Baseball Takes TwoBy Ethan T. Goetz
It was another weekend of comebacks for the MIT varsity baseball team, as the Engineers won two of three games in the MIT hosted Fall Classic.
On Saturday morning, the Engineers were greeted with a cold constant drizzle, but by game time the sun was out and UMass-Boston was ready to play. Brian Furgala ’02 took the hill for the Engineers and UMass tried to rattle him early. With a few hits and poor MIT defense, UMass got on the board first and threatened for a big inning. But two runners were thrown out at the plate on double steal attempts, in large part due to the great plate-blocking ability of Timothy J. Gilmartin ’01.
The score stood at 2-0 UMass in the third when it looked like MIT would cut the lead. With one out, back-to-back singles to left-center by Ryan S. Balter ’99 and Ethan T. Goetz ’00 put two runners on for the middle of the Engineers batting order. Gilmartin proceeded to bounce out to second, but Balter tried to score from second on the play and was thrown out at the plate, ending the inning. In the fourth, UMass tacked on another unearned run, but could not hold MIT in the bottom half of the 4th. David M. Piho ’00 led off with a towering triple to right-center, and Christopher J. Albrecht ’00 followed with an RBI double just inside the right field foul line. Albrecht was then driven in by a James R. McDonald ’01 single to left, cutting the deficit to 3-2. Two batters later, Brett K. Klein ’03 tried to tie the score with a single to right, but McDonald was thrown out attempting to score, ending the inning.
Furgala was getting hot on the mound, continuously confusing UMass with a slew of sliders and changeups. The Engineers looked to tie the game in the bottom of the 5th and did just that when Gilmartin scored on a wild pitch after singling and swiping a bag. Furgala took the momentum and shut down UMass in the 6th and 7th. MIT went quietly as well, and the game went to extra innings. Furgala wasn’t done yet, as he froze hitters left and right to finish the 8th. It looked like the game was headed to the 9th, as MIT’s first two batters went down. But McDonald (2-4, 2 RBIs) took matters into his own hands, and with two outs in the bottom of the 8th, homered to left-center winning the ballgame in dramatic fashion. The dugout erupted as McDonald rounded the bases. Furgala (8 innings pitched, 1 earned run) picked up the complete game victory for his first win of the fall.
Engineers master the comeback
In game two on Saturday, MIT squared off against Wentworth Institute of Technology. Whatever momentum the Engineers had from game one wore off during a 3 hour break between games, as MIT came out flat and fell behind fast.
The scored stood 5-0 WIT after 3 innings and it would have been more if not for a phenomenal throw by Piho on a relay nailing an WIT baserunner at the plate.
Ahren Lembke-Windler ’00 relieved Juan Zayas ’02 to start the bottom of the 4th, but even after WIT reached Windler for one run in the 4th, the Engineers knew they were still in the game.
The 5th inning began with a sense of urgency. Goetz led off with a groundball through the right side, and Gilmartin followed with a single to right. With two runners on, opposing pitchers do not want to see Piho stroll to the plate. And stroll he did, whacking a monstrous three run homer half way to Burton-Connor, cutting the deficit in half. MIT stayed hot and one out later, Lembke-Windler singled and got into scoring position on a wild pitch. Jason C. Andrews ’03 then drove him in with a single to left field.
The score stood at 6-4 until the top of the 7th. A two-run lead by WIT was hardly enough to hold the Engineers. Goetz started the rally with a hit by pitch and scored three pitches later when Gilmartin tripled to center.
A passed ball scored Gilmartin, tying the score at 6. WIT was a little wiser when dealing with Piho this time around, and he drew a quick walk. Albrecht followed with a single, putting runners at first and second. The game now stood in the hands of Lembke-Windler, as he strode to the plate with the go ahead run at second. Windler proceeded to double down the left-field line, knocking in both Piho and Albrecht. McDonald then put the game out of reach with an RBI single, taking the score to 9-6. For the second straight weekend, Lembke-Windler (4 IP, 0 ER) took a close game to the 7th, and again his vast repertoire of off-speed pitches prevailed. Lembke-Windler mowed down WIT to pick up his second win of the fall in as many decisions.
Winning streak ends at 4
The Engineers played their last game of the tournament Sunday morning, taking on Suffolk University. With Jason E. Szuminski ’00 on the hill, MIT knew it would be a low scoring affair. Szuminski’s exploding fastball and hard-breaking deuce sent Suffolk hitters quietly back to their dugout, until in the top of the third when Goetz misplayed a grounder deep in the hole at second, allowing a Suffolk baserunner to score. It didn’t take long for the Engineers to answer, as Klein singled in Jason A. Poff ’02, who had led off with a walk and advanced to third on a throwing error. The game stood tied at 1 until the top of the 6th, when Suffolk reached Szuminski for three more, taking a 4-1 lead. MIT was out of comebacks on this day, though, as the Suffolk right-hander consistently painted the corners to throw a complete game three hitter. In a game that took just 1 hour and 40 minutes, Szuminski pitched well (6 IP, 3 ER) but took the loss to fall to 1-1.
The Engineers will finish up their fall schedule this weekend with three games. On Friday at 3 p.m., MIT (5-2) takes on the heavy hitters of Massassoit Community College at home, and on Sunday at noon the Engineers will travel to Bentley College to face off against the Division II squad in a doubleheader.