No. 7 Wheaton Denies MIT In NEWMAC Championship Final
April 31, 2006
Wheaton Sports Information
Norton, Mass. - The MIT Engineers, which entered last week's NEWMAC Baseball Tournament as the No. 4 seed, fell just short in a tremendous run toward the program's first-ever league crown. After defeating Springfield and WPI in back-to-back elimination games, MIT lost to No. 1 seed and Tournament host Wheaton College, 7-1, in the NEWMAC Championship.
The top-seeded Lyons won their seventh conference title in eight years with Sunday's win at Sidell Stadium. Wheaton, which is ranked seventh in the country and first in New England by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), won its NCAA Division III-leading 24th straight game by improving to 31-6 and finished the month of April 21-0. With the loss, MIT drops to 18-12.
The game began with a stellar defensive play, as Wheaton junior leftfielder Travis Anthoine laid out in left center to rob MIT junior leadoff hitter Jason Witzberger of extra bases. However, Engineer sophomore Kevin Wheeler came through with a two-out RBI double into shallow centerfield later in the inning to make it 1-0. MIT turned in a fielding gem of its own in the second, as senior shortstop Greg Williams dove up the middle to start an inning-ending double play.
The Lyons evened the score during the third inning, as senior Rafael Castillo walked and came around following a hit and two errors. Castillo put the hosts on top for good the following inning, lining an RBI double down the left field line to bring home sophomore Jake Yagjian, who walked with two down.
Wheaton broke it open with four runs on two hits and two errors in the fifth, as sophomore Scott Guillerault smacked an RBI single up the middle, senior Mark Baumer drove a two-run triple into the right field corner, and junior Adam Laplante brought Baumer home on a suicide squeeze. Castillo again doubled leading off the eighth and scored Wheaton's final run on senior Andy Koocher's two-out base knock.
In addition to Anthoine's catch, Wheaton's defense came up big early on, spinning inning-ending twin killings in the second, fourth and fifth frames. Sophomore righty Louie Bernardini stifled MIT's bats as the game wore on, holding the final 11 batters hitless and yielding only two singles over the final five-plus innings. Bernardini allowed seven hits and one earned run during a complete game, striking out six and walking two. During the tournament, Wheaton's starting pitchers completed 26.2 of a possible 27 innings. Castillo went 2-for-3, scoring twice with a pair of doubles. Baumer and Koocher each added a pair of hits.
For MIT, Wheeler and freshman Thomas Phillips each went 2-for-4, while Witzberger held the Lyon bats at bay for much of his first pitching outing of the season. The southpaw yielded four earned runs on four hits in four-plus innings, walking five and striking out three.