MIT Eliminates Babson Then Falls to Wheaton at NEWMAC Tournament

Senior James McKinney
Senior James McKinney

NORTON, Mass. – On the second weekend of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament, No. 2 seed MIT saw senior Max Ockner (Chesterfield, Mo.) hurl a complete-game, one-hit shutout against No. 3 seed Babson College as the Engineers scored a 5-0 victory to advance to the championship against No. 1 seed Wheaton College. In that contest the Lyons claimed the NEWMAC title, scoring a 6-3 win over the Engineers and claiming the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Ockner was in control all the way in the opener against Babson, setting the side down in order seen times while issuing just one walk while striking out eight as he improved to 5-2 on the season. Sophomore Sean MacPhee (Framingham, Mass.) collected the only hit for Babson (22-18), breaking up the potential no-hitter in the fifth with a leadoff infield single to short.

MIT (23-11) scored all of its runs in the third inning, getting five hits in the frame and taking advantage of a costly Beaver error. Sophomore Karl Sorensen (Blacksburg, Va.) led off the frame with a double just inside the left field line, moving to third when a sacrifice attempt by junior Jon Rae (Palo Alto, Calif.) was misplayed for an error. Junior Creed Mangrum (Sandy, Utah) then laced an RBI double that was followed by a walk to load the bases. Sophomores Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Parker Tew (Chapel Hill, N.C.) and freshman Nate Rodman (Corvallis, Ore.) all added RBI singles while sophomore K.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn.) lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to finish off the scoring.

Junior Matt Grenier (Rochester, N.H.) suffered the loss for Babson, going just two innings and allowing five hits, five runs (one earned) and two walks. Junior Derek Richards (Framingham, Mass.) turned in a solid relief appearance not allowing a run over six innings. Richards scattered five hits, issued three free passes and fanned two batters.

Against No. 14 Wheaton (30-10), MIT needed a win to force a second game against the Lyons on Sunday. Wheaton struck first when it scored twice in the third inning and then it held off the Engineers the rest of the way to claim the 6-3 win and the championship. The Lyons received a strong pitching performance from their starter, senior Frank Holbrook (Middletown, R.I.) who scattered ten hits over six-and-one-thirds innings pitched, yielding two runs and a walk with one strikeout to bump his record to 8-1 on the season.

For MIT senior Aric Dama (Winfield, Ill.) also pitched well, but took the loss after going 7.1 innings and giving up six runs (four earned) on five hits while striking out one and walking three. In the bottom of the third Wheaton got to Dama when senior Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H.) gave the Lyons a 2-0 lead with a run-producing double to right-center field after sophomore Tyler Contillo (Montville, Conn.) scored on a throwing error earlier in the frame. In the sixth the Lyons upped their lead to 3-0 when an MIT error allowed a run to score.

MIT made it a one-run game in the seventh with a pair of runs. Sorensen and Rae led off the inning with singles before senior James McKinney (Wakefield, R.I.) lined an RBI double to left-center to produce the first run of the game for the Engineers. Cornwell then lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to make it a 3-2 ball game.

A three-run eighth for Wheaton gave the Lyons a four-run cushion going into the final inning. Sophomore Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I.) doubled down the left field line to score the first run, with senior Paul O'Neill (Framingham, Mass.) drawing a bases loaded walk and sophomore pinch hitter Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn.) knocking an RBI single through the left side of the infield for the 6-2 lead.

MIT threatened in the ninth when sophomore Phil Reiser (Alpharetta, Ga.) led off the inning with a walk before Rae was hit by a pitch to put the first two aboard. With one away McKinney, who was 4-for-4 in the game, dropped a single into right center to make it 6-3. Wheaton's closer, junior Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass.) escaped further trouble when he recorded a strikeout and a groundout to end the game.

MIT still has one game left on the regular season schedule, with the Engineers hosting Suffolk University on Monday at Briggs Field at 4:00 p.m. The Engineers will receive word on a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the field is announced on May 12.