HOLYOKE, Mass. – The Lesley University baseball team punched their first-ever ticket to the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship this evening, splitting a pair of games with conference rival Elms College at Makenzie Stadium in Holyoke, Mass. The Lynx took care of business right away, claiming a 3-2 win in game one of the doubleheader to gain admittance into the postseason for the first time in program history. Elms claimed victory in the nightcap with a 6-2 decision over the Lynx.
Lesley moves to 10-12 on the season and continues to add to their program-best conference win total, improving to 9-6 in the NECC. Elms moves to 9-16 after the split, 5-8 in the conference.
Game One: Lesley 3, Elms 2
In the top of the second inning, Elms pushed across its first run of the game when senior designated hitter Sam Farnsworth (Westfield, Mass.) reached on a dropped fly ball, stole second base, moved to third on an infield hit by freshman first baseman Jordan Zima (Berlin, Conn.) and then scored on a sacrifice fly to right by senior right fielder Alex King (Lebanon, Conn.).
Lesley answered with three runs in the bottom of the second frame when Kevin Hopwood (Winter Haven, Fla.) singled, advanced to second on a walk to Mike Slaby (Foxboro, Mass.) and then scored on a double to left field by David Hersey (Wolfeboro, N.H.) to tie the game at 1-1. An RBI groundout by Joe Muratore (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) gave the Lynx a 2-1 lead before Hersey scored on passed ball to give Lesley a 3-1 edge.
The Blazers got a run back in the top of the third when junior center fielder Brady Forrest (Hampden, Mass.) belted a leadoff double to right field, moved to third on a groundout and then scored on a groundout by senior catcher Zach Dreher (Naugatuck, Conn.) to set the score at 3-2. Farnsworth then connected for a single before being forced out at home following a double to right center field by junior third baseman Geoff Frost (Ludlow, Mass.) to get Lesley starter Ryan Genua (Prospect, Conn.) out of the jam with a one-run lead.
Following the third frame, neither team scored as Genua held on for the win to improve to 3-2 on the season. He struck out two and allowed seven hits in 7.0 innings of work on the hill. Hersey finished 3 for 3 with an RBI at the plate.
Elms' senior pitcher Curtis LeBeau (Auburn, Mass.) suffered the loss to move to 1-3 on the season. He struck out two batters and scattered six hits.
Forrest was 2 for 4 with a run scored while Farnsworth was 2 for 3 with a run scored in the losing effort.
Game Two: Elms 6, Lesley 2
After two scoreless innings to start game two, Elms broke the deadlock when Dreher drove in Forrest who led off the inning with a single to give the Blazers a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Elms added to its lead when Frost drew a leadoff walk advanced to second on a single through the left side by Zima and then to third on a base hit up the middle by freshman left fielder Tim Gelzinis (North Dighton, Mass.) to load the bases with one out. An RBI single up the middle by sophomore second baseman Aedin Wadja (Lebanon, Conn.) gave the Blazers a 2-0 lead before Lesley starter Ray Cohen (Coventry, Conn.) fanned the next batter to give the Lynx two outs in the stanza. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Medeiros (Taunton, Mass.) then drove in a run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. A fly out to center ended the frame with Elms ahead, 3-0.
Elms' sophomore starting pitcher Andrew Sadowski (Northampton, Mass.) held Lesley scoreless through the first 5.1 innings tossing six strikeouts and allowing just one hit. The Lynx responded in the bottom of the sixth frame when Adam Ciampi (Westford, Mass.) notched a single to right field, advanced to second on a free pass issued to Casey Blanchard (Bernardston, Mass.) and then scored on an RBI double to center field to make it 3-1. Hopwood then delivered a sacrifice fly to pull Lesley to within one at 3-2 before Sadowski dealt a strikeout to preserve the one run edge.
In the top of the seventh, the Blazers loaded the bases on a walk to Medeiros and singles by Farnsworth and Frost. Zima and King then connected for a pair of RBI base hits to give Elms a 5-2 lead. Gelzinis then notched Elms' fifth straight single to extend the advantage to 6-2.
Blazers' sophomore reliever Kyle Bartlett (Huntington, Mass.) entered in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a walk but got out of the inning unscathed to help seal the four-run victory.
Farnsworth, Zima and Gelzinis collected two hits each in the winning effort, while Sadowski picked up the win to improve to 2-3 on the season.
Tyler Plourd (Canton, Conn.) was 2 for 3 in the loss, while Cohen suffered the loss to move to 2-2 on the season.
The Lynx will return home on Saturday as they host Mitchell College for a doubleheader at 1:00p before the teams travel to New London, Conn. for the series finale on Sunday.