Baseball Splits NECC-opening Doubleheader with 4-1 Loss, 5-4 Win Over Newbury

rob spatafore throws to first

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. – Southern Vermont College started New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) baseball action Sunday night with a doubleheader against Newbury College at the New England Baseball Complex, and the Mountaineers bounced back from an opening 4-1 loss to edge the Nighthawks 5-4 in the second game.

The series' rubber match is slated for 10 a.m. Monday morning back at the NEBC.

With the share, SVC moves to 3-11 on the year and 1-1 in Conference play.

GAME 1: Newbury 4 – Southern Vermont 1
Southern Vermont tacked up a quick lead with a lone run in the first inning of the opener, but Newbury would respond with two in the second for the upper hand. That tight margin lasted into the bottom of the sixth when the Nighthawks put up a pair of insurance runs, and they were able to keep SVC from clawing back into it in the seventh for the win.

Mountaineer sophomore center fielder Zack Stacey (Saratoga, N.Y.) went 1-3 with a stolen base and a run scored while senior designated hitter Anthony Mercuri (Ridge, N.Y.) was 2-3 with an RBI out of the cleanup spot. Junior shortstop John Arancio (Oradell, N.J.) turned in a 1-3 showing at the dish with a double, and freshman second baseman Noah DuBois (Barrington, N.H.) was also 1-3 with a stolen base.

SVC senior righty Dylan Angelo (Amsterdam, N.Y.) was strapped with the loss (1-2) after giving up four runs on five hits and a walk through six innings. He struck out five Nighthawk batters in the start.

Stacey started the evening with a single to center, and he quickly turned that into two bases as he swiped second during the next at-bat. A fielder's choice put runners at the corners, and Mercuri then singled through the left side to bring the lead Mountaineer in to score.

Angelo sat down the first three NC batters that he faced, but Newbury would get to him in the second with a pair of runs after starting the box with a double and ensuing triple. Both sides would strand runners over the next couple innings including a Nighthawk that was left at third in the fourth.

SVC couldn't move DuBois further than second in the top of the sixth, and Newbury then padded its cushion with two runs on three hits in the home half of the frame. The NC pitcher retired Southern Vermont in order in the top of the seventh to take the first of the three-game set.

GAME 2: Southern Vermont 5 – Newbury 4
Both teams scored once in the first inning of the nightcap before Mercuri tagged a three-run homer in the third to help the Mountaineers take a 5-1 lead. NC inched closer with a single run in the fourth, and the Nighthawks then cut it down to a one-run ballgame with a pair in the fifth. The Mountaineers got Newbury to strand a runner at second in the sixth before putting NC away 1-2-3 in the seventh for the split.

Stacey went 2-4 with a pair of runs scored and two more stolen bases, and Mercuri was 2-3 with four RBI's and a run scored. DuBois had a 1-2 performance in the box with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored, and sophomore first baseman Cody Sullivan (Brunswick, N.Y.) was 1-4 with a solo homer of his own.

SVC right-hander Joseph Braim (Schuylerville, N.Y.) picked up his first win of the year—improving to 1-1 with his third start on the bump; he struck out three while giving up four runs (three earned) in five innings of work. Freshman lefty Tyler Graham (Amsterdam, N.Y.) made a tremendous appearance in relief as he earned the six-out save—the first of his collegiate career—with the only runner he allowed to reach getting on base with a walk.

For the eighth time in Southern Vermont's last 10 games, Stacey led-off with a hit as he registered a double to start the backend of the twin bill; that also extended his hitting streak to 10 games, and it marked the 10th time in SVC's 14 games this year that he reached base safely in the first at-bat of the contest.

The speedy Mountaineer stole third with just one out—allowing Mercuri to muscle up for a fly ball deep enough to left that allowed Stacey to easily tag up and score the first run of the matchup. Newbury came back right away with a run of its own in the bottom of the first as an RBI double tied the game.

After a quiet second inning, Stacey pulled a leadoff single through the left side before DuBois got aboard with a base hit of his own. Mercuri then provided a big spark for SVC as he turned on one and jacked it over the fence in left for his second career home run. After NC got the second out, Sullivan extended the frame as he stepped into one and put it out of the park for his first dinger of the year—his third career homer making it a 5-1 affair.

Braim returned to the hill and put away the Nighthawk side in order, only to see Newbury do the same to his offense in the top of the fourth. NC got one back in the home half of the box when a leadoff walk came around to hurt; after the score, the Nighthawks had the bases loaded with no outs, but Braim worked out of the jam by getting a foul pop out before starting an inning-ending double play which was turned by Arancio at second.

NC got even closer in the fifth with back-to-back doubles scoring two runs to make it a 5-4 tally. Braim kept the tying run at second—getting the final two outs of the inning to keep his team on top. After SVC stranded a runner at second in the top of the sixth, Newbury used a leadoff walk to get a Nighthawk in scoring position on the back of a sacrifice bunt. The next batter ripped one down the third base line, but Southern Vermont junior Rob Spatafore (Mahopac, N.Y.) made an outstanding diving stop before getting the NC runner caught in a pickle.

SVC couldn't do anything with two outs and runners at first and second in the top of the seventh—sending Graham back out to the hill with the one-run lead. He made quick work of the Nighthawks as he induced a ground out to Spatafore and a fly out to right before getting the last batter to go down swinging.