Dudley, MA --- Sam Miraglia (West Babylon, NY) went 4-for-4 with two RBI and a double as visiting WPI concluded its regular season schedule by holding off a furious Nichols ninth-inning rally, winning 5-3 at the Nichols Baseball Field on Wednesday afternoon. WPI goes into the postseason with a 22-15 record while Nichols is now 8-20.
The Crimson and Gray would strike first in the top of the second inning. David Trujillo (Sutton, MA) singled to left and stole second. Two batters later, Miraglia singled Trujillo home as WPI went up 1-0. The Engineers tacked on another run in the top of the fourth when Tim Erlandson (Hudson, MA) singled home Mitch McClune (Pembroke, MA), who had earlier tripled.
The score remained 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, when pitcher John Flynn (Albion, ME) allowed the Bison to load the bases with no outs. However the senior proved up to the challenge, striking out the next two hitters and forcing a pop out to get out of the jam and preserve the two-run lead.
Miraglia drove home another run in the top of the sixth, doubling to left-center to score John McGonagle (Medford, MA) bringing the score to 3-0. In the top of the seventh, WPI's Alex Taubert (South Yarmouth, MA) slapped a bases-loaded single up the left side, driving in another run and putting the Engineers up 4-0.
In the bottom of the seventh, Nichols threatened again with men at the corners and just one out. But WPI shortstop Joey Botelho (East Providence, RI) and second baseman Zach Blanchard (Warwick, RI) turned a 6-4-3 double-play to preserve the shutout and end the inning. In the top of the eighth, Miraglia took advantage of a muffed pickoff throw to score an unearned run from third, giving the Crimson and Gray the 5-0 edge.
Nichols finally got on the board in the bottom of the ninth when Kyle Russell (W. Yarmouth, MA) walked with the bases loaded and no outs. On the very next batter, Anthony Benvenuti (North Haven, CT) reached on a fielder's choice RBI, and the Bison were within three. Paul DiMascio (Walpole, MA) followed up with a sacrifice fly to right field, and suddenly it was a two run game. Nichol's Dylan Courtney (Ware, MA) hit a well-hit ball to center field, but McGonagle was there for the catch and the Engineers escaped with the win.
Six WPI pitchers combined to give up just four hits in the first eight innings, with Trujillo (3-3), who tossed the first two frames, picking up the win as the Engineers invoked the NCAA designated pitcher of record rule prior to the contest. Brandon Boucher (Manchester, NH) had three strikeouts in two innings of work on the mound, while Trujillo and Flynn each had a pair of Ks.
Miraglia's four hits equaled his career-high, which occurred, ironically enough, during last season's regular season finale against Becker. Freshman catcher Jay Fulmer (Gloucester, MA) went 2-for-4 with a run, while throwing out two would-be base stealers in his first career start. Nine Engineers combined to total 13 hits on the day.
Chris Bruno (Darien, CT) (0-1) pitched seven innings for Nichols in his first start of the season, allowing four runs and 12 hits while racking up eight strikeouts. Evan Thompson (Longmeadow, MA) went 2-for-3 with a double and a run for the Bison, while Russell, Benvenuti and DiMascio were each credited with an RBI while Richie Burke (Newburyport, MA), John Micciche (Holbrook, MA) and Nick Fowler (Salem, MA) all had a hit.
The Engineers are back in action on Saturday when they travel to nationally-ranked Wheaton (No. 2 ABCA and No.6 D3baseball.com) for their NEWMAC Tournament opening game against the Lyons. The Bison travel to Clark on Friday for a non-conference tilt before venturing to Roger Williams the following day for an important CCC doubleheader.
Story by Mike Rupp - WPI Athletics