NEW LONDON, Conn. – Fourth-seeded Lesley University held on for a 5-4 upset over top-seeded Mitchell College to open the 2017 New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Championship on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field.
The Lynx received a strong pitching performance from Tom Muratore (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) and made the most of one big offensive inning to post their first-ever win in the tournament. Muratore improved to 7-3 on the year and allowed four runs (three earned) over 7.0 innings and struck out five.
J.P. Agiorgousis (Hanscom AFB, Mass.) went 3-for-4 with an RBI to pace the Lesley offense while Vincent Taliercio (Valley Stream, N.Y.) and Steven DePalma (Albertson, N.Y.) each had a pair of hits. Mike Slaby (Foxborough, Mass.) also provided a big RBI double in the eighth inning to plate what proved to be the winning run.
Mitchell scratched across a run in the bottom of the first for an early lead. Tristan Hurley (Mystic, Conn.) drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a successful hit-and-run with Francis Prettitore (Bayville, N.Y.). Tyler Pina (Plainville, Conn.) followed with a sharply hit ball to second base and hustled down the line to beat out the double-play attempt, allowing Hurley to score with the game's first run.
In the second, Lesley put runners on the corners with no outs but came away scoreless. Mitchell starter Axel De Jesus (Stratford, Conn.) pitched his way out of trouble, getting the first out with line drive to left field that was too shallow to score the runner from third. He then got a strikeout and fly ball to right to escape the jam with the one-run lead intact.
The Lynx sent eight batters to the plate in the third and scored four runs to take the lead. Taliercio and DePalma got things started with back-to-back singles with one out, and Ryan Pumphret (Shrewsbury, Mass.) tied the game with a double into the left-center gap. A slow roller by Matthew Warner (San Diego, Calif.) brought in the go-ahead run, and Agiorgousis and Jacob Cervantes (Oxnard, Calif.) added to the margin with a double and single, respectively, to drive in runs.
Mitchell went to the bullpen in the fourth to get out of another jam. Lesley's leadoff man reached on an error and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Jakari Pellegrini (New Britain, Conn.) took the ball for the Mariners and ended the threat with a strikeout and pop up to keep the deficit at 4-1.
The Mariners scored twice in the fifth to climb back into the game. Steven Gonzalez (Union City, N.J.) knocked in the first run with a double to right-center and later scored the second on a two-bagger by Kyle Hartenstein (Meriden, Conn.).
Mitchell left runners in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh innings as Muratore worked out of jams to keep the Lynx in front. Lesley tacked on a crucial insurance run in the top of the eighth on a two-out RBI double by Slaby. A pair of defensive gems by Mitchell third baseman Peter Abate (Wallingford, Conn.) limited the damage, as he made diving stops to both his left and right to take away hits in the frame.
Muratore came out for the home half of the eighth but threw only one pitch that Garet Griffin (Moosup, Conn.) slammed over the left field fence. With their lead cut in half, the Lynx turned to Nick Iadevaio (Mineola, N.Y.) out of the bullpen, and he recorded three quick outs to secure the lead.
Iadevaio retired the side in order in the ninth to nail down the victory, picking up his second save of the season. He didn't allow a hit in 2.0 innings of work.
De Jesus (5-5 overall) gave up four runs on six hits over 3.1 innings. Pellegrini yielded one run on five hits in 5.2 innings of relief.
The double-elimination tournament continues with three games on Sunday, May 7. Mitchell (27-12 overall) will play an elimination game against third-seeded Becker College at 9:30 a.m. Lesley (19-17-1 overall) will face second-seeded Elms College in Sunday's second game, which is scheduled to begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first.
- Game Story Provided by David Longolucco, Mitchell College Sports Information Director