Seniors Star as Baseball Locks Up NEWMAC Tournament Spot

Sean Minor

Holden, MA --- After being celebrated in a pre-game ceremony, the WPI baseball team's graduating seniors played a huge role in securing a spot in next week's NEWMAC Tournament, helping the Engineers to a 7-2 victory over visiting MIT on Friday afternoon. WPI is now 21-13 and 9-7 in the NEWMAC standings while MIT drops to 16-14 overall with a 6-10 conference mark.

Senior pitcher Sean Minor (Sherman Oaks, CA) (7-2) enjoyed another gem for the Crimson and Gray, allowing only two runs and five hits in nine innings. The win was the right hander's 20th in his standout career. 

The host Crimson and Gray wasted little time taking the lead, as John Flynn (Albion, ME) hit an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Matt Blakeman (Bedford, NH) as WPI took a 1-0 lead. In an identical situation in the bottom of the third, Flynn again flied out to left with Blakeman scoring from third, giving the home team a 2-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the fifth, WPI busted the game open. After Nick Bean (Middleboro, MA) hit an RBI single through the left side to score Kyle Bartosik (Midland Park, NJ), a fielder's choice by Flynn on the very next at bat combined with an MIT error allowed Blakeman to score from second. Two batters later with runners at second and third, Mitch McClune (Pembroke, MA) launched a ball over the right field fence, and the Crimson and Gray were suddenly up 7-0. 

WPI had the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth with one out, but MIT's Brandon Lowe (Brier, WA) wouldn't break in relief, striking out the next batter and closing the door with a ground out to end the inning. The visitors got on the board in the top of the seventh when Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, CA) went yard, cutting the lead to 7-1. Bryan Macomber (Los Altos, CA) added an RBI double to right center in the top of the ninth to score Creed Mangrum (Sandy, UT), but that was as close as the visitors would come.

All six RBIs by the hosts were by seniors, with McClune tallying three while Flynn had two and Bean added one. Bean finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run. Steve Petry (Worcester, MA) went 3-for-3 with a triple. Blakeman went 2-for-4 with two doubles and three runs. Tim Erlandson (Hudson, MA) went 2-for-4.

Four MIT players recorded hits, including Macomber, Mangrum, Sean Karson (Winter Park, FL) and Ricardo Perez (Vienna, VA). Torre Swanson (Redding, CA) (3-1) took the loss for Cambridge's Engineers, striking out four in five innings and giving up three earned runs. Lowe and Tim Wilson (Nacogdoches, TX) provided three combined innings of shutout relief pitching.

Prior to the game, Minor, Flynn, Bean, McClune, Bartosik, Greg Mannke (Weymouth, MA), Eric Johnson (Rutland, MA) and Brandon Boucher (Manchester, NH) were honored by teammates, coaches and fans.

The two squads will lock horns again on Saturday wrapping up their three-game series in Cambridge.  First pitch for the doubleheader has been shifted to 11am.  

WPI is tied for third in the conference with Springfield, a game-behind second place Babson.  The three teams, along with conference regular season champion Wheaton, will begin the conference tournament a week from Saturday.  WPI can finish between the second and fourth seed.  Springfield, who rallied for a 6-4 win at Babson on Friday, hosts the Beavers Saturday in a doubleheader.

Story by Mike Rupp