BOSTON, Mass. – After a wild finish in game one, baseball cruised to an 8-1 victory in the nightcap, and coupled with a Southern Maine win over Eastern Connecticut State University, the Beacons hoisted their first-ever Little East Conference Regular Season title as they swept the Anchormen by the finals of 5-4 and 8-1 Friday afternoon at Monan Park.
GM1 – UMass Boston 5, Rhode Island College 4
GM2 – UMass Boston 8, Rhode Island College 1
UMass Boston (26-12, 10-4 Little East Conference)
Rhode Island College (13-22-2, 2-12 Little East Conference)
HOW IT HAPPENED
With the regular season title in hand UMass Boston will now serve as the host of the 2016 Little East Conference Tournament. The four-day tournament will start next Wednesday at Monan Park, with the winner earning the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The thought of having their own home field seemed like a distant dream that would never see the light of day. However that changed last June when the shovels broke ground on the new Monan Park. Fast forward eight months, no one could ever predicted the success the Beacons "Field of Dreams" would have brought. Ranked fifth in the region, and riding the longest win-streak in all of Division III, the Beacons achieved a historic moment as they earned the top-seed and their first regular season crown Friday afternoon.
Even at 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning, with bases load and two outs on the board, the Beacons would plate the game-winning run in the most unbelievable manner. Junior catcher Anthony Searles (Shelton, Conn.) would get hit by a pitch on his forearm. The umpires initially thought the ball had hit Searles bat, but after further review they saw the already developing bruise on Searles' forearm. After a little discussion between the home plate umpire and his partner, they awarded Searles first base, which walked in Sal Frosceno (Derby, Conn.), giving UMB the walk-off 5-4 victory.
Frosceno's game-winning run capped off a 3-for-4 game one showing for the sophomore outfielder. He accounted for three of the Beacons five runs, and also had a pair of stolen bases. On the hill Dan Mantoni (Northbridge, Mass.) had another strong outing as the junior righty went six complete, allowing just one run on two hits. He also struck out four and did not allow a walk, when he exited the game with the lead.
Unfortunately, the usually consistent Beacons bullpen could not maintain that lead for their junior starter, as the Anchormen tied the score on two separate occasions. Freshman lefty Manny Garcia (Boston, Mass.) collected the victory, after going the final 1.1 innings. He allowed just two hits, with three of the four RIC runs being charged to Fernando Burgos (Hyde Park, Mass.), who came out of the pen in the seventh. The freshman lasted just 1.2 and gave up two runs, with only one of the three runs he allowed marked as earned.
Sophomore Josh Lopez (New Haven, Conn.) tallied two hits in the win, and also laid down a sacrifice bunt, which moved Frosceno to second base in the bottom of the ninth inning.
UMass Boston wasted little time ending the scoreless draw in the bottom of the first inning as Ryan Olivo (Rochester, N.Y.) drove in the first run of the day on an RBI single down the right field line. The Beacons would then get their second run of the afternoon on a perfectly executed double steal, with Mantoni touching home plate to give himself an early cushion.
The Anchormen would cut the deficit in half (2-1) in the fourth inning as they scored on a wild pitch. In the fifth, the Beacons regained their slim two-run lead thanks to an RBI double by Mantoni, which hit off the Green Monster in deep left center field.
In the seventh, RIC nearly grabbed the lead for the first time in Friday's contest as they took advantage of some defensive miscues by the Beacons. Luckily the Beacons held RIC to just two runs to make it 3-3.
It did not take long for UMB to jump back out in front, thanks to an RBI single up the middle by Lopez, which plated Frosceno, who reached on a perfectly placed bunt down the first baseline.
RIC would tie the score at 4-4 just one half inning later as they got their fourth run of the contest on an RBI single by TJ Lynch. With the Anchormen threatening, the Beacons knew they had to get on the board quickly. In the bottom half of the eighth, UMass had a chance to blow the game wide open as they had bases loaded with only one out. Unfortunately, the Anchormen would get the back-to-back outs to retire the side and keep the score deadlocked at four runs each.
After a scoreless top of the ninth, Frosceno led off the bottom of the inning with a single to center field. Lopez then moved his teammate up 90 feet on the sacrifice bunt. From there Mantoni was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second. Nick Herzog (Riverhead, N.Y.) then walked to load the bases with two outs. That would then set-up the hit-by-pitch walk-off to clinch the game one victory.
In the nightcap, the Beacons got off to a slow start through the first three innings as they led by just two runs (2-0). They gained some serious distance over the middle three innings, as they outscored the Anchormen 6-0, to make it 8-0. That score would hold strong until the top of the ninth, when RIC got their lone run of the contest on a bases loaded walk.
In the ninth Bobby Tramondozzi (Peabody, Mass.) picked-up the first two outs, which then made way for senior Steve Consiglio (Southbury, Conn.) to close out the contest in his final regular season game as a Beacon. In the only batter the Connecticut native would face, he would get him to fly out to right field as the Beacons rushed the field to celebrate the huge victory.
Unlike game on the Beacons made serious contact in the nightcap, as they recorded three doubles, and a pair of home runs. Mantoni and Murphy, who have absolutely crushed the ball at Monan Park, each recorded a home run their fifth and sixth of the year respectively. Both player each recorded doubles as well, along with Herzog.
Freshman JT Morin (Wilton, Conn.) collected the win, his fourth of the year (4-0). Through seven innings, the lefty allowed just four hits and have five of the Beacons eight K's. He only walked one as well, and got out of a huge bases loaded jam in the fourth inning to keep the score 2-0 in favor of the Beacons.
BY THE NUMBERS
- The Beacons regular season title marks the first in the program's history. The Beacons did win the conference tournament title and NCAA Regional title in 2010, which were program firsts as well
- The Beacons are now tied for the longest win-streak in the country at 13 games alongside defending national champs SUNY Cortland
- Friday's doubleheader marked the final regular season twinbill for Consiglio and fellow senior Bryan Dupre (Chicopee, Mass.), who was the lone four-year member on this year's squad
The Beacons will serve as the host of the 2016 Little East Conference Tournament which is scheduled to begin next Wednesday in Boston. Official game times and tournament information will be released later this week.