The Engineers baseball team made it to the conference finals but lost, as they did last year in this game, to Wheaton college. Starting last Thursday, MIT shut out Springfield 3-0 in the quarterfinals, out-hit Coast Guard 15-12 in the semifinals, but fell in the title game 6-1.
Turner pitches gem in quarterfinal
MIT took its first step towards the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship game with a 3-0 victory against Springfield College on Thursday afternoon at Briggs Field. Jay M. Turner ’08 fired his second complete-game shutout of the season to out-duel sophomore Jimmy Lisowski, who endured the loss despite a great start for the Pride.
Both of Thursday’s starters were dominant from the first pitch. Turner scattered three singles through the first seven innings, while Lisowski was unscathed his first time through the Engineers’ lineup.
MIT (12-11) secured the game-winning run in the bottom of the fourth behind the excellent base-running of senior Jason T. Witzberger ’07. Steven M. Nunez ’09, who finished three-for-four on the day, opened the frame with a single up the middle. After Witzberger reached on a fielder’s choice, the all-time MIT record holder in stolen bases swiped both second and third during the ensuing at-bat.
Not wasting the golden opportunity, Thomas M. Phillips ’09 lined a single through the box to bring Witzberger across the plate.
Springfield (9-20) nearly tied the game in the eighth, but Christopher M. D’Annunzio ’09 served up the defensive play of the season in right field to erase the threat. Pinch hitter Ryan Tatreau sparked the Pride with a single through the left side to start the inning and pinch runner Kyle Pearce advanced to second following a sac bunt. With two outs, senior Chris Stack smoked a single to right field.
As the potential tying run rounded third and headed for the plate, D’Annunzio fired a strike from the middle of the outfield. The play at home was incredibly close, but when catcher Paul Groudas ’08, who was blocking the plate, turned to show the umpire the ball, Pearce was called out to signal the final out of the frame.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Engineers attempted to put the game out of reach by adding a pair of runs with two outs. Nunez started the two-out magic with a single to right field, while Witzberger followed with a single to left. Phillips then plated his second run of the tilt after another single to left scored Nunez. Witzberger added his second run of the contest off a double by David M. Nole ’09. Looking for a fifth straight hit, Kevin R. Wheeler ’08 flied out deep to center to end the inning.
Turner (5-2) threw his fourth complete game in six starts, while lowering his ERA to a career-best 2.77. Lisowski, who struck out eight batters, took the loss and falls to 3-5 on the year.
Engineers win semifinal shootout
Wheeler was three-for-four with a pair of home runs, five RBI’s and four runs scored as third-seeded MIT held off seventh-seeded Coast Guard, 15-12, in the NEWMAC semifinals. MIT appeared to be in control heading into the eighth inning with a 10-2 lead, before Coast Guard smoked five hits and took advantage of five errors in the top half of the frame to score seven runs and set the stage for a wild finish.
Coast Guard took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth without the benefit of a hit or an error as Chuck Arena and Brian Lisko walked, Arena took two bases and scored on wild pitch and Mike Mitchell later added a sacrifice fly.
MIT quickly answered as Stephen C. Toth ’09 highlighted a four-run fourth with a two-run home run to break a 2-2 tie, while Wheeler served up a two-run single which tied the game at 2-2.
The Engineers scored three times in both the sixth and seventh innings to stretch their lead to eight runs. Wheeler led off the sixth with a solo homer while Stewart J. Park ’10 added a two-run double. In the seventh, Toth had a two-run single to highlight the inning as the Engineers built the 10-2 lead.
In the eighth, Christian George had an RBI double, Lisko had a two-run triple, Adam Reckley had an RBI single and then George pulled the Bears to within one at 10-9 with an RBI single.
MIT responded with five runs in the home half as Nole had an RBI single, Benjamin T. Bersanti ’10 added an RBI triple and Park chipped in another RBI single. Wheeler delivered the big blow in the inning with his second home-run of the afternoon.
Coast Guard didn’t go quietly despite entering the final frame down 15-9. Lisko led off with a homer before Ken Franklin and Kevin Higgins drew walks off closer Nunez. Bret Nichols had a one-out RBI single and Reckley added a two-out RBI single, but the Bears left two runners on to end the game behind by three.
Wheaton Dominates Final
Unfortunately for the Engineers, the NEWMAC final game between MIT and Wheaton, held on Saturday in Wheaton’s Sidell Stadium, was not only a re-match of last year’s final game but a repeat of the result.
In both games, MIT only mananged one run against Wheaton’s Louie Bernardini, who pitched all but one inning between the two games; both times they allowed early runs by Wheaton that proved to be all the opposition needed.
Matthew D. Loper ’09 started for MIT on Saturday and kept with Bernardini in the first two innings, allowing only a lead-off walk in the second.
Things turned south for Loper in the third, when Wheaton scored two runs in the third inning on two hits, one walk, one error, and two sacrifice flies. Loper was done for the afternoon after the Lyons started the fourth with a home run and a hit batsman.
Tech had one of their few chances off Bernardini in the top of the fourth, starting the inning with singles by Nunez and Witzberger. The inning ended quickly as Phillips grounded into a fielder’s choice, Nole struck out, and Wheeler lined out to center.
Richard D. Kosoglow ’08 relieved Loper in the bottom of the fourth and got into and out of trouble. He got two outs quickly, forcing a ground out and a fly out, before allowing an RBI single by Karl Olsen that made the lead 4-0. Kosoglow then loaded the bases by hitting and walking consecutive batters, but got out of the jam by forcing Nick Pecora to ground out.
After a harmless inning and a half, the Lyons were at it again in the sixth, adding two runs to make their lead 6-0.
MIT had one last rally in the eight inning, loading the bases with two outs and one run already in, but Phillips grounded out to the shortstop to end the rally and make the score 6-1.
The Engineers’ season continues with a road game at Worcester State this afternoon and a home game this Thursday against UMass Boston at 3:30 p.m. The NCAA tournament begins on May 16.