NORTON, MA- For the 11th time in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference's (NEWMAC) 13-year history, the Wheaton College baseball team captured the league tournament championship, as the top-seeded Lyons edged third seed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by a score of 4-3 on Saturday afternoon at Sidell Stadium.
Defeating the Engineers for the second time in the tourney after winning 4-3 in the second round, Wheaton, which is ranked 16th nationally and second in New England, will return to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time since 2000. Now 27-8, the Lyons will represent the NEWMAC at Whitehouse Field in Harwich beginning on Wednesday, May 18. MIT, which eliminated second seed Babson College earlier today, fell to 21-12.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Wheaton senior Hadi Raad (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY/Hastings) was named NEWMAC Most Outstanding Player, as the right fielder batted .636 and slugged 1.182 in three games, going 7-for-11 with four runs, three RBI and four doubles. Raad was 2-for-4 with a run and a double today. Seven other Lyons recorded one hit each, with senior Tad Skelley (Wolfeboro, NH/Holderness School), juniors Dan Haugh (Andover, MA/Saint John's Prep) and Hal Landers (Salem, NH/Salem), and sophomore Eric Jensen (Gorham, NH/Gorham) each driving in a run. Landers also drew two walks.
Junior David Longley (Brunswick, ME/Brunswick) picked up the win in relief of junior starter Nolan Corr (Somersworth, NH/Saint Thomas Aquinas), who threw six shutout innings with two strikeouts and a pair of walks. Longley allowed two runs on two hits, senior Kevin Calabro (Andover, MA/Andover) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, while freshman Ryan Grant (Easton, MA/Avon Old Farms School) earned his eighth save of the season, giving up his first run of the season. Grant entered today with 16 straight shutout frames.
Senior Dan Hyatt (Wallingford, CT/Loomis Chaffee School) went 3-for-5 with two runs to lead MIT, while junior A.J. Hansborough (Deltona, FL/Deltona) was 3-for-5 with an RBI. Junior starter Chris Vaughn (Fort Worth, TX/Arlington) gave up two earned runs on five hits with one walk in 5.1 innings, and sophomore Max Ockner (Chesterfield, MO/Parkway Central) was saddled with the loss in relief. He yielded two earned runs on three hits with one strikeout and a walk in 1.1 innings.
Both teams squandered scoring opportunities in the early going, combining to strand nine runners through the first two frames, as each left the bases jammed in the second. After a 1-2-3 fourth, Corr ran into trouble in the fifth, as MIT loaded the bags with two outs, but he then forced a fly ball into center to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Vaughan retired eight batters in a row before giving up a leadoff double to Raad in the bottom of the fifth. Raad moved to third on a Landers sacrifice before scoring on Jensen's successful suicide squeeze two batters later, as Jensen placed his bunt to the right of the mound. The Engineers answered in the sixth, putting two runners on with one down, but Corr induced his second 5-4-3 inning-ending double play to keep MIT at bay.
Wheaton pushed its second run across in the bottom half of the sixth, using a single, a hit batsman and a walk to jam the bags before Landers' RBI single made the score 2-0. MIT knotted the game with two runs in the seventh, scoring on a passed ball and groundout after loading the bases with one out. The Lyons got those two runs back in the home half, with Jensen's leadoff double and Haugh's 51st RBI of the season combining for the first run. Four batters later, Skelley singled home Haugh for a 4-2 Wheaton edge.
In the ninth, Grant got his first two batters to ground out before surrendering up back-to-back hits, including a run-scoring double by Hansborough. With the tying run at second, Grant got his final batter to ground out to first, as freshman first baseman Mike Bisceglia (New Boston, NH/Goffstown) beat out the MIT runner to the bag to record the game's final out.