With runners on second and third and zero outs in the bottom of the third, freshman Mark Joao, Springfield College’s baseball team’s third baseman, stepped up to the plate. The pitcher kicked his leg high and delivered the pitch. Joao didn’t make great contact, but was still able to send a blooper out to right field. Emerson’s right fielder, Jim Cain came charging in as the ball was dropping at what seemed, to him, like a tremendous speed, yet a loathing velocity to Joao. The outfielder made a sliding attempt, but the ball nicked the tip of his glove and fell to the ground. Billy Paskowski was able to scamper home safely as Peter Marsicano advanced to third.
After a sacrifice fly ball to left field from Corey Wilcox that scored Marsicano, the Pride saw 2-0 on the score board and would not need to look up again. Despite a run scored by Emerson in the top of the seventh inning, Springfield held on to a 2-1 lead to improve its record to 7-21.
“We did enough to win,” said Head Coach Mark Simeone. “We made pitches when we needed to and we took advantage of their mistakes to get our runs.”
Dan Green was on the mound for the Pride, and he was rolling. After settling in with a quick 1-2-3 first inning, Green was set to go for seven strong innings of work. One earned run on seven hits was enough to give the junior righty his first win of the season.
“Dan is always ready to pitch. He’s always out there competing. He got behind in some counts, but found a way to strand runners and make pitches he needed to make to keep their [Emerson] offense at bay,” said Simeone.
Although Green pitched well, he did get some help from the Emerson baserunners, especially in the top of the fifth inning. With Joe Jacobs on first base, there was a line drive single sent to left field. However, Jacobs forgot to run and was gunned out at second base. “Ya gotta be kidding me, Joe,” Emerson’s third base coach yelled as Jacobs trotted back to the dugout.
The base running terrors wouldn’t end there for Emerson. After a stolen base by Danny Johnson in the same inning, Mitch Moormann dribbled a grounder to shortstop. Dan Bergami fielded it cleanly and as he began to fire to first, he realized Johnson was rounding third and heading home. Bergami made the adjustment and threw home to get Johnson out in plenty of time. Those were costly mistakes for Emerson as two potential runs turned into easy outs for Springfield.
“You have to take advantage of base running errors,” said Simeone. “When they make errors, we have to make outs and we did that. That helped us win a close ball game.”
In the top of the seventh, Green found himself in a bit of a jam. After three singles, the bases were loaded with just one out. Tim Quitadamo cracked a grounder to shortstop, but there was no play for Bergami, who ate it and watched a run score with a grimace on his face. The bases were loaded once again with just one out, but this time Green was able to throw a clutch pitch that led to a routine 6-4-3 double play; inning over. Simeone trusted his pitcher and did not even take a trip to the mound to calm him down.
“I knew Dan was focused. I knew he had a mindset of what he was out there to do. There was nothing else I had to say to him,” said Simeone.
The seventh was the last for Green and then the Pride went to the bullpen where it got a phenomenal 1-2-3 eighth inning from Luke Brown and a ninth inning save from Matt Butrym. The save did not come easy though. After an error and a stolen base, the tying run was in scoring position with two outs. Emerson leadoff hitter, Moormann came to the plate and had a great at bat. The shortstop worked the count to 3-2 before ripping a line drive down the left field line. The umpire called it foul and the Emerson dugout was in disbelief. The Springfield dugout took a sigh of relief. Moormann then hit a hard ground ball to Bergami that drew some gasps from the Pride’s dugout, but Bergami handled it cleanly, threw to first, and locked up the win for the Pride.
Springfield will head just down the road to Western New England University on Sunday.