Cambridge, MA --- Top-seeded MIT used an eight-run seventh inning to rally from a 3-0 deficit and then held off a furious WPI rally to defeat the second-seeded Engineers 9-8 in the ECAC Division III New England Baseball Championship game.
MIT moves to 23-14 on the season and claimed their first ECAC championship since 2013. WPI, which had won the ECAC title in 2007 and 2009, completes its season with a 27-13 record, the second most victories in the 113 year history of Crimson and Gray baseball.
Trailing 3-1 at the seventh inning stretch, the hosts used eight hits to seize control of the contest played in blustery conditions. Max Lancaster (Attleboro, MA) leveled the score at 3-3 with a two-run single down the left field line. MIT took the lead on a wild pitch and went ahead 6-3 when Jared Schwait (Boca Raton, FL) belted a run-producing double and came home on a subsequent throwing error. The home-standing Engineers pushed their bulge to 9-3 on a passed ball and a Nate Rodman (Corvallis, OR) two-run single through the left side.
WPI would not go away quietly. The guests tallied two runs in both the eighth and ninth inning, featuring a Vinny D'Ambrosio (Mahopac, NY) run-producing single in the eighth, but MIT catcher Kendall Helbert (St. Louis, MO) threw out the potential game-tying run at second base attempting to advance on a what would have been a wild pitch to end the game.
WPI opened the scoring in the first when Nick Comei (Haverhill, MA) reached on error and Alex Venditti (Newton, MA) doubled off the wall in center setting the stage for a John Mulready (Rockland, MA) two-run single to right center. Worcester's Engineers tacked on a run in the second when John Caliri (Hanson, MA), who had led off the frame with a single, came around to score on a wild pitch.
MIT was held hitless over the opening five innings by WPI's Mike Vaitkunas (Auburn, MA). The Cardinal and Gray spoiled the shutout in the bottom of the sixth when Helbert led off with a triple to right center and was knocked in by an infield single from John Drago (Peoria, AZ).
Vaitkunas (6-3) was saddled with the loss. The All-NEWMAC selection recorded four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work. CJ Doskocil (Sterling, MA) tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Zeke Long (Albuquerque, NM), the fourth of seven MIT pitchers, picked up the win. The right hander (3-2) tossed three scoreless innings to earn the victory. Centerfielder Garrett Greenwood (Edmond, OK) came on with the tying run on first and was credited with his second save of the season when Helbert gunned down the runner at second place to end the game.
MIT pitcher David Hesslink (San Diego, CA) was selected the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. The junior right hander went the distance on the hill in Saturday's 7-1 semifinal victory over Mass Maritime.
Click HERE if the video does not appear below