three batters to improve to 3-0 on the season for the Engineers.

Wheaton freshman Michael Bruemmel (Bridgewater, MA) took the loss on 4 2/3 innings, six hits, three runs (all earned), four walks and four punchouts. 

WPI jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two full innings receiving a run-producing single by Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, MA) and bases loaded walk by Trujillo in the first and a sacrifice fly from Venditti in the second.

The Lyons cut away at its deficit with solo runs in the fourth and the seventh to make it a 3-2 contest. Sophomore Brett Fontaine (Newburport, MA) scored on a passed ball in the fourth, while junior Justin Peluso (North Reading, MA) delivered an infield RBI three innings later.

WPI answered with a four-spot in the eighth as Venditti collected his third RBI of the afternoon with a single to right to get the offense going. Junior Zach Blanchard (Warwick, RI) launched a sacrifice fly to center field, senior Brendan Walsh (Windham, NH) drove home a run with a base knock to right and Trujillo scratched in the final run on a fielder's choice.

Peluso picked up his second RBI of the game with a groundout to second in the ninth before the Engineers worked a ground ball to short to complete the sweep.

Second baseman D'Ambrosio collected six hits in 11 at-bats on the day and combined with freshman shortstop Nick Comei (Haverhill, MA) to successfully handle all 27 defensive chances to the middle infield over the two contests.  Walsh added four hits and Sean Kelly (Shrewsbury, MA), Venditti and Capuano all chipped in with three base knocks.

Wheaton hosts Clark for a NEWMAC clash on Tuesday, March 25 at 3:30pm. WPI travels to Emerson on Tuesday for a conference matchup at 6:30pm.

Majority Release Courtesy Wheaton Sports Information