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Springfield baseball beats Babson for first time since 2013 in doubleheader split

By Chris Gionta

On Saturday afternoon, the first half of a doubleheader between the Springfield baseball team and Babson was scoreless in the top of the eighth. The Pride were about to receive a boost of energy they did not know was necessary. 

With two outs, Jack DeGirolamo whipped the ball in his submarine motion to the bat of Babson’s Michael O’Brien. The pitch tied O’Brien up, but off the bat, it looked like a frustrating flare that would drop for a hit. However, Springfield second baseman Jack Dunaisky ensured that was not the Pride’s fate.

He read it on contact, sprinted as fast as he could to shallow right field and dove with full force to the falling ball. He could not have extended any further, and his effort was rewarded when it landed in his glove and remained there as he fell to the ground.

“I just saw it in the air, and I knew it was a big spot in the game, so I had to give it my all and lay out,” Dunaisky said.

The diving catch sent the Pride dugout into a frenzy and provided Springfield even more life in its first conference matchup.

“I knew he was going to get it﹣I was already running in ready to congratulate him,” Springfield starting pitcher Blake Roberge said. “That really got our energy up and kept us going.”

Joe Traversa led the bottom of the inning off by scorching a sharp grounder into left field for a single. Next, Michael Barrett was hit by a pitch, then Maynard grounded into a fielder’s choice to put men on first and third with one out. Ryan Sorgi followed that by hitting a fly ball to right field that was just far enough to allow Traversa to tag up and score on a sacrifice fly.

DeGirolamo minimized the dramatics of the ninth by retiring all three Beavers he faced, just like he had done in his previous two innings of work.

The 1-0 victory marked the first Pride win over Babson since 2013, and snapped a 17-game losing streak against the NEWMAC powerhouse.

“It’s been a long [10] years since we beat them, and we finally did it,” Roberge said.

“I hope it makes every single one of the guys that put a uniform on realize that we can play with the top teams in our conference,” Springfield head coach Mark Simeone added. “[Babson is] a national-caliber team﹣they’ve been in and out of the top 25 the last two or three years. They’re a good club and I believe we can play with a team like that and proved it today.”

Prior to Dunaisky’s grab and Sorgi’s sacrifice fly, Roberge put together a great performance with six shutout innings and four strikeouts. He pitched his best in the most crucial situations﹣only allowing Babson one hit in eight at-bats when runners were in scoring position.

Simeone brought in DeGirolamo in the seventh, and he threw three perfect innings.

“Both Blake [Roberge] and [DeGirolamo] are why we won that game,” Simeone said. “Both guys pitched their rear ends off.”

Sorgi was also a presence defensively all afternoon. He was behind the plate for all 18 innings on Saturday, and threw out both attempting base stealers in the opening game.

In the next half of the matinée, Babson rallied early for five runs in the second inning﹣featuring a two-run triple from cleanup hitter Michael Cook. Yet, quality relief pitching from Joe Hutchinson and Nathan Kelleher-Mochak allowed Springfield to make a surge.

Hutchinson surrendered an inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, then got the next seven outs without a Beaver scratching across home plate. 

RBI singles from Noah Diamond and Barrett in the bottom of the fourth and fifth made it 6-2. In the seventh, with men on second and third, Cadin Maynard hit a ball between the legs of the Babson second baseman, which brought both runners in.

Kelleher-Mochak came into the game to start the seventh and retired his first six batters.

“In a situation where you give up a few runs early, and then we got to go to the bullpen, they got to keep that team where they are,” Simeone said. “And both [Hutchinson and Kelleher-Mochak] did that and gave us a chance to creep into it and make it interesting right down to the end.”

However, the Beavers brought Stephen McLendon in to pitch for the beginning of the eighth, and he executed a six-out save with only one baserunner allowed. That secured a 7-4 win for Babson and a doubleheader split.

Springfield plays its next three games on the road﹣starting with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. The Pride’s next appearance at Archie Allen Field will be on April 11 against MIT at 3:30 p.m.

Photo: Springfield College Athletics

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