March 16, 2013

Hot pitching earns Bears a split with Springfield

NEW LONDON, Conn.-Senior Mike Massaro reached on an error in the bottom of the seventh inning in game one as Coast Guard put themselves in position for a sweep but had to settle for a split in their home and New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference opener. Coast Guard moves to 6-3 (1-1 NEWMAC) on the season and Springfield, playing their first games of the year now stands at 1-1 (1-1 NEWMAC).

 

Game One: Coast Guard 5, Springfield 4 

Trailing 4-2, sophomore Matt Hanks led off the seventh with a single to left field and was moved to second by classmate Blake Thompson's single to right to put the Bears in position to have a chance to tie the game. Following a strikeout, senior Eric Gerken stepped to the plate and reached on an error by Springfield's junior shortstop Sean Smith. The error allowed Hanks to score and set up runners on the corners with two outs for senior Nolan Gallagher. Gallagher strode to the plate and lined a single into right field to plate the game tying run and put runners at first and second.

Senior Tyler Babkiewich beat out a double play on the next play to keep the inning alive with another first and third situation for Massaro, this time with two outs. After taking a first pitch ball, Babkiewich stole second and the next pitch. With the count set at a ball and two strikes, Massaro lined an outside fastball to Springfield junior Frank Calabrese at the hot corner, but the ball caromed off his body, allowing Gerken to be scored from third on the play and Coast Guard took game one by a 5-4 margin.

Senior Riley Beecher got the start in the first game, tossing six strong innings, allowing just one earned run (four total) on seven hits, while striking out four and walking three. Senior Tyler Vieira (1-0) came on in the seventh in relief, working a scoreless frame to pick up the win and help Beecher to a no-decision. 

Springfield struck first in the top of the first. After junior Jared Hopkins reached third on a leadoff single (advancing on a two-base error by Beecher), senior Kyle DiFranco knocked him in on a sacrifice fly to center for an early 1-0 lead.

The Bears struck back almost immediately in the bottom of the inning. Babkiewich tripled to right field to drive home Gerken from first, and on the very next pitch Massaro hit a high fly ball to center - that DiFranco seemed to lose against the rock ledge behind home plate - to score Babkiewich. 

Springfield got a run back in the second inning to even things back up at 2-2 before the pitching settled in for both sides. In the fifth, with the score still tied, junior Ryan Grower scored from third on a passed ball to break the deadlock. Springfield would add another in the sixth to go up 4-2, as Grower singled in pinch runner junior Louis Ballas from second.

 

Game Two: Springfield 2, Coast Guard 1 

The nightcap was a lesson in capitalizing on opportunities for Coast Guard, as they saw numerous scoring chances disappear right before their eyes. After senior Derek Petty cruised through both the first and second innings, Coast Guard put men in scoring position in both of their offensive halves but was unable to score.

After a wild pitch to Gallagher with two on and no one out, put runners on second and third, senior Joe Petry was thrown out on a Gallagher grounder to third after getting a bad read on the ball. Babkiewich followed that up by grounding into a double play to end the threat in the first. 

In the second, senior Ed Sella recorded a one-out double to again put pressure on the Springfield defense. After a two-out walk to freshman Kyle Wood set up a bases loaded situation, Springfield's junior starter Alex Williams got Petry to chase strike three and keep the game deadlocked heading to the third.

Springfield broke the ice on the scoring in the third. After a leadoff single and stolen base by junior Mike McGowan, Smith grounded out to third. However, McGowan took off on the throw to first by Wood and Hanks' throw back across the diamond was wide of the bag and skidded into left field allowing McGowan to score. 

Petty did his best Houdini impression in the sixth. After loading the bases with nobody out, he was able to retire the next three batters in order with an infield fly, a strikeout looking, and a ground ball fielder's choice.

The Bears rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Gallagher led off with a walk. Following a fly out by Babkiewich, Gallagher stole second, and would come around to score a batter later on a single to left by Sella to tie the game at 1-1. 

Petty once again escaped trouble in the seventh as a base hit by Hopkins and a walk by DiFranco, followed by a passed ball put runners on second and third with two outs. Petty, however, was able to get Calabrese to ground out to short to end the threat.

In the eighth, senior reliever Curt Barrett came in to face the middle of the Springfield lineup. McGowan led off by being hit with Barrett's first pitch. Smith then sacrificed him to second, while reaching himself, on an error by Barrett, who tried to bare-hand the bunt attempt. 

Following a sacrifice attempt by sophomore Brent Poulin which turned out to be a well-placed bunt hit, Springfield found the bases loaded with no outs yet again. There would be no magic for the Bears this time around though. After sophomore Shane O'Leary flew out to right, freshman Billy Paskowski hit a sac fly to center to score McGowan with the eventual game-winning run.

Sophomore Jack Porter (1-0) picked up his first win in relief with McGowan claiming his first save of the season for the Pride. Barrett (1-1) suffered the loss for the Bears.

Despite pitching masterfully both Williams and Petty received no decisions for their efforts. Williams' final line was five innings, no runs, four hits, five strikeouts, and one walk. Petty finished with seven innings, one (unearned) run, five hits, four strikeouts, and two walks.

Also of note, Gerken left after grounding out in the third with an apparent upper leg injury and is considered day-to-day for the time being.

 

Acoording to Head Coach C.C. Grant, "I thought we pitched well enough to win both games, unfortunately didn't have timely hitting in the second game," pausing, before continuing by saying, "I thought that second game should, and could, have been won with runners in scoring position with less than two outs in the first two innings".

 

Tomorrow's game against Springfield - after being rescheduled from Friday - has been postponed due to unplayable field conditions at Springfield College. Coast Guard returns to action on Thursday, March 21st, with a 3:30 non-conference tilt against Johnson & Wales (4-2).

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