WORCESTER -- With the NEWMAC regular season title on the line, rival MIT twice took early leads on WPI and held on both times as Worcester's Engineers fell, 6-3 and then 11-2 in a five-inning nightcap on Saturday at Rooftop Field. It was only the second time WPI dropped a doubleheader this year, while they saw a 15-game NEWMAC win streak come to an end.
The sweep gives MIT (29-4-1, 17-1) its first-ever regular season title in the NEWMAC era and its first conference title of any kind since sharing the NEW-8 crown with Wheaton in 1992. MIT, ranked second in the initial NCAA Division III New England Regional rankings, will be the top seed in the NEWMAC Tournament, which will begin on Wednesday, May 2nd. WPI (26-10, 15-3), fourth in the debut regional rankings, will be the second seed in the tournament and will host opening round games that Wednesday and will face the winner of third-seeded Babson and sixth-seeded Emerson at 4:30pm.
Devon Goetz (Rockville, MD) led the visitors at the plate, combining to go 4 for 6 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored across both games. Zoe Hinton (Aurora, CO) took the Cambridge Engineers' offense to a new level in the second game by batting 3 for 3 with 4 RBI.
Ravenne Nasser (Methuen, MA) went the distance for the visitors in the first game, striking out eight en route to her 15th win of the season, while Colleen Campbell (Snoqualmie, WA) tossed an abbreviated complete game in the nightcap, fanning nine to improve to 9-1.
MIT broke open the game in the top of the second inning as catcher Michelle Wist (Cypress, TX) sent a two-run blast over the left field fence to give the Cambridge Engineers a 2-0 lead.
The visitors doubled their lead in the following innings with another two-run homer. This time, Jasmin Joseph (Woodland Hills, CA) singled ahead of Goetz, who powered a home run to center field to make it 4-0.
However, MIT plated two more runs in the fifth inning on a ground out by Amanda Lee (Saratoga, CA) that Joseph (2 for 3) scored on and then a sacrifice fly by Sarah Von Ahn (West Linn, OR) that brought Goetz (2 for 3) in from third to make it 6-1.
Worcester's Engineers wouldn't go quietly as they got both of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning as Marissa Gonzales (Oakley, CA) drove in Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) with and Wood brought around Nina Murphy-Cook (Roseville, CA), both on run-scoring singles to cut it to a 6-3 game.
Freshman Nicole Kuberka (Los Angeles, CA) came on for WPI in the third inning and tossed 4-2/3 relief innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run.
MIT again led the entire way in the nightcap after putting up five runs in the top of the first inning, starting with a two-run double down the left field line by Katherine Shade (Glencoe, IL).
Madi Pickett (Santa Barbara, CA) followed with a run-scoring single on the next at bat, and then with two outs Hinton drove in two more runs on a base hit to right to make it 5-0 early on.
MIT added another run on an RBI single by Von Ahn (2 for 4) in the top of the second, but WPI rallied back in the bottom half of the inning as Wood (2 for 2) doubled and then RiAnna May (Westminster, CO) came through on a full count, sending a two-run blast to cut it to 6-2.
It was tough for Crimson and Grey to gain any momentum, though, as Wist (3 for 3) led off the following inning with a single and then Hinton homered on the next at bat to push MIT's advantage back up to 8-2.
The Cambridge Engineers forced an early conclusion in the fifth inning as Goetz smacked a two-run double, and then Joseph later scored on a wild pitch to set the final score.
Biney and Caraline Wood (Averill Park, NY) led the WPI offensive attack with three hits each on the day. Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, MA) shouldered the loss in game one in the circle while Mackenzie Phillips (Gill, MA) was on the short end of the decision in the night cap. Nicole Kuberka (Los Angeles, CA) was solid in relief, particularly in the opener when she allowed just one earned run in 4 2/3 innings of work.
WPI closes out the regular season Wednesday (weather permitting) with a 4pm home doubleheader with Gordon. MIT returns to the diamond on Tuesday, hosting Salve Regina in 4pm twin bill.