Becker Clips Baseball 5-4 (8 inn.), 7-3 for NECC Doubleheader Sweep

luigi magliocca connects with the ball

BENNINGTON, Vt. – Southern Vermont College was on the close, losing-end of two New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) baseball contests at Bill Epstein Field Thursday afternoon as Becker College came back to win 5-4 in eight innings before grabbing the backend by a 7-3 tally.

The Hawks improve to 14-14 overall and 7-4 in league play as SVC (7-19 overall) falls to 5-4 against the NECC while dropping its first Conference series of the year.

Southern Vermont is back in NECC action on Saturday with a home doubleheader against Elms set to begin at 12 p.m. Becker next takes to the diamond at the same time for a Conference twin bill at home versus Newbury College.

GAME 1: Becker 5 – Southern Vermont 4 (8 inn.)
The visitors put up a lone run in the top of the first in game one—only to see the Mountaineers respond with three scores in the home half of the frame. Becker notched two in the fourth to tie it up before SVC got on the board with a solo run in the fifth for the edge.

Southern Vermont was one strike away from ending it in the seventh, but the Hawks were able to register a game-tying hit to extend the contest. Becker then touched home once again in the eighth while keeping the Mountaineers scoreless for the come-from-behind triumph.

SVC senior designated hitter Anthony Mercuri (Ridge, N.Y.) went 4-4 with an RBI and a run scored while sophomore catcher Dan Mason (Bloomingdale, N.J.) was 1-3 with a walk and a run batted in. Both sophomore center fielder Zack Stacey (Saratoga, N.Y.) and junior right fielder Niko D'Agnese (Mahopac, N.Y.) scored a run while junior shortstop John Arancio (Oradell, N.J.) and freshman second baseman Noah DuBois (Barrington, N.H.) each knocked in a score.

Nine Hawk batters tallied a hit in the game with three recording a pair. Senior designated hitter Niko Bedell (Manorville, N.Y.) was 2-4 with a home run, three RBI's and a run scored while both senior second baseman Vaibhav Desai (Waltham, Mass.) and junior shortstop Christopher Testa (Providence, R.I.) were 2-4 with a run batted in.

Mountaineer senior righty Dylan Angelo (Amsterdam, N.Y.) ended up suffering the loss (2-3) while going all eight innings and striking out five Hawk batters. Becker's third reliever, junior Christopher LaDou (Worcester, Mass.) collected his first win (1-0) of the season after tossing the final 1.2 innings and allowing just a single hit in the outing.

Becker started the game aggressively—swinging at will and putting the bat on the ball for three-straight singles as the third was a Testa knock through the left side that scored the opening run of the day. Angelo would get a double play for him to work out of the jam and allow his offense to provide him some support.

SVC loaded the pond with one out, and Mason worked the second walk of the box to tie the game. Arancio took a pitch to his left arm for the go-ahead run to score, and a DuBois grounder to short after a Becker pitching change allowed Mercuri to score and make it a 3-1 tally.

Both sides went down in order in the second before stranding a runner in the third. Bedell then tied the Becker all-time career home runs record in the fourth win a two-run shot sent the opposite way—clearing the right field fence to tie it up.

Southern Vermont got some action going with two down in the fifth as sophomore first baseman Cody Sullivan (Brunswick, N.Y.) singled through the left side to get aboard. He was pinch ran for, and freshman Mountaineer Nate Hickey (Bristol, Conn.) moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch; that allowed Mercuri to continue his stellar showing as he dropped a single into shallow right-center for SVC to go back in front.

Each team went down 1-2-3 in the sixth for the hosts to have the win in sight. A lead-off single would move up to second on a sacrifice bunt, and a pinch runner then took to the base paths for Becker. With two outs, Desai came through with a clutch single out to center for the Hawk to touch third and make his way home for the tying score.

SVC got a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh, but a pickoff would erase the Mountaineers and send the game to extras. A walk, a stolen base, and a throwing error by Southern Vermont put a Hawk at third with no outs, and Bedell then raked a single to left for the go-ahead run to come in. Mercuri tagged a one-out single in the home half of the eighth, but Becker turned a game-ending double play up the middle to take the first of the three-game set with Southern Vermont.

GAME 2: Becker 7 – Southern Vermont 3
The Hawks carried their momentum into the second game of the doubleheader by putting up two runs in the first and another three in the second. SVC came back to tack up three in the bottom of the third, and that two-run separation lasted into the fifth. Becker scored once in the fifth and then again in the sixth while keeping the hosts off the board the rest of the way to finish off the sweep.

Mercuri went 1-3 with a run batted in as Stacey notched the Mountaineers' other RBI with a sacrifice fly. Junior third baseman Rob Spatafore (Mahopac, N.Y.) and Hickey—who played right in game two—were both 1-2 with a run scored in the effort.

Becker junior Josiah Shepherd (Providence, R.I.) was 2-2 with two walks, the runs scored and two RBI's as Testa and sophomore left fielder Evan Barrera (West Warwick, R.I.) each went 2-4 with an RBI. Bedell was 1-3—knocking out another homer to place himself at the top of the team's all-time record list for round-trippers.

Hawk sophomore pitcher Tanyon Ventres (Latham, N.Y.) picked up the complete-game win (3-3) while striking out five and allowing no earned runs. SVC sophomore righty Joseph Braim (Schuylerville, N.Y.) took the loss (2-2) in 5.2 innings on the bump.

A fielder's choice scored Shepherd in the top of the first, and Barrera tallied an ensuing single up the middle for Desai to cross the plate for an early 2-0 lead. Becker got runners to second and third with one down in the second, and Shepherd then came through with a two-run single into left. Testa came to the plate with two outs, and he found a hole in the left side to bring Shepherd in and make it a 5-0 ballgame.

The visitors threatened again in the third with runners at second and third, but Braim got out of it with a fly out to left. Southern Vermont then got some support for its sophomore arm after junior left fielder Luigi Magliocca (Broadalbin, N.Y.) started the frame with a single up the middle before Spatafore followed with one of his own. Hickey laid down a bunt towards third, and Ventres sent the throw into left field for the first SVC run to score. Stacey tagged an ensuing sac fly to left-center, and Mercuri then batted a two-out single to right for Hickey to score and make it 5-3.

That margin still held in the fifth when Bedell smacked it to right for a solo homer almost identical to his first of the day; the senior's record-setting 18th career dinger pushed it to a three-run difference for the Hawks. They padded their cushion with another in the sixth as a sacrifice fly down the line in right brought Desai home.

Southern Vermont hit into a double play in the sixth before going down in order in the seventh as Becker wrapped up the series win and the day's sweep.