Northboro, MA --- Sophomore Austin Lindner (W. Windsor, NJ) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth to deliver WPI's 6-5 walkoff win versus visiting Fitchburg State in a non-conference baseball contest Thursday at the New England Baseball Complex.
With the triumph, the Engineers up their record to 13-5, including a 7-1 ledger at the NEBC, through the first month of the season. The Falcons, who suffered their second 6-5 decision in as many days, dips to 6-11 on the year.
After the guests plated three in the top of the sixth, the game remained 5-5 until the bottom of the ninth. Sophomore Steven Gallagher (Coventry, RI) and junior Matt Howard (Worcester, MA) drew back-to-back walks. Graduate student Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, MA) advanced both courtesy of a sacrifice bunt. Freshman David Larson (Port Tobacco, MD) was issued an intentional free pass to load the bases. With two outs, Lindner was laced with a 3-0 pitch, which allowed Gallagher to plate the game-ending run.
The Falcons picked up an unearned run when junior Nathan Littman (Abington, MA) scored on a two-out single to left by senior Mike St. John (Rehoboth, MA). The play also saw the combination of junior Evan Lacroix (Methuen, MA), Gallagher and Howard cut down a runner at the plate to deny another run from scoring. It also ended the inning. Fitchburg State made it 2-0 with a two-out hit by sophomore Brendan Cuddahy (Leominster, MA) in the fifth.
WPI got on the board with a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior Connor Kurtz (Lunenburg, MA) to begin a five-run home half of the fifth. A miscue on the play allowed him to reach setting up an RBI double by sophomore Ryan Tropeano (Pembroke, MA). Two batters later, Gallagher doubled in Tropeano and Howard followed with a 2-RBI knock to center.
The first two Falcon runs in the sixth were on back-to-back misplayed sacrifice bunts off the bats of freshmen Cooper Bigelow (Leominster, MA) and Timothy Horton (Northampton, MA). Later in the frame, Bigelow scored on a double play by senior Nick Comei (Haverhill, MA), Howard and Kurtz to even the game at 5-5.
Tropeano (double, walk, stolen base, RBI, run) and Howard (2 RBI) batted 2-for-4 while Comei (run) and Lacroix each went 2-for-5. Gallagher walked three times to go with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Lindner also doubled and Capuano stole a base. The Engineers, which had planned to use a new wing every inning, sent 10 to the mound including sophomore Dominic Fusco (North Haven, CT) who collected his first career win in his third career appearance. He faced the minimum as did junior Drew Gelinas (Saco, ME), senior CJ Doskocil (Sterling, MA), freshman Nick Colucci (Lynnfield, MA) and sophomore Robert Chase (Grand Isle, VT). Sophomore Sam Bacchiocchi (Freetown, MA) struck out three of the six hitters he faced. Also joining the party were senior Sean Fallon (Westwood, MA) and freshmen Kyle Wood (Hauppauge, NY), James Werosta (Hamilton, NJ) and Nick Tagaris (New City, NY).
St. John (2-for-3, RBI, run) was the only Falcon with a pair of hits. Littman and rookie Brandon Lefebvre (Leominster, MA) each walked three times and combined for three runs. Sophomore Andrew Mooney (Framingham, MA) also drew a pair of free passes. Cuddahy, Lefebvre and Horton teamed for a pair of double plays. Local lefty Kyle Nocera (Mendon, MA) yielded five runs – three earned – on eight hits and three walks, and struck out three over four-plus innings. Freshman Austin Alzate (Narragansett, RI) allowed two hits and struck out one in three frames. Sophomore Noah Milliard (Leominster, MA) was tagged with the decision and senior Donnell Hightower (Dorchester, MA) faced the final two batters.
WPI is slated to open April with a noon NEWMAC divisional crossover doubleheader Saturday at Babson. The Falcons are slated to host their FSU foes, Framingham State, at the same time.
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