Baseball Splits With Springfield, Boasts Third Consecutive NEWMAC West Division Title

Joe Fainer

Springfield, MA --- The WPI Baseball team split a pair of games with Springfield Saturday and secured the NEWMAC West division title for the third consecutive season. The Pride earned a 4-3 win over WPI before falling to the Engineers, 11-4, in the second leg of the doubleheader at Berry-Allen Field.

With the split, Springfield College is now 15-12 overall and, 8-7 in NEWMAC play, while the Engineers are 24-10 on the year with a record of 11-6 against conference opponents.

The Engineers are in the NEWMAC clubhouse while the other seven teams are in action tomorrow. As a result of the division crown, WPI is guaranteed at least the No. 2 seed and, pending tomorrow's three-game set between Wheaton and MIT, could claim the top seed.

The Pride will conclude its NEWMAC regular season slate on Sunday when it hosts Babson for a doubleheader beginning at 12pm.

Springfield struck early as Chad Shade (Pittsfield, MA) led off the bottom of the first by blistering a triple to right field and came around to score one batter later for the game's, and the day's, first run.

The hosts would push its lead to 4-0 after a three-run fifth inning.  After Patrick Coan (Pawcautuck, CT) earned a leadoff walk, Shade put runners on second and third with a towering double to right field.   Mark Joao (Wappingers Falls, NY) would later deliver for the Pride with two outs when he ripped a two-run double down the right field line.  Following a wild pitch and walk to Brandon Drabinski (Lisbon, CT) to put runners on the corners, Mike Jamieson (New Fairfield, CT) cracked a run-scoring single  to give the host a four-run cushion.

The Engineers got a run back in the top of the sixth.  Ryan Tropeano (Pembroke, MA) beat out an infield single, and after stealing second, benefited from a perfectly executed hit-and-run, scoring on a single to left by Nick Comei (Haverhill, MA).

WPI made it a two-run game with another run in the eighth, taking advantage of a leadoff double by Tropeano.   After a groundout, Steven Gallagher (Coventry, RI) roped a run-scoring single down the left field line.

WPI made things interesting with one last push in the ninth inning.  Pinch-hitter Tyrone Patterson (Upper Marlboro, MD) connected on a leadoff single and advanced to second following a strikeout and groundout.  After moving to third on a passed ball, Joe Fainer (Thomaston, CT) drove in Patterson with a single up the middle, forcing Springfield College head coach Mark Simeone to turn to his bullpen.  Jack Weinberger (Sunapee, NH) came in for the Pride, and after giving up a single and hitting a batter, settled down and struck out Gallagher to seal the one-run win.

Tyler Kelly (Alexandria, VA) was outstanding in his final game at Berry-Allen as he tossed 8.2 innings, scattering nine hits while striking out seven and walking just one to improve to 3-1 this season.  Weinberger earned his third save of the season.

Mike Vaitkunas (Auburn, MA) was tagged with the loss for the Engineers despite throwing eight innings of seven-hit ball, striking out five and walking a pair while giving up four earned runs.

Despite two hits apiece from Shade, Colin King (Berlin, CT) and Joao at the top of the order for the Pride, Springfield College fell to WPI, 11-4, forcing the doubleheader split on Saturday afternoon.

Freshman Nick Naples (Berlin, CT) took the bump in game two and pitched 4.1 innings, giving up just seven hits, while Zach Kerr (Niskayuna, NY) came in for two outs to get the Pride through the fifth. Kenny Walton (New Providence, PA) pitched the final 4.0 innings of the contest and held WPI to just four hits while striking out a pair.

WPI got on the board in the top of the second inning when David Larson (Port Tobacco, MD) singled to left, scoring Patterson but the Pride answered with one in the bottom half when Jamieson came around to score on a wild pitch. 

After the Engineers rallied for six runs in the top of the fifth and four more in the top of the sixth, Springfield College began chipping away at its deficit when Drabinski drove in Joao on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth to make it 11-2. 

The Pride tacked on two more in the bottom of the seventh, benefitting from an RBI single off the bat of Joao to score Shade, before Drabinski reached on an error, plating King to make it 11-4.

WPI was able to quiet the Springfield College bats for the remainder of the contest, sealing the seven-run win.

Release Courtesy Springfield College Sports Information