BROCKTON, Mass. – On the final day of the Little East Conference regular season, baseball gave their nine senior members a gift to remember as the Beacons picked-up their first conference sweep with an 11-1 (8 inns.) and 5-4 victories over Rhode Island College Friday afternoon at Campanelli Stadium.
With Saturday's sweep the Beacons (17-20, 7-7 Little East) have locked-up the fourth seed in this year's conference tournament, which will be held at Eastern Connecticut State University starting on Wednesday, May 9. The Warriors swept the University of Southern Maine in Gorham to earn a share of the regular season title, and the right to host next week's conference championship. Despite the sweep the Anchormen (12-21, 5-9 Little East) managed to sneak into the conference tournament, and will be the sixth seed.
UMass Dartmouth and Plymouth State University will be the third and fifth seeds respectively in the tournament. The Little East Conference will announce official start times as well as the finalized bracket later this weekend.
The Beacons huge day was fueled by perhaps two of their most impressive all-around performances of the 2014 season. In game one UMass Boston pounded out 21 hits to earn the first mercy rule victory of the year with the 11-1 decision. In game-two the Beacons trailed for only a half of an inning, but with an RBI Charlie LaPaglia (Marshfield, Mass.) and a save by Daniel Heefner (Tracy, Calif.) the Beacons earned the huge one-run win over RIC.
Kyle Szatrowski (Agawam, Mass.) and Lucas Ilges (Gloucester, Mass.) each walked away with wins on Friday, with Szatrowski picking-up his fourth and Ilges his third. The duo combined for eight strikeouts respectively and went a total of 13 complete innings.
At the plate, Chris Adams (Whitman, Mass.) crushed the baseball in the doubleheader sweep finishing 6-for-9 with three RBI, two runs scored, and three doubles. Freshman Daniel Mantoni (Northbridge, Mass.) also had a huge game one for the Beacons as he went 3-for-4 with three RBI a run scored and was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle as he picked-up a double and a triple.
GAME ONE – UMass Boston 11, Rhode Island College 1 (8 innings)
In the opener the Beacons combined for seven runs through the first three innings to take a commanding lead in a must-win game. RIC's lone run, a solo home run by Justin Rainville was earned in the top of the fourth. The Beacons would then tack on two runs in the bottom half of the inning, before scoring another run in the seventh and the game-winning run in the eighth on a RBI single to left by Ezold, which plated Charlie LaPaglia.
While the offense was firing on all cylinders, Szatrowski was dominant through the first seven innings allowing the only Anchormen run on five hits. The Agawam native struck out five and did not surrender a walk. Matt Dziok (Southampton, Mass.) closed out the eighth as he retired all three batters in order.
For the Anchormen, the game one loss went to C.J. Tsoumakas as he surrendered nine runs, all earned, on 14 hits in four innings. Rainville produced two of RIC's five hits in the game-one loss.
Between the two games the Beacons honored their nine senior members, seven of which are on the pitching staff. This year's seniors consisted of Ilges, Dziok, Heefner Jamill Moquete (Boston, Mass.), Jose Pena (Boston, Mass.), Will Barrack (Lancaster, Va.), Gabe May (Portsmouth, N.H.), Tom Cole (Mattapoisett, Mass.), and Ryan Augustine (Burlington, Conn.).
GAME TWO – UMass Boston 5, Rhode Island College 4
In the nightcap the Beacons had to grind out the huge win with key hits in the later innings. The first inning saw RIC strike first with a run in the top of the inning, but the Beacons did not let that lead last long as they tacked on two in the bottom half.
After two and a half scoreless innings, UMass extended their lead to 3-1 on a RBI double by Anthony Gomes-Sirianni (San Francisco, Calif.), which plated Bryan Failla (Torrington, Conn.). Neither team would record a run in the fifth, but in the sixth the Anchormen tied the game at 3-3 as they scored on an RBI double by Tyler Santaniello and on an infield error with two outs on the scoreboard.
Just like the first inning the Beacons did not waste anytime retaking control of the contest, as Ezold, who entered the contest as a pinch hitter, crushed a double down the right field line to make it 4-3 in favor of UMB.
In the seventh the Beacons extended their lead to two as LaPaglia was credited with an RBI hit by pitch with the bases loaded. The Beacons would keep the bases loaded in the inning, but RIC was able to get out of the jam to keep the deficit at two. The Anchormen cut the lead back to one in the top of the eighth on a passed ball with only one out on the board. Following the unearned run, Josh Cummiskey (Lowell, Mass.), who entered the game in the seventh settled down and got out of the inning with runners on first and third on a line out to Mantoni at third base.
In the bottom half of the eighth the Beacons would threaten as Moquete crushed his 11th career triple to center field. Unfortunately, the Anchormen were able to get out of the inning again on a foul out to the third baseman.
As the game moved into the top of the 9th, head coach Brendan Eygabroat, went to Heefner to close out the victory. Heefner, who leads the program in most career appearances and saves got the first batter he faced to pop up to Mantoni. He then struck out the second batter looking. The Anchormen then got a break on a throwing error by the shortstop to put a runner at first base. That runner then moved over to third following a single up the middle by Dean Beshansky. With runners at the corners, Heefner managed to focus back in, and ended the contest on a pop out to Mantoni. The save marked the eighth of Heefner's four-year career.
Brad Van Fechtmann was handed his fifth loss of the year after allowing the go-ahead run in 2 1/3 innings. Kyle Morvan went the first 5 2/3 and struck out six, while allowing four runs on nine hits.
Baseball will officially close out the 2014 regular season on Sunday when they travel to Amherst College for a 12 and 3 p.m. non-conference doubleheader. The Jeffs will be the fourth regionally-ranked team the Beacons have faced this week, as they look to extend their now three-game win streak.