In the two team’s first meeting in nearly six years, Springfield College baseball beat Fitchburg State 5-4.
The last time the Pride (6-2-1) took the field, it was sunny, 85 degrees, and in Florida. The weather may have been sunny at Berry-Allen Field Tuesday afternoon, but the 40-degree weather was a brisk welcome home for the Pride, and an indication that the northern part of their 2016 campaign is now underway.
After a relatively successful eight games in Florida, in which the Pride went 5-2-1, the offensively surging Pride found timely hitting in critical moments to push past the Falcons (3-8).
Kyle Allen (2-for-4 with a pair of doubles) hit his most critical two-bagger in the bottom of the fifth with two outs, when his gapper to left field put the Pride up 3-2.
“Down in Florida I felt a little tense, today I just wanted to loosen my hands a bit and attack the ball and it showed,” said Allen.
Brandon Drabinski added a two-out double of his own an inning later for the Pride, scoring both Corey Wilcox and Mark Joao to nudge the Pride’s lead to 5-2.
Despite the timely hitting, the Pride grappled with leaving runners on base, leaving the bases loaded on two occasions, and an additional four at different points.
Said head coach Mark Simeone, “We did some good things to help us win the game, but there are plenty of things we need to continue to focus on and get better at.”
The Pride entered the game with a team batting average of .376, and though they did not hit quite as well as they did in Florida, all but two batters posted at least one hit.
In his second start of the season, Kyle Naples (1-0) admittedly was not in peak form, digging himself into holes periodically, but rallied and exited most of them relatively unscathed, allowing a pair of runs with a trio of walks and strikes apiece on three hits over five innings.
“I didn’t think I had my best stuff, but I did my best with the stuff I had and just tried to throw strikes,” said Naples.
Naples’ occasional erraticism lead to two hit batters and 33 strikes on 73 pitches, but he received serviceable support from relievers Ken Manero and Mitchell Goldman (0-0, 1 SV) who managed to keep the Falcons at bay the remaining four innings, allowing a run each.
“[Naples] was out there competing. I didn’t think he had his best stuff, but he did enough to keep us close and keep us in the ballgame,” said Simeone. “He’ll pitch better, all of our pitchers that pitched today will pitch better. They didn’t have their best stuff, but they competed and sometimes you can get away without having your best stuff when you’re a tough competitor, and all three of those guys are.”
Trailing 5-3 entering the ninth, the Falcons made a late push, tacking on a fourth run with one out on Riley Shea’s right field single. Fitchburg elected to pinch run Luis Ortiz for Shea, who was promptly nabbed attempting to steal second by Pride catcher JP Peters, deflating the Falcons momentum and enabling the Pride to end the game in the same at-bat, as Goldman struck out pinch-hitter Mike St. John.
The Pride will be back in action tomorrow at home to play crosstown rival Western New England.