Caliri's Three-Run Blast in Seventh Sends Baseball Past Nichols in Local Slugfest

John Caliri

Northboro, MA --- In a game that saw 35 runs on 41 hits, senior John Caliri's (Hanson, MA) three-run blast in the seventh proved to be the difference as WPI outlasted Nichols 20-15 in a non-conference baseball game at the New England Baseball Complex.

It is the third time in the 11-year Mike Callahan era the Engineers have totaled 20 in a game. The other occurrences were a 20-0 triumph at Elms on May 1, 2007 and a 20-11 win over Clark on March 28th, 2008.

With the win, WPI improves to 10-6 while he Bison slip to 5-8 on the year.

Nichols sophomore Cam Cook (Phoenixville, PA) scored on an RBI ground out by junior Tim Ford (Stafford Springs, CT) and sophomore Ross Caswell (Randolph, VT) singled in the second run of the game in the top of the first. The Engineers evened it up on sophomore Nick Comei's (Haverhill, MA) two-run stroke over the fence in right center in the bottom of the stanza.

The Bison went down 1-2-3 in the top of the second while WPI took its first lead of the day when sophomore Evan Lacroix (Methuen, MA) scampered home on a two-out muffed throw.

Nichols jumped back in front as sophomore Nick Roy (Middletown, CT) doubled in a run and later came home on a sacrifice bunt by classmate Spencer Madden (Nashua, NH). The hosts then posted a game-best five runs in the bottom of the third. Senior Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, MA) delivered a three-run blast to right and was followed by classmate DJ Ouellette (Watertown, CT), who cranked a 1-1 offering to right as well. Senior Vinny D'Ambrosio (Mahopac, NY) chipped in with a first-pitch RBI single to left.

The Bison herded four more in the fourth. Junior Matt Hardy (North Attleboro, MA) doubled down the right field line to chase home the first run. Two pitches after a change, Ford clobbered a three-run shot to make it an 8-8 game. Freshman Joe Assenza (Poughkeepsie, NY) put Nichols back on top with a two-run homer before an out could be recorded in the fourth.

Nichols enjoyed a 1-2-3 fifth only to see the Crimson and Gray pull within one on a two-out run-producing single by Capuano in the sixth.

The visitors then matched the Engineers output in the third with five of their own in the seventh. Ford scored on a miscue and senior Benjamin Harrow (North Reading, MA) dropped an RBI sacrifice bunt in a pinch hitting appearance. After the second out was recorded, sophomore Brendan Martin (Nashua, NH) singled and Cook doubled to drive in a run each. Hardy's single to third pushed Assenza home for the 15-9 score.

WPI answered with three consecutive RBI as Comei's ground out was sandwiched by singles by D'Ambrosio and Venditti, who later scored on an outfield miscue. After Capuano crossed home plate following a wild pitch, Caliri connected on a three-run no doubter for the 17-15 lead after seven.

Venditti went yard on a 2-0 pitch to add two more to the Engineer total in the bottom of the eighth. The Crimson and Gray made it an even 20 on a freshman Kyle Opiekun (Cumberland, RI) pinch-hit RBI single to left.

After a 1-2-3 eighth, Nichols had a man in scoring position with two outs in the ninth only to see the slugfest end on a pop up to second.

Venditti finished 4-for-6 with a home run, three RBI and three runs. D'Ambrosio (two RBI, two runs), senior John Mulready (Rockland, MA) (2 doubles, two runs) and Caliri (HR, three RBI, three runs) all went 3-for-5. Capuano went 3-for-6 with a double, a homer, four RBI and three runs as Comei (HR), Ouellette (HR) and Lacroix (double) all logged a pair of hits and combined for four RBI and five runs scored. Comei and Ouellette accounted for four of WPI's five walks as Venditti and Caliri each stole a base.

Junior Mike Vaitkunas (Auburn, MA) pocketed the win (3-1) as junior CJ Doskocil (Sterling, MA), freshman Tom McCarthy (Jefferson, MD) and junior Dan Bettigole (South Windsor, CT) also saw time on the bump for the Engineers.

The top three Bison, Assensza (HR, two RBI, three runs), Cook (double, RBI, two runs) and Hardy (double, two stolen bases, two RBI, three runs) all turned in three hits as did Caswell (RBI, run) in the six hole. Ford (double, HR, four RBI, two runs) and Roy (double, two RBI, two runs, stolen base), the fourth and fifth spots in the lineup, also produced a pair of hits. The nine spot occupied by Martin also chipped in with a pair of hits to go with an RBI, pair of runs and a stolen base. Madden and Harrow chipped in with sacrifice bunts while Cook and Martin combined for a 6-4 double play.

Freshman Tyler Crane (East Amherst, NY) shouldered the decision as senior Joseph Nicolace (Cranston, RI), junior Adam Rigney (Niantic, CT) and freshman Chris Dipilato (Worcester, MA) also pitched for the Bison.

WPI welcomes Brandeis to the NEBC tomorrow for a 3:30pm non-conference game. The Bison return to Worcester Thursday for a 3:30pm first pitch at Clark.


A photo posted by WPI Athletics (@wpiathletics) on Mar 22, 2016 at 5:17pm PDT