NEW LONDON, Conn. – Top-seeded Mitchell College claimed the 2018 New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Championship on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field, erasing a three-run deficit to beat second-seeded Lesley University by a 7-4 final.
The Mariners (30-8 overall) trailed 3-0 after three innings but cut into the deficit with two runs in the fifth. Mitchell pulled ahead behind a five-run sixth inning, taking the lead for good on a two-run homer by Eric Marriott (Niagara Falls, Canada/A.N. Myer). Reliever Bryce Bedard (Ledyard, Conn./Norwich Tech) kept the Lynx off the scoreboard until the ninth, andRoland Thivierge (Portland, Conn./Portland) nailed down the final three outs to secure the win.
Mitchell has won six NECC titles, including four in the past five seasons under head coach Travis Beausoleil. The Mariners also earned the conference’s automatic NCAA berth for the fifth time since 2011. The NCAA will release the entire 58-team field on May 13.
Things got off to a bumpy start for the Mariner as Lesley jumped on top 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Will Rhone (North Haven, Conn.) led off the game with a single and later scored from second base on a base hit to right by Justin Clark (Chino Hills, Calif.). The Lynx nearly added to the lead on a deep fly ball by Vincent Taliercio (Valley Stream, N.Y.), but Santos made a catch at the fence in left field.
Lesley starter Brett Dabrowski (South Windsor, Conn.) worked his way out of a tough spot in the home half of the first. The Mariners loaded the bases with no outs but couldn’t push across a run, as Dabrowski got a double play and a comebacker to the mound to escape the jam.
Later in the frame, a defensive gem by Marriott took away potential runs and swung the momentum back to Mitchell. With two runners on, Taliercio drove a ball into the left-center gap that Marriott snagged with a sprawling dive. He then got up in time to relay to third, catching the runner trying to advance a base to end the inning.
The Mariners stranded a runner in scoring position in the fourth as Dabrowski erased a lead-off walk by retiring the next three batters. Mitchell finally broke through in the fifth as Santos doubled down the left-field line and scored on a two-out single by Kyle Hartenstein (Meriden, Conn./Maloney). Steven Pagan (Oceanside, Calif./Guajome Park Academy) later drew a bases-loaded walk to plate another run to cut the deficit back to one at 3-2.
A pair of home runs got Mitchell going in the sixth. Peter Abate (Wallingford, Conn./Sheehan) tied the game with a leadoff homer down the left-field line, his second of the season. Three batters later, Marriott blasted a two-run shot to give the Mariners their first lead of the day, just clearing the fence in right to make it 5-3. Griffin then tacked on an RBI double and Finnegan added an RBI single to pump the lead to four.
Bedard, who retired nine straight batters at one point, set the Lynx down in order in the eighth. He came out to start the ninth but gave up a solo homer to Taliercio. Thivierge came in to secure the final three outs and got a ground ball to second base to end the game.
Dabrowski allowed two runs on six hits over 4.2 innings. Tom Muratore (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) was tagged with the loss (9-2 overall) after surrendering two runs on two hits in 0.1 innings of work.
Lesley ended the season with a record of 27-11.
NECC All-Tournament Team Memebers
Coach Cather had this to say about the season, "I am so proud of this group and the way they performed all year. They deserved to be in the conference championship game and I think we showed that today. Our seniors set the foundation of this program and it was great to see our underclassmen take the lessons they’ve learned and step up in leadership roles today.Mitchell is an extremely talented group with a few of the best players in the entire country and we were able to give them all they could handle. We will be pulling for them in the regional and I know they will be a great representation of our conference."