Northboro, MA --- Second baseman Vinny D'Ambrosio (Mahopac, NY) hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to send host WPI to a 3-2 win over NEWMAC foe Coast Guard in the first game a three-game, home-and-home series on Friday afternoon at the New England Baseball Complex.
The senior D'Ambrosio went 3 for 5 with a stolen base, accounting for nearly half of the Engineers' seven hits, as he also single in the first and third inning.
Junior right-hander Mike Vaitkunas (Auburn, MA) went eight innings for his third straight start. Vaitkunas, who never trailed, scatted six hits and struck out five, allowing lone runs to Coast Guard in the fifth and eighth innings.
WPI improved to 19-8 overall and 7-3 in NEWMAC play with the victory, while the Bears fell to 11-15 and 3-5 in conference. The two squads will meet again on Saturday for a doubleheader down in New London, CT, beginning at noon.
The Engineers took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, as senior captain Alex Venditti (Newton, MA) walked to start the inning and classmate Sean Greene (Hingham, MA) sent a sacrifice fly to center field with one out, allowing Venditti to tag up and score from third to make it 1-0.
Coast Guard tied it up at 1-1 in the next half inning under similar circumstances as Kyle Jackson (Lincoln, RI) led off with a two-bagger to right field before Mark Behne (Clifton, VA) brought him in with one out on a sacrifice fly.
The hosts got that run back in the bottom of the sixth thanks to another leadoff double, this time from John Mulready (Rockland, MA). Pinch runner Matt Breidenbach (East Rockaway, NY) came in to score on a double play ball by Greene to make it 2-1 in favor of the Engineers.
The Bears again rallied back, leveling the score at 2-2 in the eighth inning thanks to singles by Cory Sonnega (Shoreline, WA) and Will Stephens (Raleigh, NC). The latter sent a grounder up the middle with two outs to bring Sonnega home.
With the prospect of extra innings ahead, Drew Gelinas (Saco, ME) came on in relief of Vaitkunas to toss a hitless top of the ninth. Gelinas, who allowed one walk in the inning, reached back and struck out Sonnega with two outs and a runner in scoring position to keep it a tie game.
The lineup rewarded him with the victory by coming through in the bottom half of the inning. Coast Guard plunked DJ Ouellette (Watertown, MA) to start the frame, with Quintin Barker (Monroe, CT) coming on to pinch run. The Bears loaded up the bases before D'Ambrosio saw a green light on a 1-0 count, grounding it through the middle to send the Engineers off celebrating.
WPI third baseman Steven Gallagher (Coventry, RI) went 2 for 4, including a double in the seventh inning, while center fielder Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, MA) singled and drew a walk. No Coast Guard player had more than one hit.
The Bears' Colton Cannon (Kennesaw, GA) tossed the first six innings, allowing two earned runs, while Dan Finn (Middletown, MD) pitched the final 2-1/3 innings before D'Ambrosio's walk-off.
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