Northboro, MA --- Senior Nick Comei (Haverhill, MA) enjoyed a 5-for-5 day, including his 25th career double and fifth career home run as WPI held off visiting Nichols 11-7 Tuesday in a non-conference contest at the New England Baseball Complex.
The Engineers (9-4) run their winning-streak to four games and simultaneously halt the Bison (7-4) streak at three.
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the first, junior Nick Roy (Middletown, CT) drew an RBI walk to put the patient Bison on the board. WPI was able to escape the inning thanks to a pop-up to senior second baseman Connor Kurtz (Lunenburg, MA), who made the grab in shallow right field, and a long fly ball snagged by graduate student Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, MA) in center.
The Crimson and Gray offense answered with three in the bottom of the first. Comei began by reaching the double milestone by driving in leadoff batter sophomore Ryan Tropeano (Pembroke, MA). The remaining runs were scored with two outs as Capuano chased Comei home with a single through the left side and junior Evan Lacroix (Methuen, MA) drove in Capuano with an infield single.
In all, the guests forced junior Drew Gelinas (Saco, ME) to throw 42 pitches (21 for strikes) while Bison junior Jackson White (South Dartmouth, MA) recorded 14, including 10 strikes.
Nichols loaded the bases again in the second; however, a grounder to second ended the threat. WPI plated three more in their offensive half. Tropeano, who is ranked 11th nationally in runs scored per game, reached on a two-out free pass. After stealing second, he scored on a single to center by Comei, who went on to swipe second as well. Sophomore Steven Gallagher (Coventry, RI) cranked a 2-2 pitch over the fence in center as he and Comei made it a 6-1 ballgame.
Both sides recorded a clean third inning, including only six pitches by Gelinas in the top of the frame. Nine batters were retired in order until freshman Christopher Cerniglia (Monroe, NJ) broke the pattern with a two-out four-pitch walk. Comei represented WPI on the base paths with a two-out ground rule double.
The Bison put together a run in the fifth behind back-to-back hits, a sacrifice bunt by Roy and a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior Tim Ford (Stafford Springs, CT). Junior Matt Howard (Worcester, MA) got the run back for WPI with a solo shot to right. Nichols added two more in the sixth when junior Cam Cook (Phoenixville, PA) sent a sacrifice fly to right and Cerniglia scampered home on a passed ball. Comei made it 8-4 when he won a 10-pitch at-bat with an RBI single to right.
Freshman Nick Colucci (Lynnfield, MA) pitched the seventh for the Engineers. After a leadoff walk, he picked off the runner and retired the next two batters. Nichols rookie Ryan Nesbit (Manchester, CT) opened the eighth with a double. He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a two-out double by Cook. Senior Matt Hardy (North Attleboro, MA) then allowed Cook to cross home plate with an RBI single as the Bison cut the deficit to a pair (8-6).
WPI plated insurance runs in the home half thanks to a Comei blast to left center, a Lacroix RBI double to left center and a run-producing single to third by freshman David Larson (Port Tobacco, MD). Ford responded with a first-pitch homer to left field to begin the ninth.
Comei totaled two singles, two doubles and a home run to go with a stolen base, four RBI and three runs scored. Tropeano went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, a stolen base and three runs scored. Gallagher (HR, 2 RBI, run), Howard (HR, BB, SB, RBI, 2 runs), Capuano (BB, RBI, run), Lacroix (2 RBI, double, run) and Larson (RBI) also had a pair of hits in the victory. Gelinas allowed five hits and struck out one to improve to 2-1. Freshman Matt Woods (Wilmington, MA), Colucci, senior Dan Bettigole (South Windsor, CT) and senior Mike Duclos (Greenfield, MA) each took an inning for the home team.
Hardy was perfect for the Bison with an RBI, a walk and a run scored in a 4-for-4 effort. Freshman Kyle Bouchard (Fall River, MA) batted 3-for-5 as Cook (double, 2 RBI, run) went 2-for-5 and Nesbit (double, BB, run) went 2-for-4. Ford added a home run and a pair of RBI while Cerniglia doubled. Roy, Cook and Ford were all credited with a sacrifice. White, who absorbed the loss, shared time on the hill with sophomore Tyler Crane (East Amherst, NY), senior Adam Rigney (Niantic, CT), freshman Brodie Altiere (North Adams, MA) and freshman Steven Lockwood (Paramus, NJ).
WPI is now slated to continue its homestand through the end of the month. Thursday's baseball game at Brandeis, which had originally been last Wednesday, will now be played on Friday, March 24th at 3:30pm with WPI as the home team. Additionally, next Wednesday's (March 29th) baseball game at Fitchburg State, will now be played on Thursday, March 30th at 3:30pm with WPI as the home team. All of the updates are now reflected on the schedule. Nichols, meanwhile, heads to Wheaton Friday for a 3:30pm start.
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