NORTON, Mass. – Coast Guard sophomore Matt Hanks broke up a combined no-hit bid by Wheaton with a ninth inning single through the right side of the infield off of Wheaton junior Ryan Grant but it was not enough as Wheaton prevailed by a final count of 4-0 in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference game. Wheaton (15-5, 9-0 NEWMAC) is ranked tenth in the latest D3baseball.com poll and has now defeated Coast Guard (13-9, 5-4 NEWMAC) the last five times the two have matched up.
Wheaton College junior right-handed pitcher Alec Palioca struck out a season-high nine batters and did not surrender a hit through seven innings of work to guide the Lyons to the victory.
Palioca issued two free passes, plunked one batter and struck out at least one hitter in every inning to push his record to 5-1 overall. Freshman Eric Dumas kept the no-hitter alive with one strikeout in a clean eighth inning.
Senior Nate Toll (2-2) was dealt the loss for the Bears despite seven quality innings pitched allowing just five hits, four runs (two earned), and four walks while three strikeouts.
Wheaton grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the first as senior co-captain Dan Gusovsky drew a bases loaded walk for his team-leading 26th RBI of the season.
In the next half inning, senior right fielder Sean Ryan robbed Coast Guard senior Ed Sella of an extra base hit with a diving catch near the right field line which allowed the no-hit bid to progress into the ninth inning of the game.
Palioca stymied the Bears for the remainder of his outing only allowing one runner to advance into scoring position while racking up seven strikeouts.
The Lyons tacked on three insurance runs in the eighth on two hits, one error and one runner left on base. Sophomore Apolinar De la Cruz knocked in freshman Jimmy Smith with a single up the middle and classmate Matt Lavanchy stung a two-run base knock through the right side of the infield for a 4-0 lead.
Senior Curt Barrett worked a scoreless eighth, yielding a single hit, in relief.
In the ninth inning, Wheaton's defense fended off a second and third base situation to preserve the shutout. Coast Guard senior Eric Gerken got caught in between third base and home plate as sophomore third baseman Justin Peluso initiated a 5-2-5-1-6 relay for the second out of the frame. After senior Mike Massaro walked, Grant induced an easy fly out to right field to keep the Lyons seven-game winning streak intact.
Head Coach C.C. Grant was pleased with the effort of the team today, saying, "Nate pitched his butt off. We couln't do anything to help him offensively." He also added that, "I liked the way we competed; we just need to do a little more at the plate."
The loss snaps a three game win-streak for the Bears but they'll try to get right back at it tomorrow at home as they host this same Wheaton team in a conference doubleheader scheduled to begin at noon.