EAST BOSTON, Mass. – Three-time defending champion and top-seeded Suffolk University scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning without a hit Thursday evening, capping a 6-5 comeback victory over fourth-seeded Lasell College in the first round of double-elimination play in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Baseball Tournament at East Boston Memorial Field.
The Rams (22-16) needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extras, then won it in the 10th on three walks and a fielder's choice. Suffolk, which lost only one GNAC game during the regular season (13-1), moves on to face third-seeded Johnson & Wales University on Saturday, May 5, at 1:30 p.m. at Saint Joseph's College (Maine) in Game 6 of the tournament; the Wildcats upset #2-seeded Saint Joe's in Thursday's other first round game, 9-5. Lasell (10-20) will play Saint Joe's in Game 5 in an elimination contest Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Saint Joe's in Standish, Maine.
The Lasers got solid pitching performances from sophomore Zach Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) and junior Dan Petr (East Haven, Conn.) and took advantage of five Suffolk errors, but couldn't close out the win against the defending champs.
Lasell drew first blood in the third inning when freshman Wyatt Sihvonen (Lebanon, Conn.) reached on an infield single, went to second on a balk and third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Suffolk infield error.
The Lasers put up three runs in the fifth inning on just one hit to extend the lead to 4-0. Junior Rob Cutone (Tewksbury, Mass.) led off with a double down the left field line and scored on pair of Suffolk errors. Another run came home on a passed ball, and junior Evan Michalek (Berlin, Conn.) brought home a run with an infield ground out.
Handzel allowed just two hits through the first five scoreless innings before the Rams got to him for three runs in the sixth. Hopkins cracked a one-out double to left and consecutive singles by seniors Seth Coiley (Arlington, Mass.) and Greg Speliotis (Salem, Mass.) and freshman Blasé Cormier (Wayland, Mass.) put two runs on the board for the Rams. Petr came on for Lasell and induced a sacrifice fly to make it a 4-3 game.
Lasell tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning. Freshman Harrison Silva (Lowell, Mass.) and junior Andre Marchesseault (Cheshire, Conn.) led off with singles, and after junior Brett Sherron (Howard Beach, N.Y.) walked with one out to load the bases, the Lasers scored on another infield error. Suffolk avoided further damage by turning a double play.
Suffolk staged a ninth-inning comeback. A walk by junior Trevor Lee (Flanders, N.J.) and a single by freshman Nik San Antonio (Cranston, R.I.) put two runners on with no outs, and a passed ball moved the runners to second and third. One run came home on an infield grounder by sophomore Rich Gilbride (Beverly, Mass.), and senior Brady Chant (Warwick, R.I.) singled to center to drive in a run to tie the game at 5-5.
Petr pitched 2.2 innings of hitless relief before Suffolk scored twice on him in the ninth inning. Freshman Sean Doris (Lincoln, R.I.) came on to pitch in the 10th inning and took the loss (3-3).
-- 30 --