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Baseball Ends Season On Three Game Slump

Team Finishes Fifth Place In NEWMAC

By Alvin Eric P. Loreto

TEAM MEMBER

The 2000 season of the MIT baseball team bears an uncanny resemblance to the month of April in Boston: cold, dreary, slippery, and now ... over.

The T’s dropped their final three games to finish in fifth place in the NEWMAC, then suffered a disappointing loss in the first round of the conference tournament. The season-ending four-game losing streak, in addition to two other games rained out, served as a bitter ending to the season and the careers of Tech seniors. The entire Tech squad seemed to lose a bit of its focus and aggressiveness in the latter stages of the season, finishing with an overall record of 10-18, including a dismal 4-9 mark in NEWMAC play.

Coming off a big 17-5 conference victory over Clark University, the fifth-place Engineers played host to third-place Babson College on Thursday April 20. Ace pitcher Jason E. Szuminski ’00 was given the nod to start for the pivotal game, and he provided another stellar complete game effort. However, the Engineer offense could not provide any timely hitting, resulting in yet another frustrating loss for their star pitcher. Despite mustering only five hits and one earned run off Szuminski, Babson eked out a 2-1 victory behind solid defense and a great pitching effort of their own from freshman right-hander Joseph Forte.

An RBI double in the 4th by sophomore left fielder Patrick Cutter gave the Beavers their first run, and Szuminski’s wild pitch with a man on third in the 6th brought home the other. The wild pitch was the only mistake of the day for Szuminski, who also struck out 7 and walked only 1 to lower his ERA to a league-leading 2.29.

The MIT offense, which had exploded for 20 hits just two days earlier, made little noise except an RBI single in the 7th by Ethan T. Goetz ’00 that scored catcher John J. Kogel ’03. MIT threatened again in the eighth, but Forte got first baseman Matthew R. Berger ’01 on a groundout to end the inning, stranding runners at first and second base. The win evened Babson’s NEWMAC record at 5-5 and dropped MIT to 4-6 in the conference.

Tech drops two to Coast Guard

Wet weather canceled the Engineers’ April 21 non-conference home game against Endicott College and pushed their Saturday April 22 conference road doubleheader with Coast Guard to Monday April 24. The layoff seemed to hurt the T’s, as they came out flat and unfocused in getting swept by the last-place Bears, 6-3 and 12-5.

In Game 1 MIT could not figure out Coast Guard junior pitcher Jorge Trevino, whose slower-than-normal delivery to the plate kept the Engineers off balance the entire game. Trevino, aided by a 3-run 2nd inning from his teammates, held MIT to 7 hits while striking out 7 to spur the Bears to the victory.

The T’s once again suffered from sparse individual contributions on offense. Kogel had two hits and an RBI, and centerfielder Alvan Eric P. Loreto ’01 had 1 hit, 2 runs scored, and 2 stolen bases to raise his team-leading total to 14 (3rd in the NEWMAC) before reinjuring his hamstring in the 5th inning. Third baseman Christopher J. Albrecht ’00 and first baseman Jeffrey J. Billing ’01 each added a triple and an RBI. However, Tech again could not find the timely hit late in the game, leaving runners stranded on base in each of the last three innings.

The Engineers fared not better in Game 2 as they were victimized by a 6-run 5th from the Bears, capped by a 3-run home run to dead center from third baseman Trevor Hamel. Tech pitcher Albrecht showed guts in going the distance for the complete game, but his arm just did not have the punch to hold the Coast Guard bats down. On offense, McKenney led the way with a triple and 2 RBI, and third baseman Brian S. Nykiel-Furgala ’02 had a hit and 2 runs scored.

Tech drops first round of tourney

By dropping their last three conference games, MIT slipped to the fifth seed in the NEWMAC tournament, setting up a single-elimination first-round contest with fourth-seeded Springfield College. MIT split a road doubleheader with Springfield earlier in the year, and Thursday April 27 marked the second time this year they would have to take the hour-and-a-half trek down Interstate 90 to face the Pride. Once again MIT turned to its ace Szuminski to carry them, while Springfield, whose aces had pitched 3 and 4 days earlier, countered with little-used right-hander Mike Ehrlich.

The results were all too familiar for Tech: solid effort by Szuminski, not enough support from his offense. The Engineers scored runs in the 2nd and 3rd, the latter coming on a solo home run by David M. Piho ’00 that tied him with Joel Morales Jr. ’99 for the MIT career home run record.

However, Springfield countered with one in the 2nd before exploding for 7 in the 4th, only 2 of which were earned runs. Costly errors by Szuminski, Piho, and Ahren M. Lembke-Windler ’00 mixed in with run-scoring doubles by Springfield sluggers Jason Conway and Austin Kimball put the Pride too far ahead to catch.

Springfield added three more in the 7th before MIT came back with one more in the 8th, leaving the final score at 11-3, Ehrlich’s first win of the year. The loss dampened strong performances by each of the Tech seniors in their final game. In addition to Piho’s home run, Szuminski struck out eight, including the final batter of his collegiate career, but was not his usual self in giving up 6 bases on balls. Goetz had a double, one run scored, and made several dazzling plays to cut down sure Springfield hits. Albrecht contributed a double and an RBI, and Kevin B. McKenney ’00 and Ryan S. Balter G each pitched in solid hits. Lembke-Windler, in his first game back at first base since injuring his elbow at the outset of the season, went 2 for 3 on the day.

Despite adequate talent and decent depth, the 2000 MIT baseball squad found itself underachieving often, hampered in no small part by the unseasonably cool April temperatures. The T’s look forward to coming back strong next year, but they will sorely miss the services of this year’s graduating class, each of which contributed heavily to the team’s successes this season. However, the door is not closed on the 2000 campaign just yet, as a handful of Tech players eagerly await the announcement of postseason accolades from the conference and the NCAA. Related stories: