By Jack Margaros
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College baseball team starved for insurance in the eighth inning.
Mark Joao supported the cause with a leadoff triple to kick off the frame, putting himself in position to double the Pride’s lead. Noah Bleakley followed with a scorching line drive to the left side, although it landed directly into the glove of Brian Hadden at shortstop.
Dean manager Ernie May proceeded to call Gio Filippone from the bullpen to face Jake Gleason — who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the fourth inning — seeing the previous two batters barreled up Austin Crowley,
“Having people in the crowd, hearing them just kind of calms me down,” Gleason said. “Hearing my walk up song every day calms me down too and puts me in a different mindset so I’m relaxed; not stressing or anything just going in open minded.”
The junior worked the count several pitches before sending a towering fly ball out to right field. Gleason knew he got all of it, as he flipped his bat and started to trot the bases.
Right fielder Landon Fish started to go back, but to no avail. The ball cleared well beyond the raised fence in right field, as Gleason slugged the first-ever collegiate home run at Archie Field to give Springfield a 3-0 lead headed into the ninth inning.
“It’s just something that’s memorable,” Gleason said. “It’s cool but at the end of the day it’s just a home run.”
Although allowing the tying run to reach third base in the ninth, Duncan Satterlee barred down to record a nine-out save, as the Pride defeated the Bulldogs on Wednesday, 3-2.
Brendan Kirck toed the rubber for his second start of the season. The freshman dealt for six innings, allowing one hit while striking out six in his first victory of the season.
“Mechanics are different throwing off the home mound,” Kirck said of throwing off the all-turf mound Archie Allen Field offers. “It just feels good to be home and know that I got the crowd behind me. It gives me a little more confidence when I’m on the mound.”
Kirck showed great trust in his off speed pitches. He continually tested Dean hitters by pinpointing spots in and around the strike zone while catching some hitters fishing in the dirt.
“The first inning (the offspeed pitches) felt good,” Kirck said. “Then the inning after that I felt it slip a little so I was just telling myself to get out in front of it and just get it to the plate and trust my catcher.”
Kirck received some support from Eddie Martinez in the fourth inning. With men on first and third and two outs, Martinez waited back on an outside fastball and lined it into right field for an RBI double, plating the opening run.
“(Eddie is) stepping into the batter’s box with a real focused approach and a competitive approach and that was evident in the at-bat he had,” Pride head coach Mark Simeone said. “He’s had some of the best approaches at the plate of any of our hitters this season to this point in time.”
Martinez and his teammates sensed in the dugout that Colton Fitzsimmons was throwing far slower than what they had become accustomed to.
“We were all talking on the bench and it was like ‘Everyone’s out in front. Sit back,’” Martinez said. “We’re so used to seeing faster pitching since we’ve been down in Florida…We come back up here and we’re seeing kids that are about 10 miles per hour slower. It’s an adjustment.”
Springfield threatened to tack on more runs in the sixth. Noah Bleakley walked and stole second to lead off the inning. Gleason followed by drawing another walk, and Bleakley stole third in the process.
Martinez stepped up to the plate with an opportunity to strengthen Springfield’s lead. He turned on a pitch down the third base line. Giuseppe Casabianca made a diving backhand stop, halting Bleakley between third and home. He was eventually tagged out in a pickle, and Springfield ended the frame empty handed.
“In that scenario, there was some bad luck involved and then we got to make the best out of that situation,” Simeone said. “That’s a tough ball right down at third.”
Gleason provided the extra run support needed in the eighth to propel the Pride to their seventh win of the season. Satterlee pitched two perfect innings in relief before allowing a pair to score in the ninth.
“That’s a team that we should beat and we didn’t do it pretty but we got the job done and (Brendan) was a big part of that making sure (Dean) didn’t get any momentum early in the game,” Simeone said. “I thought we looked tired offensively and understandably so. We found a way to rally and those were two big hits in the last inning.”
The Pride enjoy a couple off-days Thursday and Friday after playing 13 games in the past ten days. Saturday, it hosts a double-header against NEWMAC opponent MIT.
“That stretch was definitely tough,” Kirck said. “Having a couple travel days, going down to Florida. Obviously the games in Florida were much warmer so it feels good to have this stretch finally over and now we can get into a more steady pace and grind.”
Photo courtesy Sam Leventhal