NEW LONDON, Conn. – Mitchell College fought its way to a pair of wins on Sunday at the 2011 New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Championship, forcing a final game to determine the tournament championship that will he held later in the week. The Mariners defeated Daniel Webster College 16-8 in the first game to advance to the title round, and then handed Southern Vermont College its first loss of the double-elimination tournament by a 9-7 final in the nightcap.
Mitchell (22-9-1 overall) and Southern Vermont (18-21 overall) will play one final game to determine which will be crowned champion and earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Championship. The time and date of the contest will be announced on Monday afternoon.
Mitchell carried the hot bats into the second game and struck for four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Apostolo got things going with a two-run homer to left field, and Felix Colarte followed with a solo shot to right-center. The homer was the 12th for Apostolo on the season and the third in the tournament. Colarte's home run was his fifth of the year.
Apostolo also got the starting nod on the hill for the second game. Southern Vermont scored a run off him in the second inning—the first allowed by Apostolo in the tournament—on a solo homer by Dan Cook, his third of the season.
The Mountaineers tied the game with three runs in the fourth. Pat Warrington and Corey Armstrong started the frame with base hits, and Cook plated his second run of the day with a single. Andrew Morin later tied the game with a two-run double into the right-center gap that made it 4-4.
Mitchell snatched the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run double by Apostolo that scored Santiago and Angel Chacon. The Mariners then turned the 6-4 lead over to Blair to start the fifth, and he carried the team to final out on the mound.
Mitchell added single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to go up 9-4. Collado homered and had a RBI single during the stretch while Perillo plated a run with his only hit of the contest.
Southern Vermont almost came through with some ninth-inning magic for the second straight day. After beating Daniel Webster on a walk-off home run on Saturday, SVC rallied to plate three runs against the Mariners and brought the tying run to the plate. Armstrong hit a two-run double to bring the score to 9-7, but Blair struck out the next batter to secure the win.
Blair, who gave up five runs in 3.0 innings to SVC in the tournament opener, redeemed himself with a strong relief stint. He allowed only one hit over the first four frames he threw and gave up three runs on three hits in 5.0 innings. He also tied a season high with eight strikeouts.
Collado went 4-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBI to lead the Mariners. Warrington, Armstrong and Cook each finished with a pair of hits for the Mountaineers.