By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College baseball team lost both sides of a doubleheader against Westfield State on Sunday afternoon. They lost the first game by the score of 7-2, and lost the second game, 9-5.
The Pride did not prepare for its weekend to transpire in the fashion it did. However, there is reason to believe the group that monikers themselves the Studbolts will add to the win column sooner rather than later.
“None of us expected to be 0-4 at the end of Sunday,” said Springfield head coach Mark Simeone. “So, how do you respond to it? I think with the quality of people we have, I think we’ll keep plugging away, work hard, and realize that ‘hey, this isn’t an easy game to play. Every team we play is good — we play a tough schedule — and that you have to work hard to make the types of adjustments to give you the chance to win.’”
The first of the pair of games was tight for most of it. Each starting pitcher found themselves in high-pressure situations early on, but found ways out. After retiring the game’s first two batters, Springfield’s Michael White hit and walked a batter. With men on first and second base, an Owls player hit a dribbler perfectly between the pitcher, catcher, and third baseman for an infield single to load the bases. White was able to get out of it unscathed with a strikeout that was followed by an impassioned yell coming off the mound.
The Pride loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half of the inning after an Andrew McCarty single, Noah Bleakley reaching on an error, and a Cadin Maynard hit-by-pitch. However, the inning ended on a flyout.
Springfield scored in the next inning with production from the bottom of the lineup. Cole Zalegowski led the inning off with a single, and was moved over by Mark Nofri on a risky 2-strike bunt that rested beside the third base line. Zalegowski was driven in by Joe Penkala on a triple to make it 1-0, Springfield.
White retired the first two batters of the third inning, but after the third batter was hit, Westfield State hit a 2-run home run to give the team the lead.
That was one of few flaws White had on Sunday. The junior went five innings, allowed two runs, three hits, walked one batter, and struck out six.
“He did a really good job,” said Simeone. “Mike [White] is a focused, smart, intelligent pitcher, and he approached things that way today.”
After White’s five innings were done, McCarty tied the game at 2 with his second home run of the weekend.
“I like Andrew’s swing,” Simeone said. “He’s a tough competitor. He’s a guy who works hard, and believes he’s going to be up there successful all the time — and you have to play baseball like that.”
The Owls responded immediately with back-to-back doubles to lead the top of the sixth off. With two outs in the inning and a man on third, Westfield State reached on an error to make it 4-2 in their favor. In the next inning, they added three more runs, which were the last of the game.
The Owls continued their offensive momentum into the second game of the doubleheader. After a leadoff walk in the first inning, they hit an RBI triple. That at-bat was followed by a sacrifice fly that made it 2-0. The Pride answered back with a run in the bottom of the inning after scoring on an error.
In the third inning, Westfield State led off with a double, which was followed by an error in which the batter reached third base. The plate appearance after that was a sacrifice fly that increased their lead to three runs. After a walk and a stolen base, the Owls drove that runner in with a single to make it 5-1.
In the fourth inning, Westfield State scored another run on an RBI single. In the bottom half of the frame, the Pride posed their largest offensive threat. After a groundout to lead off the inning, Ryan Sorgi hit a solo home run to right-center field. Noah Diamond followed that with a walk, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Next, Connor Caverly hit a single and advanced Diamond to third base. Zalegowski hit an RBI single in the next at-bat, then Penkala was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. But, Springfield’s momentum was halted on an inning-ending double play — leaving the score at 6-3.
The Owls responded with two home runs — one being a solo shot in the fifth inning, and the other coming in the sixth and bringing in two runs.
Despite the game being just about out of reach in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Pride strung runs together with unfamiliar faces. Tony Incontro, Luke DiMauro, and Cole Crynock all had their first collegiate plate appearances down to the team’s final out. Incontro singled up the middle, DiMauro walked, and Crynock drove them both in on a double.
“I feel we have a pretty deep team,” said Simeone. “I think we can bring guys off the bench that are going to get up there with a chance to get a hit, get a guy out on the mound, and make plays defensively.”
The inning and game still came to an end with the Pride four runs short.
Springfield will have another chance to get in the win column before their Florida trip. They will play Nichols at Archie Allen Field at 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics