Worcester, MA --- Behind a career-best 12 strikeouts – including the 200th of his career - from ace Andrew LeBlanc (Farmington, CT), Clark University held on for a thrilling 8-7 win over New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) rival WPI on Saturday evening at Granger Field.
With the win, the Cougars take the final two games of the three-game series with the Engineers to improve to 11-22 on the season and 4-14 in league play. WPI, meanwhile, sees its ledger go to 13-23 but they finish one game ahead of Clark in the league standings at 5-13.
LeBlanc was dazzling to begin the contest, striking out six of the first nine batters he faced, including all three in the bottom of the third.
The Clark offense meanwhile put together a three-run third highlighted by a Brian Sullivan (Auburn, MA) two-run single. The Cougars tacked on an unearned run in the fourth, making the score 4-0.
WPI didn't collect its first hit until the top of the fifth when leadoff batter D.J. Ouellette (Watertown, CT) tripled to deep right center. He later scored on a Matt Blakeman (Bedford, NH) sacrifice fly.
The Engineers closed the gap in the sixth in interesting fashion. With runners on first and third and one out, LeBlanc recorded his milestone strikeout, but when the ball was taken out of play, the umpire called a balk and a run scored, cutting the Clark lead to 4-2.
The Cougars got that run back in the top of the seventh when Dennis Glynn (Jamaica Plain, MA) blasted his first career homerun off of WPI starter David Trujillo (Sutton, MA).
WPI closed the gap again in the bottom of the frame however, when Blakeman tripled with one out and came around to score on a Shane Sampson (Worcester, MA) groundout.
Clark added two more runs in the eighth on sacrifice flies by Mitch DeLorenzo (Berlin, CT) and Zachary Richall (Tyngsboro, MA) off of reliever Sean Greene (Hingham, MA).
After LeBlanc retired the leadoff batter in the eighth, John McGonagle (Medford, MA) drew a walk and then moved to second on a Vinny D'Ambrosio (Mahopac, NY) single. The biggest blow came moments later when Sean Kelly (Shrewsbury, MA) sent a ball into the triangle out in centerfield and raced around the bases for an inside-the-park homerun that made the score, 7-6.
The Cougars got a much needed insurance run in the top of the ninth when leadoff hitter Nicholas O'Brien (Potomac, MD) smacked a single and then scored on Sullivan's double to left center.
WPI mounted a rally in the ninth when they put their first to runners of the inning on base. With one out, a Vincent Tavernelli (Plymouth, MA) single scored one run and had runners on the corners with one out.
David Balme (Brooklyn, NY), who came in and got the final two outs of the eighth, was able to catch pinch runner Steve Petry (Worcester, MA) leaning the wrong way and his quick throw to first was there in plenty of time to pick him off for the inning's second out.
Balme then got pinch hitter John Caliri (Hanson, MA) swinging to end the game and give him his second save in as many days.
LeBlanc went 7.1 innings, allowing six hit and six earned runs, striking out 12 and walking just two.
The Clark offense was led by Sullivan who went 3-for-5 with three RBI and Glynn who was 2-for-4.
Tavernelli was the only Engineer with multiple hits, going 2-for-4, while Kelly had three RBI.
WPI will wrap up their season on Wednesday when they face Worcester-area rival Nichols in a game to be played at Assumption.
Release Courtesy Clark Sports Information