Northboro, MA – Second-seeded WPI struck for seven runs in the opening two innings, highlighted by an Alex Venditti (Newton, MA) grand slam, as the Engineers defeated sixth-seeded Elms 10-2 in an ECAC New England Division III semifinal Friday afternoon at the New England Baseball Complex.
WPI (27-13) advances to Sunday's championship game at noon at MIT where they will face the winner of Saturday's other semifinal between top-seeded MIT and fourth-seeded Mass Maritime. Elms sees its best season in program history come to an end with an impressive 32-13 mark.
WPI tallied three runs in the bottom of the first without the benefit of a hit. After the first three batters walked, John Mulready (Rockland, MA) knocked in the opening run when he reached on a throwing error. The Engineers then netted runs on outs to the following two batters as Steven Gallagher (Coventry, RI) hit a RBI fielder's choice and Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, MA) delivered a sacrifice fly.
An inning later the Blazers got the first out before the hosts loaded the bases on Vinny D'Ambrosio (Mahopac, NY) infield single sandwiched around a pair of hit batters. Alex Venditti (Newton, MA) quickly cleared the bases when he launched a grand slam high off the left field foul pole for his 16th homer of the season that gave the Crimson and Gray a 7-0 advantage.
Meanwhile WPI starter Steven D'Agostino (Shrewsbury, MA) worked himself out of trouble when he induced ground ball double plays to end both the first and second innings and struck out the side a frame later after the Blazers had the first two batters reach base.
The Engineers added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth when Venditti came home on a DJ Ouellete (Watertown, CT) sacrifice fly. Elms dented the scoring column for single runs in the fifth and sixth. A R.J. Lyrenmann (Glendale, AZ) RBI double plated Nolan Medeiros (Taunton, MA) with the Blazers first run and then Dan Brunetti (Enfield, CT) brought home Aedin Wadja (Lebanon, CT) with a sacrifice an inning later to cut the WPI edge to 8-2.
The hosts answered back with two runs on three straight two outs singles in the bottom of the sixth highlighted by a two-run single off the bat of Even Lacroix (Methuen, MA) that scored Ouellete and John Caliri (Hanson, MA).
D'Agostino went the first seven innings to up his record to 7-1 on the season. The lefty yielded seven hits and two earned runs while punching out six. Mike Duclos (Greenfield, MA) worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Sean Fallon (Westwood, MA) tossed a perfect ninth.
Andrew Sadowski (Northampton, MA) shouldered the loss on the mound for the visitors. The righty collected two strikeouts while slipping to 7-4 on the season. Medeiros retired the side in the eighth.
D'Ambrosio, Venditti and Lacroix all had two hits for WPI with D'Ambrosio reaching base in four of five plate appearance and Venditti scoring three times.