MIT Moves To NEWMAC Finals With 6-3 Win Over Springfield

Freshman John Drago
Freshman John Drago

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – In the deciding game of a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) 2014 Baseball Tournament semifinal series, No. 3 seed MIT scored first and never trailed as the Engineers moved on in the tournament with a 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Springfield College this afternoon. The victory gave MIT a 2-1 series win over the Pride and a date next weekend against Wheaton College for the conference championship.

Starting pitching continued to be strong for both teams in the contest as it had been in the first two games, with freshman David Hesslink (San Diego, Calif.) for MIT and Mike DeMille for Springfield breezing through the first two innings without a run being scored. The Engineers got to DeMille in the third when senior Patrick Dayton (Archer City, Texas) led off and was hit by a pitch. A one-out single by senior Jon Rea (Palo Alto, Calif.) moved Dayton to third before DeMille uncorked a wild pitch that scored the first run of the game. Another wild pitch moved Rae to third and he came home on a sac fly off the bat of freshman John Drago (Peoria, Ariz.).

Springfield came back to make it a one-run game in the fourth when Shane O'Leary led off with a single and came around to score on a double to left center by Frank Calabrese. Hesslink recovered and kept it a one-run MIT lead by retiring the next three hitters in order to strand Calabrese at second.

In the bottom of the sixth the Pride scratched across another run, with O'Leary and Calabrese again starting the rally with a double and a single. Sean Smith then followed with an RBI single to left that tied it at 2-all.

MIT answered in its next at-bat, scoring what proved to be the winning runs. DeMille was lifted at the start of the inning for Matt Butrym who retired the first Engineer on a fly to center. Dayton then legged out an infield single, stole second, and then came around on a double to right center by junior Phil Reiser (Alpharetta, Ga.). One out later Drago slammed his fourth home run of the season and MIT was on top, 5-2.

Springfield got one back in the bottom half of the inning when a pair of two-out singles and a walk loaded the bases. Hesslink was then called for a balk to bring in the run, but he escaped further damage by getting the final out of the inning on a foul pop-up. 

After Hesslink ended his day after the seventh, sophomore Michael Wymer (Flower Mound, Texas) came on in the eighth, working around an error to retire the side. MIT picked up an insurance run in the ninth when Rae singled and eventually reached third on a pair of errors. Junior Karl Sorensen (Blacksburg, Va.) then laid down a sacrifice bunt that was enough to score Rae.

Wymer got in a jam in the ninth when a one-out single and a walk brought the tying run to the plate. A wild pitch moved the runners up, but Wymer struck out the next hitter and then recorded the final out on liner to center to pick up the save.

Drago drove in three runs for the Engineers, with Rae and junior K.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn.) each recording a pair of hits. O'Leary, Calabrese and Jared Hopkins all had two hits for Springfield. Hesslink improved to 6-0 on the year, going seven innings and allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out four.  DeMille allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, while Butrym was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs on four hits in 1.2 innings.

MIT and Wheaton will play for the NEWMAC title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in a best 2-out-of-3 series that will start with a doubleheader at Wheaton on Saturday at Noon. Prior to that the Engineers will tune up for the series with three games at home, starting tomorrow with a 4:00 p.m. game against Wesleyan University at Briggs Field.