CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After spotting visiting WPI a two-run lead in the first inning, MIT came back with four in the bottom of the first and never trailed again as it took the opening game of a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference baseball series by a final of 11-7. Sophomore Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.) and senior Ricardo Perez (Vienna, Va.) and three RBI apiece to lead MIT, while senior Shane Sampson (Worcester, Mass.) also drove in three for WPI.
It did not take WPI (9-16, 4-8 NEWMAC) long to score in the first as its second batter, freshman Anthony Capuano (Stoneham, Mass.), hit one off the top of the fence in left for a quick 1-0 lead. Freshman Alex Venditti (Newton, Mass.) followed with a single and later moved to second when a pickoff attempt got away. Sampson then beat out an infield single and moved to second when the throw to first was wild, allowing Venditti to score.
MIT (12-3, 8-1 NEWMAC) wasted no time in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game, getting the first two hitters aboard on a double and a walk. With one down Cornwell slapped one to center to score both runners and tie the game. Perez then followed with a shot over the fence in left to make it 4-2. MIT extended the lead in the second when Cornwell plated senior James McKinney (Wakefield, R.I.), who had stroked a two-out double, with a double of his own to make it 5-2.
A passed ball and a wild pitch led to a WPI run in the fourth, but MIT answered when junior Creed Mangrum (Sandy, Utah) hit one over the fence in right to make it 6-3. MIT starter, senior Max Ockner (Chesterfield, Mo.), ran into trouble in the fifth when WPI loaded the bases with one out on a single, an error and a walk. Freshman D.J. Ouellette (Watertown, Conn.) singled in one run, leaving the bases loaded for Sampson who was hit by a pitch to bring in another and make it a one-run ball game. Ockner escaped the jam, however, getting the next hitter to ground to third where junior Patrick Dayton (Archer City, Texas) stepped on the bag and threw home to nail the runner at the plate for the third out of the inning.
After picking up a run in the sixth on an RBI single from McKinney, MIT came up with a big two-out rally in the seventh to give it the runs it would need to win the game. Consecutive singles from Dayton, freshman Kendall Helbert (St. Louis, Mo.), junior Jon Rea (Palo Alto, Calif.) and sophomore Parker Tew (Chapel Hill, N.C.) brought in two runs. With Rea at third and Tew at first, the pair then pulled off a double steal to make it 10-5.
MIT made it 11-5 in the eighth after a sac fly by Perez before WPI rallied for a pair in the ninth. With one away Capuano walked and Venditti doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Senior Henry Zhu (Overland Park, Kan.), who had come in from the bullpen to pitch the ninth, struck out the next hitter, but then surrendered a two-run single to Sampson. Zhu then struck out the final hitter to close out the game.
Cornwell went 4-for-5 at the plate to lead MIT, including a pair of doubles. Tew went 3-for-5, with four other hitters colleting a pair of hits apiece. Sampson finished with a 3-for-4 day for WPI, with Ouellette going 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
Ockner picked up the win for MIT, improving to 3-1 after going five innings and scattering seven hits while striking out six. He gave up five runs, two of which were earned. Sophomore Andrew Portera (Alpharetta, Ga.) started for WPI and took the loss, giving up seven runs on 11 hits over five innings.
MIT and WPI will finish the series tomorrow with a doubleheader at Rochdale Park in Leicester, Massachusetts starting at Noon.