STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (17-8, 9-1 GNAC) and Lasell College (16-10, 10-4 GNAC) split a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) baseball doubleheader at Larry Mahaney Diamond on Monday afternoon. The Monks won the first game by an 8-2 margin and the Lasers countered with a 3-2 walk-off win in the nightcap.
GAME ONE – Saint Joseph's 8, Lasell 2
The Monks, playing as the away team as today's twinbill was originally scheduled to be played at the Lasers' home field, opened the game with a run off two hits in the top of the first. Freshman shortstop Max McCoomb (South Berwick, Maine) led off the contest with a single up the middle and came around to score three batters later when junior first baseman Nic Lops (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus) doubled down the right field line.
Lasell starter Greg Sherman (Marshfield, Mass.) fanned the first two batters he faced in the top of the second, but sophomore second baseman Zack Graham (Marlborough, Mass.) slammed a double to right-center and promptly scored when the following batter, sophomore left fielder Tim Beaudette (Uxbridge, Mass.) rapped a base hit through the right side, making it a 2-0 game.
The Lasers, who entered the opener riding an eight-game winning streak with 10 wins in their last 11 games, responded in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of two SJC errors to cut their deficit down to 2-1. Senior third baseman Chris Pittman (Brockton, Mass.) led off with a walk and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw. With one out, freshman second baseman Hector Coscione (Newton, Mass.) ripped a single to center, plating the Lasers' first run of the game.
The Monks quickly regained the two-run cushion, as Louie Vigars (Stratham, N.H.) worked a walk - after falling 0-2 in the count - and scored when Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, N.Y.) tripled to deep right-center.
Continuing the one-run-per-inning theme, Saint Joseph's plated another in the fourth when Taylor Reuillard (Biddeford, Maine) opened with a single and later scored on a Graham triple, lifting the Royal Blue to a 4-1 cushion.
The Monks broke the trend with four runs off four hits and a Lasell miscue in the top of the fifth. Lorenc led off with a double off the left field wall and scored on a single by Lops, who later scored the second run of the frame on a wild pitch. Senior third baseman Alex Markakis (Lynnfield, Mass.) knocked in a run with a single up the chute and Reuillard, who reached via HBP, scored the fourth run of the inning on a passed ball.
Lasell looked to rally in the fifth, as Brandon Valentin (Meriden, Conn.) and Dan Gagnon (Pomfret Center, Conn.) led off with consecutive singles and Valentin eventually scored on a Wes Hurty (Windsor, Conn.) sac fly to center, but the attempt would fall short as SJC starter Corey McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) settled in and retired the side.
For the Monks, Lops was 2-4 with a run, a double and two RBI, Lorenc went 2-4 with a run, a double, a triple and an RBI and McCoomb, Reuillard, Graham and Beaudette notched two hits apiece in the victory. McNamara, making his second career start in as many appearances over the last 10 days, was solid again, allowing one earned run off five hits and two walks with a pair of K's in a complete-game victory.
Sherman took the loss for the Lasers, falling to 2-3 on the year after yielding seven runs (six earned) off nine hits and a walk with three strikeouts in four innings. Vinny Romano (Yonkers, N.Y.) allowed a run off two hits and a walk in an inning of relief and Frank Zammarelli (Burrville, R.I.) tossed two clean frames, scattering three hits in a pair of effective innings to close out the contest.
GAME TWO – Lasell 3, Saint Joseph's 2
The second game, which featured a brisk pace and required only 90 minutes to complete, was a mirror reflection of the opener as the conference rivals dueled for six innings before the Lasers produced the winning run in thrilling fashion in the bottom of the seventh.
Lasell kicked off the game scoring with two runs off three hits in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Bobby Ellard (Medfield, Mass.) led off with a walk, moved to second on a Rob Madden (Hingham, Mass.) sac bunt, scampered to third when Valentin recorded an infield single, and scored when Gagnon reached on a fielder's choice. Gagnon crossed the plate after Billy Uberti (Newton, Mass.) and Hurty rapped back-to-back singles, lifting the Lasers to a 2-0 advantage through three innings.
The Monks cut their deficit in half with one swing in the top of the fourth, as junior catcher Joe Coyne (Duxbury, Mass.) launched his third home run of the season – a shot that ricocheted off a light post just beyond the left-center wall – to make it a 2-1 game.
St. Joe's used a pair of Lasell mistakes to knot that game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth. With one out, McCoomb reached on an infield error and – after a Vigars sac bunt – moved to third on a passed ball, setting the stage for Lorenc, who plated his freshman teammate with a two-out single to center.
The Lasers managed to make the Monks pay for not executing in a pair of sac bunt situations in the sixth and seventh. With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Hurty reached on a fielder's choice and was removed in favor of pinch-runner AJ McKenzie (Pasadena, Md.) after moving to second on an infield error. At the plate with the winning run 180 feet away, Coscione lifted a single to right field and McKenzie, sprinting with two out, was ruled safe on a very close play at home, just beating a throw by Lorenc for the game-winning run.
For the Monks, Coyne was 2-3 with a solo home run and Lorenc went 2-3 with an RBI in the losing effort. Junior southpaw Dan Meeken (Marshfield, Mass.), making his first career start, allowed two runs off six hits and a walk in four innings while sophomore slinger Riley Cox (Westford, Mass.) took the loss after allowing an unearned run off four hits with three K's in 2.2 innings of relief.
For the Lasers, Uberti and Hurty were both 2-4 in the nightcap and starting pitcher Brendan Jordan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) surrendered two runs (one earned) off six hits with four punch-outs in 5.1 innings. Senior Mike Rodriguez (Brockton, Mass.) claimed the winning decision after tossing 1.2 innings of perfect relief.
Saint Joseph's, which played 12 games – including 10 GNAC contests – in the last 10 days, takes a well-earned respite with two days off before playing Husson University in a non-conference contest at 3:30 PM on Thursday. Lasell plays at Eastern Nazarene in the Lasers' regular-season finale at 3:30 PM on Friday.