HARWICH, Mass. – In its second game at the NCAA Division III Baseball New England Regional, fifth-seeded MIT picked up a pair of home runs that helped propel the Engineers to a 6-2 win over No. 1 seed Eastern Connecticut State University that eliminated the Warriors from the regional. It was the first-ever victory for MIT in the NCAA Tournament and advances the Engineers to a 1:00 p.m. game tomorrow against the loser of the Tufts/Southern Maine game that will take place this evening.
Eastern Connecticut State (32-9), ranked No. 11 in the latest NCBWA/d3baseball.com poll, struck first in the second when Nik Ververis led off with a single, stole second and third, and came home on hit by Kyle Hart. MIT (25-14) matched that score in the third when freshman John Drago (Peoria, Ariz.) hit a one-out, solo home.
Other than Drago's home run, Eastern Connecticut State starter Patrick O'Neill cruised thru the first five innings, allowing just the one run and four hits. The Warriors staked O'Neill to another one-run lead in the fourth when a pair of one-out singles put runners on the corners for Hart, who drove in his second run of the day with a sac fly to make it 2-1.
Junior K.J Parent (Knoxville, Tenn.) led off the sixth inning for MIT with a walk that started a four-run rally by the Engineers that proved to be decisive. After moving up to second on a groundout, Parent scored the tying run when sophomore Nate Rodman (Corvallis, Ore.) doubled into the gap in left center. Junior Parker Tew (Chapel Hill, N.C.) then followed with the second Engineer home run of the day, a shot to left that gave MIT its first lead of the day at 4-2. With two down junior Karl Sorensen (Blacksburg, Va.) doubled and then scored the final run of the inning on an RBI single by senior Jon Rea (Palo Alto, Calif.).
That proved to be all the run support that sophomore Nicholas Locascio (Naples, Fla.) would need as he went all the way on the mound for MIT, scattering nine hits and striking out six against just one walk as he improved to 5-2 on the season. O'Neill was tagged with his first loss of the season after giving up five runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings.
MIT tacked on an insurance run in the seventh when junior Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.) doubled and then came around to score on a fielding error by the Warriors first baseman.
Drago led an 11-hit MIT attack with a 4-for-5 day at the plate, with Rodman adding a pair of hits for the Engineers. Ververis and Andrew Scully had a pair of hits to lead Eastern Connecticut State.