By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College baseball team swept a doubleheader against Emerson on Saturday, winning the first game, 8-1, then the second game 8-6.
The rust that developed from 34 days without competition seemed to be officially knocked off on Saturday.
“I don’t think there’s any question we were five weeks in between games last week,” said head coach Mark Simeone. “I mean, that’s unheard of in baseball. We had such a long period of time in between games, and guys get out there in a competitive situation for the first time in five weeks, maybe not locating as well as they did today because we played four games. Now, we got our ‘sea legs underneath us,’ have a good week of practice and then are better today than we were last weekend having played those games.”
Springfield looked to get rid of the stigma from their four losses from last weekend immediately. To start the first game, Noah Bleakley delivered a 1-2-3 inning in the first. After Michael Barrett singled and eventually got to third base, Bleakley tripled him home to put the Pride on the board first. He was driven in by the following batter, Nick Fazio. In the next inning, Barrett got the rally started once again, this time with two outs, then was driven in by the following batter, Andrew McCarty, to make it 3-0.
After another scoreless and hitless inning from Bleakley in the third, Springfield kept on scoring. Fazio was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a balk. He was then driven in by Jack Simonetty. Eventually, Barrett came up with two on and two out and hit a two-run double to make it 6-0.
After Emerson scored their first run of the game, Springfield answered back with two runs on a two-run single by Jack Cooney. This also happened to be Cooney’s 100th career collegiate hit, which got a round of applause from his teammates and coaches.
As impressive as the Pride were offensively, their pitching matched that level of success. Bleakley did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, and ended up allowing just one run and four base runners through his five innings pitched. After Bleakley came out, no more hits or walks were allowed by the Pride. Ben Arnold threw two perfect innings with three strikeouts, then Alex Gonfrade would have had a perfect 8th inning if not for an error at third base. Following that Jacob Shpur pitched a perfect ninth inning and ensured the 8-1 win for Springfield.
The second game was much more back-and-forth. Emerson scored first after a misplayed pop up, stolen base and an RBI double. After Springfield loaded up the bases in the first without scoring, they tied it up in the second inning on a Michael Barrett sacrifice fly. Emerson responded in the top of the third with a sacrifice fly of their own to make it 2-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Conor Santoianni and Ryan Smith got themselves on first and third, then Cooney appeared to put down a safety squeeze bunt that drove Santoianni in. The batter after, Bleakley, drove in Smith on a double to give Springfield a 3-2 lead.
The next inning, Springfield added to the lead when with a man on third, Noah Diamond drove in Simonetty on an RBI groundout. In the following frame, Emerson hit an RBI triple on a misread line drive in center field to make it 4-3. The batter after that drove in the previous hitter on an RBI groundout to tie it up.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Cadin Maynard and Diamond reached base with one out. Then, Santoianni drove in Maynard on a single to once again give the Pride the lead. In the top of the eighth, the first two Emerson batters reached base via walk and hit-by-pitch respectively. After their plate appearances came an RBI double to tie the game back up. After a groundout, Emerson took the lead on a sacrifice fly.
Immediately after, the Pride got two men on base with one out. That is when Fazio, in what appeared to be the final at-bat of his collegiate career, hit a game-tying RBI single. After a pinch runner was brought in for him, he tipped his helmet to his teammates and hugged them when he reached the dugout. After that at-bat, another senior, Simonetty, put the Pride ahead on an RBI single. Following a pitching change, the trend did not stop, as Maynard hit a single that loaded the bases. Andrew McCarty walked to drive in an insurance run to follow.
After a game full of lead changes, there were no dramatics in the 9th inning. Senior John Daley provided a quick 1-2-3 inning to close out the 8-6 Springfield win.
The contributions from the seniors were noted by Coach Simeone.
“Certainly when you have the contributions in a day like today from your seniors that help you win, that makes it special,” said Simeone.
Matching the theme of the world landscape as it stands, the future could play out in many different ways for Springfield. Some seniors are definitely not using their extra year of eligibility provided by the NCAA last year, and some are pondering the idea of going to graduate school and playing.
“I would say four of them are definitely not coming back, and the other four are either coming back or certainly contemplating it,” said Simeone.
With it still in question, the Springfield College baseball team can wait to worry about the future, as they can look back on a successful Saturday.
UPDATE: Springfield claimed a spot in the 4-team NEWMAC tournament and will be playing Babson on the weekend of May 8.