BENNINGTON, Vt. – A suspenseful Sunday afternoon at Bill Epstein Field saw the Southern Vermont College baseball team score twice in the eighth before getting Mitchell College to strand the tying run at third in the ninth to close out a 5-4 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) triumph.
The early portion of the contest saw a pitchers' duel as MC registered the only two hits during the first three and a half innings of play. After the scoring began, a solo homer in the sixth put SVC back on top at 3-2. The hosts' lead didn't last for long with the Mariners notching the tying run in the top of the seventh.
Southern Vermont scratched across two runs in the eighth for another advantage—sending the tilt to the final frame with a 5-3 tally. Mitchell threatened to do some damage in the ninth and was able to score once on an RBI-single to right with no outs. MC put runners at second and third, but neither of the first two fly outs were deep enough for the lead runner to tag. A third ball in the air would get corralled for the Mountaineers to celebrate their victory.
Before the first pitch, SVC recognized and honored its four graduating team members in Dylan Angelo (Amsterdam, N.Y.), Joshua Hay (South Glens Falls, N.Y.), R.J. Henle (Plantation, Fla.), and Anthony Mercuri (Ridge, N.Y.).
Southern Vermont (8-26, 6-10 NECC)—which snapped an 11-game losing streak—is back in action on Tuesday as the Mountaineers conclude the season with a 1:30 p.m. NECC doubleheader at home against Daniel Webster College. Mitchell is set to host DWC for a Monday twin bill as the Mariners will wrap up the regular season with a 12 p.m. first pitch.
SVC sophomore Zack Stacey (Saratoga, N.Y.) moved out of the leadoff spot for the first time in his career—going 2-4 in the three-hole while being the designated hitter for the first time as a Mountaineer; he batted in a pair of runs and scored two others from that spot in the lineup.
Sophomore catcher Dan Mason (Bloomingdale, N.J.) was 2-4 for Southern Vermont with two RBI's and a run scored, and freshman center fielder Nate Hickey (Bristol, Conn.) turned in a 1-4 showing at the dish with a pair of runs scored.
Mitchell junior right fielder Jack Finnegan (Old Saybrook, Conn.) went 2-3 with a pair of runs batted in for the visitors, and sophomore third baseman Peter Abate (Wallingford, Conn.) was 2-3 with a run scored. Junior shortstop Garet Griffin (Moosup, Conn.) and sophomore catcher Markus Melendez (Storrs, Conn.) were both 1-3 with a walk and a run scored in the effort.
Hay went a strong seven innings with the start on his Senior Day—giving up just three runs (two earned) while striking out three Mariner batters. Angelo came on in relief to maintain the tie in the eighth before finishing off the win (3-4) in the ninth after SVC went in front.
MC junior lefty Bryton Ferris (Manchester, Conn.) struck out three while giving up five runs in 7.1 innings of the loss (5-2).
A Melendez walk resulted in the only batter to reach base safely through the first two innings before the Southern Vermont middle infield turned double plays in the top of the third and the fourth. The Mountaineers then struck with a pair in the home half of the fourth for the upper hand.
Hickey got the first SVC hit of the day with a double down the line in left, and he moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Stacey then blooped one right over the mound for an infield single and the RBI. With two outs, freshman third baseman Noah DuBois (Barrington, N.H.) sent a run-scoring single out to center for Stacey to score and make it a 2-0 ballgame.
The Mountaineers wouldn't stay ahead for long, however, as MC came right back to tie it in the fifth. With runners at first and second and no outs, a sacrifice bunt attempt ended with an errant throw to first which allowed Griffin to score. Finnegan then tallied a sac fly to center for Melendez to come home from third and tie it at 2-2.
Mason muscled up for a solo homer in the top of the sixth—his fourth career dinger giving his team the edge. Finnegan had a response in the top of the seventh when he turned an Abate double into a run on an RBI-single to right-center.
Angelo came on in the eighth and worked out of a jam after MC put runners at the corners with no outs. He would sprint to cover the plate on a wild pitch and apply the tag, and Mason then gunned down a Mariner trying to swipe third for his second runner caught stealing of the frame.
That allowed the Mountaineers the chance to go back in front in the home half of the eighth. With Hickey at first and one out, Stacey ripped a double down the line in left; the speedy Hickey came all the way around to score and put his team on top 4-3. Mason would soon-after drill an RBI-base hit through the right side for Stacey to score and make it a two-run difference.
SVC was not out of the woods yet, however, as Mitchell fought to tie it up in the ninth. Abate led-off with a single to center, and his pinch runner would move up to second on a passed ball. Finnegan then connected for a hit out to right—a base knock that was misplayed and resulted in the Mariner runner scoring from second.
MC put runners at second and third with no outs to increase the suspense. One fly out to left was followed by another the same way—neither of which was deep enough for the Mitchell coach to try and send the tying run home. Angelo then induced a game-ending fly out to right for the Mountaineers to seal the victory and celebrate their win on Senior Day.
– #LetsGoSVC –